These cookies couldn’t be more different than the way they started out. First they were the hazelnut thumbprint cookies I made as an excuse to use the sun-dried, saffron-yellow apricot jam a friend gifted me. When the time came to update the recipe for my Turkish cookbook, I decided to make a plain thumbprint, coating it with finely chopped hazelnuts for crunch. Then I learned that Banu Bingör, a dear friend and recipe tester extraordinaire, had turned the original thumbprint into a simple ball cookie studded with a single whole hazelnut. When she brought a jarful of them to one of my book signings and I found myself eating cookie after cookie to get to that perfectly toasted hazelnut, I wished for a chance to revise the recipe. Its beauty was in the restraint, and I was determined to get it right the next time.
I got that chance with the translation of my book into English, and I had every intention of staying true to Banu’s version. However, restraint is not a virtue of mine. I embrace that gladly, because otherwise I would not have come up with a cookie that deserves the description “melt in your mouth” more than any other I have ever baked.