I have the mixer going, NPR blaring over the speakers, a half-finished glass of Diet Coke sweating nearby, and the usual baking paraphenalia spread out all over the kitchen counters: Flour, sugar, butter, cookie sheets, silpat mats...the works. My husband walks in from work and, ignoring the mess, comes over hopefully.
Him: (rubbing hands together) What are you making? Peanut butter cookies? More bread?
Me: Nope. I'm making these.
I hold up a present he and the kids got me just before Christmas.
Him: The whole book*?
Me: No, no, no! The cover recipe...jam thumbprint cookies. Aren't they gorgeous? I've been meaning to make them for ages.
Him: (literally recoiling, he backs away from me slowly) But...those are...Old Lady cookies!
Me: What are you talking about?
Him: You know! What little old ladies give you instead of real cookies...
Me: (giving him the evil eye, big time): Ex-CUSE me?
Him: I'll be in my office...
He walks away, laughing.
About 30 minutes later, my son breezes through the kitchen, drawn, in my estimation, by the irresistible smell of these little gems coming out of the oven. I decide to start over with a new member of the family.
Me: Fresh cookies! Don't they look yummy? Help yourself!
Him: What's that stuff in the middle?
Me: It's jam! There's strawberry ones, and apricot ones.
Him: Ew. Who likes jam cookies?
Me: Well, according to your dad, little old ladies.
Him: (busting up) Old ladies! That's exactly what those are - Old Lady cookies! Hee Hee. What a funny guy. Hey, Dad! Want to split an ice cream sandwich?
He digs in the freezer and walks away, laughing.
Neither of them has eaten a single one. I've had lots. I love 'em.
Maybe I am getting old, after all.
Thumbprint (aka Old Lady) Cookies
A mash up of two recipes...the one from the Gourmet book, and this one from a fellow Tasty Kitchen member, CarenG. I stole the almond extract idea from Caren, and added that to Gourmet's recipe. The combination is simply divine (as little old ladies are wont to say). They are moist and buttery, slightly salty, and that hint of almond makes them smell and taste absurdly rich. Offset with that disc of fruity goodness, it's a little bite of heaven. At least as far as I'm concerned. And I won't say a word about how great they'd be with a cup of tea, because I can hear my husband laughing over my shoulder.
3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. almond extract
1 c. strawberry or other fruit jam, strained and stirred until smooth and pourable
Whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Using an electric mixer or a food processor, add the butter cubes, pulsing or mixing at medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract.
If using a food processor, add the egg mixture in a steady stream with the machine running, and mix just until combined. With a mixer, blend the egg mixture in at medium speed just until dough comes together. Press any stray crumbs in with your hands, then refrigerate the dough for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350, and line cookie sheets with parchment or silicon baking mats. Using a teaspoon measure, then rolling gently in your hands, form balls about 1 inch in diameter, and space at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Using your thumb, create an indent in the middle of each cookie to hold the jam.
I put my jam into a squeeze bottle to make the next part easy, but you can easily use a small spoon, too. Fill the indent of each cookie with jam...it won't take much.
Bake for 12 minutes, just until edges of the cookies are light golden brown. Cool completely on baking racks, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.
* It is a measure of how nuts I am with therapy baking these days that this is a real possibility.