Sticky Fingers: Jam Thumbprints

This recipe came to me yesterday via Martha Stewart’s Cookie of the Day
email. I subscribed to these emails a few months ago, and they’ve been
torturing me all summer as they usually arrive at around 10 in the
morning—-right when I’m settling in at my desk. They serve as a
reminder that a) I’d much rather be baking cookies than checking my
email and b) I’d much rather be eating cookies than doing almost
anything else!

But this is the first time I’ve actually baked one of the cookie
recipes that arrives in my inbox. I think I was seduced by the serenity
of Martha’s photo (below), and by the simplicity of the recipe. It calls for
only five ingredients, including THREE sticks of butter! THREE! This
means that not only will they taste pure and smooth and
straightforward, they also align with my mission of using up—not
buying more—baking supplies while preparing for my cross-country move.


The experience of making these is lovely and meditative. The dough
is pliant and easy to work with, and pressing your thumbs into them to
create a well for the jam has a certain satisfaction. The butter cookie
base would lend itself nicely to fancier applications such as a
chocolate or peanut butter frosting; but jam is just right for now,
thank you very much. In fact, this recipe’s down-home appeal resulted
in fanciful imaginings of my great-grandmother puttering around her
kitchen in a sackcloth apron.

Aunt Maggies Jam Thumbprints
(recipe and above photo courtesy of My alterations are in italics.)

24 tablespoons (3 sticks!) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (because I can’t imagine cookies without it)
pinch salt (about 1/8 teaspoon-salt adds a layer of complexity to all that butter)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup jam, any type (I used the strawberry version of that continental classic, Bonne Maman)

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl, then beat in egg and
vanilla. Stir in salt and flour. The dough might be a little soft at
this stage, so a 15 minute stint in the fridge will help it firm up.
Roll balls about the size of large walnuts and place them on your
cookie sheet, then press your thumb into the center of each. Don’t be
shy! You’ll need a deep enough well to support the jam. Warm jam in the
microwave for about 30 seconds or until runny, then dribble
approximately 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake at 350
degrees for about 18-20 minutes; they should be a light golden brown
around the edges. These guys smell heavenly, by the way! They’re a
little delicate, so do be careful when removing them from the baking
sheet to cool. Enjoy great-grandma style with a tall glass of lightly
sweetened iced tea.


One Response to “Sticky Fingers: Jam Thumbprints”

  1. kate s Says:

    Meditative eh? I’d like to know about the experience of eating them (first hand that is)
    another great post Anne!

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