Well, Thanksgiving’s over, and so is our annual pumpkin-palooza. Which means it’s time to move on … to Christmas cookies!
Having heard that I’m looking for cookie ideas, my co-worker and fellow blogger Sarah Linn let me borrow this great book from now-defunct Gourmet magazine. It’s basically a collection of their best cookie recipes — one recipe for every year the magazine had been in publication.
It has so many intriguing recipes that it was hard for me to choose one to make. Ultimately, though, I went with the cover cookie — little thumbprint butter cookies topped with strawberry jam. I chose them partly because they are adorable, and partly because they look very similar to some really tasty cookies sold at Trader Joe’s that I’m completely addicted to.
They taste very similar to the Trader Joe’s cookies, too. After baking the cookies, I brought some into the office (I had plenty to spare — the recipe said it made 8 dozen, but I ended up with closer to 12 dozen) and offered them to a few co-workers. As they took their first bites, I said, “They’re just like those Trader Joe’s cookies!” and they replied, in unison, “But better!”
There’s something about the combination of a buttery cookie and sweet fruity filling that is just irresistible.
Now, I know that some of you are wondering what makes this a Christmas cookie. True, it isn’t a traditional holiday cookie, but it does have a festive red center! If you’re a stickler for authenticity, you could probably try that canned cranberry stuff instead of strawberry jam. Same basic concept, I think.
Recipe: Aunt Sis’s strawberry tart cookies
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookie Book
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 sticks (1½ cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 2 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
- 1 cup seedless strawberry jam
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter bits, and blend the mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal.
- Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, I hope you have strong arm muscles.) Add the egg yolks and mix at medium speed until a dough forms. (It’ll look at first as though there’s no way this flour-y mess could become dough, but just hang in there.) Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or lightly greasing them. Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature.
- Using a sturdy teaspoon — “sturdy” is key; I snapped a plastic measuring spoon in half doing this — scoop out level teaspoonfuls of dough and roll into balls, arranging them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Press your thumb into the center of each ball of dough, being careful not to crack the dough around the edges. (If the dough cracks, it’s probably too cold; roll it between your hands to warm it up a little and try again.)
- Now put the jam on the cookies. If you’re handy with a pastry bag, this will be quick and painless — just fill it with the jam and squeeze about ¼ teaspoon into each little indentation. Otherwise, you can use a spoon.
- Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are pale golden. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies may be made 1 month in advance and kept frozen in airtight containers.
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