An awfully festive (and damn near perfect) Snickerdoodle cookie resides by the tree
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: when it’s permissible to eat half the Christmas cookie batter prior to baking. Baking is by no means my forté, but around the holidays I make a concerted effort to bake (and to bake often). Due to the onslaught of Christmas cookie recipes around this time of year, I am faced with the difficult challenge of which cookie to choose. This year, I selected two Christmas cookie classics: thumbprints and snickerdoodles.
The element of sentimentality, coupled with the sheer decadence of baking Christmas cookies is something I look forward to all year long. These thumbprint cookies were crafted with arguably some of the best strawberry jam in the country (Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park), so that alone makes them special. I also had some leftover apricot jam left in my fridge from this past autumn, which serves as a lovely complement to the vibrant, deep red thumbprints. Admittedly, I lose all self-control when jam of any kind is incorporated into baked goods. Do yourself a favor and give these butter and jam thumbprint cookies a try (and always add extra vanilla extract).
My nostalgia around snickerdoodles stems from my early days, when my grandmother used to visit me in New Jersey. Prior to her trek from Philly to NJ, she would always make a customary pit stop at the local farmer’s market in Wayne, PA. When she pulled in our driveway, she’d have nearly have a dozen miniature white bags filled with all sorts of delicacies: gourmet crackers, cheeses, and most notably: snickerdoodles. I couldn’t get enough of the practically perfect blend of butter, sugar, and cinnamon that make up the snickerdoodle. As an adult, you do your best to recreate the fond childhood memories of your past. Concocting these holiday sweets is one way to do just that.
Cheers to a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year in 2017! Thanks to the Food Network for these festive treats. Both recipes are below.
Strawberry & Apricot Thumbprints (also pictured: Toasted Caraway & Rosemary Shortbread)
Strawberry & Apricot Thumbprints
Makes 25-30 cookies
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
⅔ cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup strawberry, apricot, or other jam of choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
In another bowl, whip the butter and the sugar with a hand-held mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat the egg and vanilla until just combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing until just incorporated.
Scoop the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a thumbprint in the center of each ball, about 1/2 an inch deep. Fill each indentation with about 3/4 tsp. jam.
Bake cookies until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. (For even color, rotate the pans from top to bottom about halfway through baking.) Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Serve.
Yields 35-40 cookies
For the topping:
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
For the cookie dough:
3½ c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
To make the cookie dough, stir together the dry ingredients. In a bowl with a paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the sugar and continue to mix, then add the eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended.
Chill dough 1 hour if it’s sticky or difficult to handle. Roll balls of dough about the size of a walnut then roll them in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Place on an un-greased sheet pan 2 1/2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until puffed up and the surface is slightly cracked. Let cool on the sheet pan a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.