Friday, December 19, 2008

Jewel Cookies

I hate to be "bah humbug" and all but Christmas cookies are very often not as good as they look. Years ago, I used to sit next to a gal at work that baked a ton of cookies for everyone during the holidays, and gave us all beautifully wrapped plates of them. She spent days on it - and the cookies looked fantastic, but tasted really bland and had a tough texture. I bit into one that was so bad, I actually had to fake blowing my nose so I could spit it out into a Kleenex! I tried to put them out by the coffee pot at work - engineers are notorious for eating any free food they can get their hands on, but even these beauties were left uneaten. When she wasn't looking, I threw most of them out in a garbage can on the other end of the building. Like Santa does each Christmas eve, I left a couple cookies on the plate with a few crumbs so that she thought that her cookies were well received. She had spent so much time on them.

A recipe for a cookie that's often featured in Christmas cookie platters - the "jewel" or "thumbprint" cookie is a frequent Christmas cookie offender. I've had many terrible versions of this cookie - tough dough, rancid nuts, fluorescent red and green maraschino cherries placed in the centers (a sin committed by yours truly in junior high). But done right, these cookies are sublime! Did you preserve some raspberry jam last summer? Now's the time to crack open a jar and make this cookie. Strawberry jam would work well it it, too. I got this recipe years ago out of Martha Stewart Living.

Jewel Cookies

printer friendly

3 sticks unsalted butter
1 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, separated
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
2 2/3 c flour
2 c pecans, finely chopped
1 c raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, salt, and then flour. Shape into 1 inch balls. Brush each ball with beaten egg whites, then roll in chopped pecans and place 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Press center of each ball with your thumb, and fill with 1/2 teaspoon jam. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until just golden around edges. Cool on a rack.

Makes 5 dozen


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It's so funny you printed this particular one, because I've been baking various batches of cookies for holiday gifts, and the one batch I had to just toss was my experiment with these jewel cookies.

I could not get the thumbprint thing to work without splattering the cookie all over, more or less. Then I decided that refrigerating the dough for a bit would help, but it became hard as a rock.

I don't think these are in my future this year. I'm making the mince pinwheels and the pistachio bars that I had for the exchange, peppermint bark, apricot-chocolate biscotti, espresso crinkles, traditional decorated sugar cookies, cherry shortbread, and candied walnuts with chocolate and orange rind. I'm about half-way through. Phew!

Maggie said...

What I hate is getting a plate of baked Pillsbury sliced cookie rolls. Not that they are that bad but give me the $3 (or whatever they cost) and I'll bake something homemade instead.

I think that a lot of people just store cookies badly. Mint cookies can NOT be stored with gingerbread and chocolate chip. They will all taste like funk after a few days.

Ok, now that I got that off my chest... I haven't made thumbprints in years but really wanted to make some this year with my autumn olive jam. Thanks for posting this Martha recipe!

marie armone said...

just baking these now. nice recipe, but they needed between 12-14 minutes to turn brown