Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

I know I'm not the only one who has waited until the last possible moment to make cookie plates for friends and family. I normally have this done a week or so before Christmas, yet here we are FOUR days before Christmas and I've only made one of the four treats I am planning to give out. Tomorrow I need to get my bake on, and hope that my mother-in-law will willingly help with the dishes and/or the kiddos.

I usually find a good reason to be in the kitchen, whether it's because I can blast the music and dance while I bake, or whether it's because I can eat the raw dough (you know you do it, too!), or because mixing and chopping and stirring is my own personal stress-reliever...just not the dishes!

Anyone who loves to bake needs a good shortbread cookie dough recipe. Once you know this recipe you can let creativity take over. You can add different flavorings and extracts, nuts, chocolate, fruit, roll it around in ground nuts, coconut, or powdered sugar, create new shapes...really, the possibilities are many.

I took a shortbread recipe I learned a long time ago from Barefoot Contessa and made my own version of thumbprint cookies. They are bright and delicious and make me very happy when I eat one.

You start with the basics, and I'm not sure why, but the vanilla is stealing the spotlight and hiding the raspberry jam, but it's there. Promise.

Mix, mix, mix. If my picture was better you'd see little yellow bits from the lemon zest. So. Good!

After everything is mixed, roll out the dough into a flat disk and let chill for about 30 minutes. If you chill it longer than that, you'll need to let it thaw slightly otherwise it won't be pliable...and yes, I know this from experience.

What? My picture is a little off-center? That's because my handy 7-year-old took it for me. But you get the basic idea. After rolling the dough into 1 1/2" balls, use one hand to hold it together slightly (it's prone to cracking) and press down a 1/4 teaspoon into the center.

Using the same 1/4 teaspoon, fill the holes with raspberry jam. Pretty, right?

All finished!

Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
submitted by Kelli Lafranca, adapted from Ina Garten

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
Zest from 1 lemon
Raspberry 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 dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place the balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and, using a 1/4 teaspoon, make an indent in the top of each ball. Fill each indentation with 1/4 teaspoon raspberry jam. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack.

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