C is for Cookie, That’s Good Enough for Me

Is it not the strangest thing in the world that the characters that we grew up with so many decades ago are still cherished by the youth of today? There must be something innately appealing to little ones. The fur? The colors? The voices? Hadley is enamored with Sesame Street characters (he watches the old episodes as well as the new ones, although we try to skip over that Abby Cadabby crap) as well as Mickey (I’m 50/50 on this one — I love that he enjoys “A Mickey Christmas Carol” from beginning to end, but I don’t want him to be surrounded with Disney paraphernalia or to feel the need to visit the “most wonderful(ly overpriced) place on Earth”). Along with his dozen or so words, he has gestures for each of his favorite Sesame Street characters — “bam bam bam” (arm with fist pounding) for Oscar and “nom nom nom” (open hand to mouth repeatedly) for his favorite, Cookie Monster.

So, while I made Christmas cookies last year, this is the first year that OUR little Cookie Monster can actually partake in the treats. I try to keep my versions “real food” friendly — using butter instead of Crisco, organic raw sugar rather than white, unbleached organic AP flour rather than the regular bleached (I didn’t do whole wheat because I wanted to try to keep the consistency relatively similar, but you could do half-and-half or even all whole wheat if you don’t mind a texture switcheroo), and so forth. Honestly, most of what’s in these is organic and GMO-free, which is our priority right now.

Oh, and fun fact time: I only make cookies my husband will WANT to eat. Sure, he’ll eat my favorites (anything with peanut butter), but he doesn’t necessarily WANT to, which means he ends up “forgetting” they’re sitting in our cookie container until they go stale or I eat them all (whichever happens first…ahem). So, I ask Dave what his favorites are, fully realizing that my mom or sis or someone equally lovely will provide me with a couple of peanut blossoms or chocolate-covered peanut butter balls at some point this holiday season…and I sleep soundly knowing that my hubby and son will eat the crap out of whatever I have made. It’s all good. Maybe one day (when he’s able to eat nuts; we’re not testing his allergy levels to nuts quite yet!) I’ll have a house full of kids that will override Dave’s aversion to “super peanut buttery” things. That’ll be the day!

I made these cookies in less than an hour each on two different nights, after Hadman had gone to bed. First was the jam thumbprints.

Now, back in the day, I used to make these with Ina Garten’s recipe (my mom LOVED them when I made them — isn’t that the greatest feeling, to make something for the person who made everything for YOU and to have them enjoy it that much?), which was so full of butter I can’t even stand it (yum!). But, I didn’t use that recipe because a) they made a million cookies (we don’t need a million) and b) they were covered in coconut. My husband’s a basic guy, so I made the equivalent of shortbread cookies…with a thumb smashed in…with some wayward jam poured in for good measure.

Here’s the recipe I used (from Love and Olive Oil – LOVE this site!) —

Jam-Filled Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 40 cookies
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (or so) assorted jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated and dough comes together in a ball.
  3. Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Flatten balls slightly with your thumb or the back of a small spoon, leaving an indentation in the center.
  4. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms are just barely golden. Remove baking sheet from oven. If indentations look shallow, further define them with the back of a spoon and then fill each with approximately 1/2 teaspoon jam. Bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until jam melts slightly and edges of cookies are lightly golden. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.


Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/09/jam-filled-thumbprint-cookies.html

Jam-Filled Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. (or so) assorted jam (I used a test pot of “razzleberry” jam, some apple butter {Delish! And super sweet}, and some strawberry/blueberry/rhubarb jam)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not waxed) or a silicon liner (I used parchment on one but ran out and used butter on the other; they both came out fine).

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium high until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated and dough comes together in a ball.

Form 1-inch balls and arrange on baking trays (they won’t expand much at all). Press slightly with your thumb or the back of a teaspoon to form an indentation for the jam.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until bottoms are barely golden. Remove from oven. If indentations look shallow, press a bit more. Place approx. 1/2 tsp. of jam or jelly in each indentation before placing back in the oven for 3-4 minutes (until lightly golden). Transfer cookies to cool on a rack.

Jam-Filled Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 40 cookies
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (or so) assorted jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated and dough comes together in a ball.
  3. Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Flatten balls slightly with your thumb or the back of a small spoon, leaving an indentation in the center.
  4. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms are just barely golden. Remove baking sheet from oven. If indentations look shallow, further define them with the back of a spoon and then fill each with approximately 1/2 teaspoon jam. Bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until jam melts slightly and edges of cookies are lightly golden. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/09/jam-filled-thumbprint-cookies.html


The other cookie that Dave requested, which I also made last year, was Chocolate Crinkles (although he just called them “the chocolate ones that get wrinkles all over with white sugar all over them”). It took awhile to find one that just used cocoa powder (homey don’t got time for meltin’ chocolate), and all I had was some leftover Hershey stuff (and while it’s not organic, it’s natural, non-alkalized, etc so it’s pretty good), but my powdered sugar was organic from our trip to Vermont and they came out just right — puffy and “wrinkly” and tasty.

For this recipe, I turned to Williams-Sonoma. Wait, what?! Yep. I scoured the Internet (okay, the first page of the Google search) and it hit all the marks: 1) used cocoa powder vs. melted chocolate (or a combo of both) and 2) only made a couple dozen cookies (again, we don’t need a million hanging around that won’t get eaten and will turn stale). And, for future reference (to myself…hi, future self!), it’s from a kid-friendly cookbook…so, yeah, Hadley can help someday.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies


1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
(reviews suggest between this and 3/4+; use what you like)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room  temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


(Love that the recipe said this: “Be sure an adult is nearby to help.” I asked my husband to stand by. ;-))


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 2 baking sheets with butter.

Put the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and set aside. (I didn’t use half of this amount, so feel free to start with half and use more as needed.)

In another bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 1 egg and beat on medium speed until blended. Add the other egg and vanilla and beat until blended. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of dough. Scrape the dough off the spoon into the palm of your other hand. Roll the dough into a ball. Roll the ball in the confectioners’ sugar until covered. Place the balls on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.

When 1 baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake the cookies until they are crackled and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a metal spatula, move the cookies onto the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. Makes about 24 cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Oxmoor House, 2003).

I’m thinking of throwing together a molasses or ginger-type cookie since it’s another kind that I DIE for — maybe my grandmother’s recipe (though I’m not sure if I have the right “kind” of molasses for that; seriously, they can end up taking up the whole pan if you’re not careful, and I’m not aiming for molasses bars) or something like that. I also do cutouts, which we’ll probably attempt as more of a hands-on family thing if Hadley actually wants to “make shapes.” If not, I’ll still make them and hopefully get a good, soft texture (vs. crunchy…you know the kind) so he can at least eat them afterwards. And, a nice, fluffy white frosting sounds perfect — no dyes necessary. If I don’t make these, though, it’s fine — at least I made SOMETHING. But, if I do make something, I’ll be sure to share the recipes.

What about you? What cookies are you making this Christmas? Or if you’re not baking any, are there any kinds that you’re looking forward to eating? I’m always fascinated to hear what kinds of cookies folks consider a “Christmas cookie.” Some are traditional (like Polish Kruschiki or regelach – which I always thought was Italian, but the interwebs informs me is Yiddish – both of which I enjoyed as a child) while others make me go “huh?” (um…chocolate chip cookies? Really?) Do tell!

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