Jam Thumbprints

These babies based on the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book recipe always elicit memories of baking with my mother in my childhood kitchen. My mom taught me everything I know about cooking and baking. In fact, all of my siblings love being in the kitchen, a fact I believe we can attribute to our mother's gentle encouragement, patience and trust in our own culinary skills from very young ages. (Has anyone tried to bake with their toddler? It's messy. It's slow. It's terribly imperfect. I don't know how my mother did it!)

These also remind me of my mom because, as a true anglophile, she loves to take tea and these are a perfect tea cookie. Rich with butter, slightly crunchy with toasted nuts and sweet with jam, these are a mouthful of pleasure. And I don't say that lightly!

Any jam will do, but I prefer those with bits of fruit in them and I like to jazz up the plate by using a few different types. In this case, there is apricot, boysenberry and strawberry. Or fill them with ganache, cold caramel sauce or fruit curd. Also, these are just as mouth-happy without nuts, especially if you, like my husband, don't really enjoy nuts in your baked goods.

Whatever you choose, these are crowd pleasers and I hope you love them as much as my mom and I do!

Jam Thumbprints
2/3 C sweet cream butter, softened
1-1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 t vanilla
3/4 t kosher salt
1 C finely chopped or ground walnuts
1/2 C best-quality preserves

Yield 2 dozen good-sized cookies

Preheat the oven to 375.

Beat the butter until smooth and light in color, about one minute. Add the sugar and blend. Add the egg yolks (reserve the whites) and vanilla and blend. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined.

Roll the dough into a ball and place on waxed paper. Flatten into a disc and cover with waxed paper. Chill the dough for one hour (or more) until it's firm.

Pull off about one tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Continue with the rest of the dough until you have about 24 balls.

Gently beat the reserved egg whites. Dip each dough ball into the egg white mixture and then into the walnuts and place on the cookie sheet. Gently indent each cookie either with your thumb or the back of a spoon (or the heel of a piece of flatware if yours has a nice round handle) so that each cookie looks like a nest.

Bake each sheet about 12 minutes, or until the walnuts are lightly browned. Let the cookies cool completely, at least one hour. Spoon about one teaspoon of jam into each thumbprint and let the cookies set about 15 minutes.
Make sure the walnuts are finely ground for the best bite.

Light, pillowy balls of dough. 
The thumbprint process.
The finished product. With walnuts.

A few without walnuts.



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