Well the holiday season is underway and Christmas looms around the corner. I have a few traditions that I do each year. I watch holiday movies (Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street and It’s a Wonderful Life), decorate my apartment (even if I forgo tree-trimming and it’s just displaying Christmas cards artfully on my bookcase…hey that counts!) and wait until the last minute to run around like a maniac shopping for presents. Oh yeah and bake cookies of course!
It’s often said that people in the kitchen inhabit one of two camps, either cooks or bakers. I definitely prefer the freedom and improvisational skill of cooking. But I do have a few tried and true dessert recipes up my culinary sleeve. These yummy cookies, which come from chef Robin Asbell in the September ’08 issue of Vegetarian Times, are one of them.
Cookie-baking often puts you in the holiday spirit but these will definitely bring out your inner kid as you get to roll the dough into balls and stick your thumb into the dough. Pungent and bitter almond extract co-mingles with aromatic and sweet vanilla extract to create a balanced treat that is not too sweet, not too savory. I’ll let you in on one of the secrets to making these so fab. While you don’t always need to be picky regarding expensive ingredients, I will say that you should splurge and purchase the best quality jam you can buy for this dessert. Favorit Swiss is the absolute best with its smooth texture and high fruit content. Trust me, it will make all the difference. The fresh fruit of the preserves brings the golden chewy cookies to life.
I baked these for Christmas a couple of years ago, bringing them to my friend John’s family’s house. While we all enjoyed munching them, his dad devoured them! That’s the best compliment a cook or a baker can receive. I must admit I had to restrain myself from stuffing fistfuls of these addictive treats into my mouth over and over, finally succumbing to slumber from a self-induced food coma. So be sure to bake a batch of these. And leave some for Santa too.
Notes: The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour but I just used 2 cups of all-purpose flour. I used strawberry preserves instead of raspberry.