Saturday Sweets - Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

Ahh my first baking post - I can practically hear music playing in my head, I have been dreaming about this for so long! I enjoy the actual act of baking about as much as most people enjoy the process of eating homemade baked goods. So needless to say, lets be friends!! Eat my cookies, I make too many!!

But in all seriousness, I am genuinely excited to share some of my favorite recipes - the tried and true favorites from my childhood - as well as the most loved recipes which I make on rotation in our house. And what's more fun then finding new favorites? The embarrassing amount of time I spend on Pinterest salivating should count for something, right? 

So today I wanted to start off with a truly EASY tried and true favorite - Raspberry Almond Thumbprints!

(I promise I will work on my picture taking/lighting abilities in time if you promise to go easy on me while I'm new!!)

So these beauties are deceptively easy to make, totaling only 6 ingredients (7 with the glaze which I recommend, but is totally optional). It has taken me quite a few batches over the years to perfect the look of these, but I believe I have finally come close to making them look about as good as they taste! Now the recipe is taken from one of my favorite baking blogs www.sallysbakingaddiction.com (also in her book which I LOVE and can be found here ) but I also wanted to include some helpful hints I wish I knew the first couple times I made these little yum yums.

In all honesty, when I first tried making these cookies a year or so ago...well let's just say you don't want to see pictures of those thumbprints - all my baking cred would be out the window! It's one thing to make cookies taste good, but a completely different thing to make them taste great! And even a great cookie can garner some serious side-eye and avoidance at a party of it looks unappetizing!

So let's talk about how to make GREAT cookies, that look pretty darn great too!

 

So the actual process of making the dough for these cookies could not be easier. AT ALL. Start by using room temperature butter - please please not melted. It makes a difference I promise! If your butter was in the fridge I recommend heating in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, if you keep mass Costco sized quantities of butter in your freezer just for baking life me, then the best thing to do is cut the butter up into tablespoon pieces and heat slowly for 30 seconds at a time in order to thaw but not melt! 

Beat your butter on medium-high for around a minute, until the consistency is smooth. Once your butter is looking creamy, add in the sugar to 'cream' it all together. 'Creaming' these ingredients together should result in the sugar crystals dissolving into the butter and creating a unified texture. Once you have achieved this, add the vanilla and almond extract. 

Now comes the hard part - JUST KIDDING, there isn't one. Just add the flour slowly, so it doesn't pouf up all into your face. Been there, too many times...

Voila! You're done with the dough! Now this probably is the hardest part - you're going to need to let it chill for a couple of hours. I know - I'm increasing the amount of time between making these and when they will be in your tummy. I feel your pain people, I mean it!! But it is important with dough this soft that it solidifies before baking or you're going to have runny ugly thin messes. So pop it in the fridge and turn on some Netflix, or go for a jog if you're so inclined - and don't touch it again for at LEAST an hour, probably 2, Sally recommends 4!

3 hours later, your large ball of dough will now be pretty dense and solid and ready for business. I chiseled some pieces out of it and rolled each in my hand into little uniform balls. I love love love using silicone baking mats to prevent spreading, so if you're interested these are mine.

SUGGESTION TIME: Traditional recipes suggest that you then use your thumb or a spoon of some kind to press down on these solid cookie balls to create the crater which your jam goes into. However, pushing down this early in my experience led to cracking in the sides and an overall ugly cookie (look back at that picture again incase you're not convinced). I prefer to pop these little balls in to a preheated 350° and cook for about 5 to soften them up. 

After 5 minutes, take them out and rather than using your thumb or a traditional spoon, I found that using a Tablespoon from your baking supplies (as long as it is a circle and not an oval variety) produces a nice sized round indent. I push this directly into the top of the cookie with enough pressure to leave a sizable indent. (Are you jam crazy? Make a bigger indent!! There need be no limit to the amount of jam you can fit in these!)

After each cookie has it's little indent - pop them right back (as quickly as possible) into the oven for the remaining 7-9 minutes and cook until  puffed up and ready to go! 

I prefer to add my jam AFTER the cookies have baked, rather than before. So my next step is to wait about 15 minutes while the cookie shells cool, and ready my jam and icing. Now these are called Raspberry Almond Thumbprints, but feel free to add ANY jam you are in love with! I have made them previously with Strawberry to great success, and Apricot was even better :)

I found BY FAR the easiest (and prettiest) way to do this was to pipe the jam and icing into the cups using THIS incredibly easy to use icing piper (this is amazing and what I use for all my cake/cupcake decorating too!) But of course a spoon works no problem too! 

I hope you love them as much as my family does, these never tend to survive more than a couple days in my house! Happy Baking!!

Recipe and Instructions taken from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com

Yield: about 26 cookies

Ingredients:

COOKIES

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp (264g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (160g) raspberry jam

GLAZE

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional) 

Directions:

Make the cookies: Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the the sugar, followed by vanilla, and almond extracts. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer off and pour the flour into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed.  Press the dough down to compact it and tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (silicone mats preferred to reduce spreading). Shape the cookie dough into balls. Mine were about 1 Tablespoon of dough per ball. Make sure they're nice and smooth. If you find that the balls of dough are sticky and/or have gotten a little soft after rolling- place the balls of dough back into the refrigerator to firm up. You absolutely DO NOT want soft dough. Make an indentation with your thumb into each ball. The dough may crack slightly when you press your thumb into it. Simply smooth it out with your fingers if you can. Otherwise, it's perfectly fine to have a few cracks. Fill each with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of jam. (Or however much it can hold.)

Bake the shortbread thumbprint cookies for 14-15 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not overbake.  In fact, I only baked mine for 13-14 minutes. I prefer them a little soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

Make the glaze: stir together glaze ingredients until smooth. Add more liquid to thin out or add more confectioners' sugar to thicken to your desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Glaze will set within a couple hours.

Store cookies covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 6 days. Shortbread cookie dough may be frozen up to 2 months; baked cookies (without glaze) may be frozen up to 2-3 months.