2015 minus 1984 = 31!!! How can it be? That's the number of years I have been making these cookies. They appeared in Chocolatier 1 (2) 1984. I loved that magazine and those I have survive every magazine purge. They were called Chocolate Filled Snowballs - but I never used that name. Once a friend with a delicatessen made / sold these and called then "Venus' Nipples" - hmmm. (I just Googled "Chocolate Filled Snowballs" and note that various versions of this recipe appear under that name...)
These cookies have a shortbread texture with a surprise chocolate filling. I have never successfully made shortbread - not sure why. For many years I enjoyed annual shortbread gifted to me during the holiday season. In between, these had to do. We are weeks away from Xmas and if you start your baking ahead of time note that these can be frozen or kept in a tin in a cool location for several weeks.
Getting ready: Unwrap about 3 dozen Hershey Chocolate Kisses - any left over must be eaten by the baker. Roast/chop nuts. Bring butter to room temperature (Click here for Tips on butter.) Note that the dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before forming cookies - so consider that in your planning. I have even made the dough the day before. Preheat oven to 375. This will make 2-3 dozen cookies.
1/2 lb unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 T brandy (or... Amaretto, chocolate liqueur, Chambord - see Tip)
In a bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream together until light and fluffy.
2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds
Nuts can be chopped by hand or pulsed a few times in a food processor - that will leave you with a mixture of fine grind and little pieces - that works fine. Add the flour and the nuts, mixing until just combined. Gather the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Remove foil from Kiss and wrap each one inside a ball of dough about 1 inch in diameter. Make a thumb print and then begin to enclose chocolate. Take care that each Kiss is totally surrounded with dough.
Bake on an ungreased or parchment covered cookie sheet for about 12 minutes, until just cooked through. Sprinkle with icing sugar while still warm - go ahead and sprinkle some more if that first sprinkling melts into the cookie.
Notes and Tips...
- Chocolate Kisses - obviously the "unwrapping" can be done ahead of time. It's a useless little time-wasting thing that, if done ahead, makes baking day go faster. Or... unwrap them while the dough is chilling. Truly, when this recipe first came out there was only one kind of Kiss Chocolate - now there are so many choices - you could almost try this recipe with each one - imagine this with Hershey's Caramel Filled Kisses...
- Brandy - I think the idea was to use some kind of sweet liqueur. Have lost count of those I have tried - whatever is on hand seems to work.
- Nuts - the original recipe called for pecans or walnuts, but I have also has success with chopped (or even ground) almond. Be sure to buy fresh nuts - taste to ensure they are not old/rancid. Nuts always taste better when roasted - do this with whole nuts in a 350 F oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway. Cool and then chop. (Skip the roasting if using ground almonds.)
- Bake (and eat) time - I have had three ovens over these last three decades and so my recipe has various notes re bake time. (Reminder that I am notorious for over-baking cookies...) The recipe says 12 minutes, but I begin to check them as early as 9 minutes, watching for them to become ever so slightly golden. The cookies are delicate at first but "solidify" as they cool. With fresh baked cookies, there is a moment when these are cool enough to pick up - and when you bite in, the chocolate is still oozing and soft.
- Make ahead - as noted above, various bits can be prepped ahead of time. if you make the dough the day before it needs to be out of the fridge for a while to make it easier to handle and shape around the chocolate. These can be frozen or kept in a tin in a cool location for several weeks.
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