Recipe courtesy of the December 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living.
I haven’t bought a Martha magazine since I was done with wedding planning well over three years ago, but I found myself picking up a copy of this issue to check any potential new ideas for December entertaining, potlucking, etc. One of the stories that caught my eye was ‘One Basic Dough, 30 Kinds of Cookies’. The premise is that a basic vanilla butter cookie recipe can be modified to at minimum these three additional flavors (spice, chocolate, and citrus), that if you omit baking powder you can use the dough for thumbprints, ball or spritz cookies.
One of the cookies from every kid’s childhood here in PR (and the Spanish Caribbean, from what the Internet tells me) is mantecaditos. I even remember making them in my sixth grade home-ec class as one of our first cooking projects. Mantecaditos are thumbprint cookies (sometimes filled with cherry halves or guava, but mostly plain), made out of flour, shortening, sugar, and almond extract. They are easy to make, but have become even more ubiquitous in parties thanks to the local warehouse clubs’ tubs of the Carla’s Sweets ones. I’m not that fond of baking with shortening (have done it to accommodate lactose intolerance) because I love butter and the flavor it imparts. When I read the recipe and looked at the picture, I knew I had to take a stab at it.
This is the basic recipe for the vanilla cookies (for rolled/sheet cookies, add 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder):
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Normally, I try to divide recipes by the lowest undivisable item (usually eggs) because we are a two-person household. I didn’t want to make two full batches of dough, so silly me broke the egg and fork-beated it with the vanilla extract and split it as evenly as I could for each half batch. The cocoa dough requires swapping 1/3 cup of flour for 1/3 cup of unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder and I did the split just taking my measuring cup and filling it halfway and a little more with cocoa powder and adding the rest of the flour.
As with most cookie recipes: cream the butter and sugar with a mixer, when fluffy add the eggs and vanilla, and then incorporate the dry ingredients for each flavor batch. Form the thumbprint cookies by pinching a little of each mix, rolling it into 1-inch balls and pressing a well with your finger or with the back of a 1/4 teaspoon round measuring spoon. Chill the cookies for half an hour while preheating the oven. Bake for 7 minutes, retouch the indentation with the measuring spoon, and then bake for an extra 7-9 minutes.
To honor the mantecaditos of my childhood, I had these plain, but Martha suggests filling them with raspberry preserves or chocolate ganache. I bet caramel would be great as well.