Jam Thumbprints

I’m not ready. Not at all. No matter how many gifts I buy before Thanksgiving, and no matter how many times I pledge to be more organized next year, I always find myself frantic this close to Christmas. I just returned from a 9 p.m. shopping trip, and still am short a couple of things. All this after a long day at work and kissing Gabi goodnight. All I really want to do is curl up on the couch with some spiced cider. And these cookies.

Last weekend, despite my to-do list, I took an hour and baked two batches of Christmas cookies. I’m so glad I did. The buttery dough in these thumbprints smelled like heaven in the oven. I filled the centers with raspberry jam. Jeff and I gobbled up about six of them. We would have finished the rest quite easily had I not put them in a tin with a couple dozen palmiers, and a note for the women who take care of Gabi every day.

The dough here can be tricky. If it doesn’t come together for you, add a bit of water until you can roll the dough into balls with your hands.

Jam Thumbprints
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies, 2001

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, finely ground [I used blanched slivered almonds]
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 cup jam or preserves [raspberry is awesome]

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beat well. Whisk together flour and salt, and add to mixture, beating on low until combined.

Combine almonds with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Squeeze the dough and roll between your hands to help it come together. If it is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of cold water at a time, and mix into dough your hands.

Dip the cookie balls in egg  white, then in almond/sugar mixture. Press the center of each ball with your finger, or the bottom of a thick wooden spoon, or the bowl of a small spoon . Transfer to the lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and press down the centers again. To keep your fingers from burning, dip them in water first. Rotate sheets, and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. Remove from overn and place on a cooling rack. Fill centers with about 1 teaspoon of jam.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


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