I like to cook. Actually, it boarders on love. For one birthday, Jon asked me what I wanted and I said that I wanted to cook a gourmet meal for people that I loved. 5 kitchens, three sets of china and an obscene amount of money later, fifteen of my friends and family sat down to THE BEST SIX-COURSE MEAL. I made everything, EVERYTHING by scratch (Including the herb poaching liquid for the Salmon Mousseline.) I even found Foi Gras to go on top of the Fillet Mignon.
I have a knack for it.
Baking? Not so much.
Unlike her, I am no award winning baker. I’m not even what I would qualify as a “Good” baker.
I’m ok at it.
I don’t bake often because I am not nearly as good at it as cooking. It is too precise and measured (No pun intended.) I have had some major baking catastrophes in my life. It seems like the times that I try “Extra hard” the worse the end product SUCKS. Some of my attempts would have made Julia Child run screaming out of the room to chug copious vats of her cooking brandy.
I have learned over the years to not be hugely ambitious and to not ever, ever tweak or alter the basic recipe. I almost always slightly alter a recipe, but nowhere NEAR the amount I change recipes when I am cooking.
I am attending a holiday cookie exchange party tomorrow. It means making TEN FREAKING DOZEN COOKIES. The good thing about it is that I only have to make one recipe and I will leave with 10 dozen various Christmas cookies.
This year I am making one of my favorite cookies. I took the recipe from Ina Garten on Food Network. My only tweak to this recipe is that I add finely chopped pecans to the coconut mixture.
They are totally worth the widening of the ass that consuming them causes.
Jam Thumbprint Cookies
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry and/or apricot jam.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.
Butter is the backbone of this recipe. Lots and lots of fattening, lovely butter. MMM… Use unsalted butter when you bake, people. It’s for your own good, trust me. Oh, and if you even think for a millisecond of using anything other than real, honest-to-goodness BUTTER, you and I may have to meet in the gladiator cage. Since I am freakishly weak, I may not be able to actually give you a smackdown for committing such a grievous sin like using margarine, but I will fight to the death trying.
*Beginning of “Hatred of Vile Imitation Vanilla Rant*
Please, please, PLEASE use “REAL VANILLA”! I cannot stress this enough. Fake vanilla sucks ass more than Internet Explorer. It is like taking an old wad of stale chewing gum, throwing it in some boiling water and calling it peppermint herbal tea. It HAS to be bad for you. I can’t find any statistics that prove that imitation vanilla flavoring has actually killed anyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised. So, DON’T BUY IT, PEOPLE! Because I care about your health, I really do.
*End of rant*
Roll dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill for 30 minutes. (Smilee face optional).
Dip in egg wash and roll in coconut/pecan mixture.
Take a teaspoon and fill with jam. I like to use multiple jams when I make these as gifts. This time I picked apricot, raspberry and blackberry, and strawberry. I like a healthy amount of jam, so I use about a half a teaspoon instead of an 1/8th.
My favorite way to package these cookies is to stack them in a cellophane bag and tie it with a ribbon. You want the cookies to graduate in size. This is why I make some cookies slightly larger and some slightly smaller.
Eat up and enjoy.