I miss my blog.
It seems that I’ve been at work more than I’ve been anywhere else lately. In the midst of it all, time and time again I find find my thoughts turning to my blog and to blogging in general. What have my favourite bloggers been writing about? What’s new in blog world? Has anyone been eating cream puffs in Venice?
It’s at these times that I realize what an integral part of my life this blog has become. And no matter how long I’ve been blogging, I’m always a bit taken aback by that. It’s always a bit of a surprise that this little bit of web space has come to mean so much to me.
Whenever I find myself away from the kitchen for an extended period of time, the urge to bake becomes almost unbearable. And it’s at these times that I want to do nothing more than bake cookies. More than any other product of the kitchen, cookies own me. There’s something about a cookie that’s so perfect. A cookie is a story all unto itself.
No surprise then that for two nights last week I stole away to the kitchen and baked cookies into the wee hours of the morning. The reason for this labour of love was a fundraiser held by my cousin for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I prepared a cookie tray that was part of the silent auction (and I’d like to thank my dear friends M and M for submitting the highest bid!) so I used the opportunity to bask in the kitchen’s glow.
My cookie friends were all there. The Brandied Eggnog Cookies that never fail to disappoint. I made some new friends with the Lemon Pistachio Cookies and the Rum Raisin Sandwich Cookies that I met. But the friends that I especially enjoyed making were the Walnut-Apricot Jam Thumbprint Cookies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I adore thumbprint cookies. I love sinking my thumb into a soft, buttery dough and feeling it yield. Bliss!
I won’t lie to you. Last week’s late night adventures in cookie-booking exhausted me. And I’m still tired. But it was so worth it! Those little cookies will sustain me until I can return to the kitchen … and to my home away from home … this blog!
Walnut-Apricot Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
Note: Another winner from the brilliant book by Dorie Greenspan. I swear everything in this book is so impressive. The original recipe for these jam thumbprint cookies uses hazelnuts in the dough and raspberry jam for the filling. I chose to try one of the variations with walnuts and apricots. I experimented and added more walnuts and just loved the texture of the cookie. I also added some ginger to the apricot jam for a bit of a kick. But be careful no to use too much! You should get between 40 and 50 cookies (depending on how big you make them).
- 2 cups walnuts, finely ground
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- icing sugar for dusting
- apricot jam (about a cup)
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and place a rack in the centre of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix the ground walnuts and the flour; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 30 seconds until creamy. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until fluffy (3 to 4 minutes).
- Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the walnut/flour mixture, a tablespoon at a time, until it is all incorporated.
- Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the dough and begin forming balls using about a teaspoonful of dough. Place the balls of dough on a baking sheet and using your thumb (or any finger you like!) make a deep indentation in each ball of dough. Don’t break through the bottom of the dough.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for about 16 minutes. The cookies will be slightly golden around the edges and on the bottom.
- Remove the cookies and let them sit on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool, dust the cookies liberally with icing sugar.
- In a small pot, heat the apricot jam and ginger (if using) until it starts to bubble. Remove from the heat and using a teaspoon to fill each cookie with the jam.
- Let the jam cool completely before serving the cookies.