Chocolate Jam Thumbprint Cookies

I made cookies!

I’m a horrible baker. I can’t follow a recipe for the life of me, and I don’t own a timer. Simple instructions like “bake for 7-9 minutes” are virtually impossible for me to complete.  I never preheat the oven long enough, and I always decide to change an ingredient part way through and end up ruining the recipe.  I don’t know why.  I like making soups, stews, roasts and braises where the instructions are more along the lines of “put in as many carrots as you want, and if there are other vegetables that make you have warm fuzzy feelings, put those in too.”

Shockingly enough, I figured it out this time.  This is an adaptation of one of my favorite cookies that my mom makes every year.  It’s the same chocolate butter cookie dough, but her version tops each cookie with a half of one of those bright red candied cherries.  They’re delicious, and I love those cherries, Red #5 be damned.  I have about four hundred half-used jars of jam in my fridge, though, so I thought it might be nice to turn them into jam thumbprint cookies.

I’m giving myself an extra pat on the back for making these even though my kitchen aid mixer is fried right now.  I felt like a pilgrim actually creaming together butter and sugar using good old-fashioned elbow grease.  It was horrible, and I hope I can fix the mixer soon and go back to flipping a switch. The chocolate butter dough is so rich and delicious, and far superior to all of the usual thumbprint cookies floating around out there, if I do say so myself.  When I decided to post this recipe, I called up my mom and asked her where she originally found it.  She dug out the original clipping from the closet, and I’m proud to say that it was from a Land O’Lakes ad in a Sunset Magazine.  This recipe here looks pretty much the same, but has slightly different measurements. Chocolate Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Makes: 20-36 1″ balls, depending how good you are at measuring

Cook Time: 25 min.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. raspberry jam or orange marmalade (I wanted to use marmalade but I also wanted to use up the raspberry jam. I think that marmalade would be even better).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (doing it by hand blows, don’t do it unless you have to).  Add in the egg yolk and keep mixing on medium speed.  Slowly add in the flour and cocoa powder.  Mix until everything is combined and the dough comes together.  Form into one inch balls and arrange on a greased cookie sheet.  Use your thumb to make a small indentation on each of the cookies.  Bake for 4 minutes. Remove the  tray of cookies from the oven and put a small dollop of jam or marmalade in each of the indentations (not too much or it will melt all over the place and burn). Cook for about 4 more minutes.  Be careful not to overcook them; they should be slightly moist and fudgy in the middle, not crunchy and dry like some of mine.

My cookies also look like a kindergartener made them.  My mom’s always look all perfect and smooth, and mine are lopsided and cracked.  I’m confident that these flaws are because of my lack of skill at baking, and not because there’s any problems with the recipe.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. Making eggs for breakfast when there’s perfectly good cookies sitting right out on the counter would just be . . . wasteful.

Taste Of Mendocino

Hey Folks, I’ll make this short because it’s a blatant plug for an event that I’m doing.

Come to the Taste of Mendocino.  It’s on Monday at the Fort Mason Building in San Francisco from 5:00-8:00 pm. Tickets are $35 and available here and at the door.

In addition to saying hi and trying lots of jam, there are vineyards bringing wine down to this event that you literally cannot buy in stores.  To drive around and do wine tasting at all of these small tasting rooms would take days and days, and probably end up in a drunk driving arrest.

Oh, and I’m also bringing a few jars sweet peas, some veggies and our fresh eggs. Come early, I’m sure they’ll sell out fast.

Fusilli With Artichokes and Chevre

I’ve been up to my elbows in jam, getting ready for the Taste Of Mendocino event in San Francisco on Monday.   You should come! hell, even if you live in Kansas, it’s not too late! There are going to be so many amazing vineyards there doing wine tasting that the booze alone should make it worthwhile. Plus there will be meat, cheese, eggs, jams, and so much more.

Anyway, yesterday I got home from the kitchen, essentially covered head to toe in sugary goop.  I wanted real food that was totally devoid of anything sweet.  This lovely little dish is easy to throw together if your feet hurt and you’re really hungry, and tangy lemon, olives, artichokes and white wine will make you forget all about any intense sugar experiences that you may have had recently.

Fusilli With Artichokes And Chevre

As with most of my recipes, the point is not to hunt down specific ingredients but to make use of items in the pantry and the garden. Any olives or capers would be great in this recipe. Feel free to toss in some chicken or shrimp if you have some that needs using.  Roasted red peppers would work well too, but it’s not quite far enough into the summer for us to have peppers lying around.

Serves: 4 entree portions

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh fusilli pasta
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 small spring onions, sliced very thinly (about the size of a shallot or a pearl onion)
  • 1 lb. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 2 tbs. spring onion tops, sliced thinly
  • 1 large asian mustard leaf, sliced into 1/2″ strips*
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh dill, minced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 quart of chunky tomato sauce**
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 c. herbed chevre, crumbled (or whatever your favorite type of chevre is will be fine)
  • 1/4. c. shaved parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

2. While the water comes to a boil, cook the sauce in a large saute pan: Heat the butter on medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and artichoke hearts and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add lemon juice, white wine, dill, onion tops, and asian mustard greens and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Pour in tomato sauce and olives and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reached your desired consistency. If it is too thick, add a splash of white wine. If it’s too thin, cook for another 4-5 minutes.

3. Cook fusilli according to package directions. Drain, and return to the pot. Pour the artichoke mixture over the noodles and gently stir everything together. Top with crumbled chevre, parmesan and a few sliced onion tops. (Optional: If you’re feeling motivated, put the pasta in a small casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes to melt the cheese).

*Click here to see the greens that I’m referring to; I know this is a slightly obscure ingredient. Use any quick-cooking greens that you have around, like spinach or young kale leaves.

**We have lots of canned tomato sauce from last summer. If you don’t have it in your pantry, you can substitute any type of chunky tomato sauce that catches your eye in the grocery store.

Red D’Anjou Pear Cardamom Jam

This is one of my absolute favorite jam flavors.  Top five, for sure.  If you want to think about something other than citrus for a minute, make this! It absolutely explodes with the flavor of ripe, sweet, juicy pears.

Pear-Cardamom Jam

makes about 5 1/2 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. ripe pears, peeled, cored, and diced  (It only works when you find good pears- make sure the pears taste how you want the jam to taste; if they are grainy, too tart, or not ripe yet, don’t buy them.  I used Red D’Anjou pears from a local farm, which were in season here.  I’ve used Comice Pears in the past and they were also delicious).
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 4 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin Calcium Water, included inside the pectin box (see package for instructions)
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin Powder (I used commercial pectin to shorten the cooking time and retain the intense pear flavor).

1. Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water. Put lids in a small bowl and cover with some boiling water from the canner. Put jars in the oven on low so they are hot when you put hot jam into them later.  In a small bowl, whisk the 4 tsp. of pectin powder with 1/2 c. sugar and set aside.

2. In a large, non-reactive pot, combine pears, lemon juice, cardamom, calcium water, and 1 1/2. cups of sugar.  On medium-high heat, bring to a full rolling boil.  Pour in the pectin/sugar mixture, and bring back to a full rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

3. Ladle hot jam into hot jars.  Wipe the jar rims clean, and screw on the lids. Process half-pint jars for 10 minutes to get a good seal.

Recipe Ideas:

This is a strong candidate for The Jar That Actually Goes On Toast In The Morning…. but if you don’t want to go that route, don’t forget how delicious pears are with almonds- there are all kinds of tart and cookie possibilities here! This is also one of the jams that I serve on a chevre-ginger cheesecake that I make really often- I would highly suggest the idea of any type of cheesecake with this jam on top.