Cranberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

There’s no doubt it’s a blog record to post three cranberry recipes in a row and I promise you it not only wasn’t planned, I had little idea it had happened until this morning. Perhaps cranberries were on the brain, on sale, or in my heart, but I don’t think so though I adore them unabashedly. Just an oh-so-odd coincidence. Right then.

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Each year for quite a few, I’ve developed a new Christmas cookie for the blog even though there’s nothing new to eat under God’s heaven. I hope they’re all at least fresh reminders of the happy cheer involved in creation to celebrate any winter holiday you choose. I never google the new cookie to see if anyone’s made them before and I hope you won’t either. For 2021, I offer up a twist on the old comforting thumbprint jam butter cookie — this time all dolled up with homemade cranberry jam laced with orange and turned all festive with squiggles and dashes of melted white chocolate. Start at least a day ahead as the jam needs to thicken overnight in the refrigerator and the dough must chill an hour or up to 24. Give yourself plenty of time to make these and get into the futsiness of rolling dough into smooth one-inch balls (measure a few with a ruler to make sure you’ve got the size right), poking perfect holes in the centers (I like the end of a big wooden spoon for this), and carefully barely filling said holes with the perky jewel tone jam. Allow patience to reign with baking, then cooling and waiting for the moment when they’re ready to grace with just enough white chocolate drizzle and accompany your afternoon coffee. Make a few practice cookies to get yourself in the swing of things and you’ll soon be adding these to your yearly Christmas cookie baking. A few photos to get you started:

Got the idea? Try this:

Cranberry Jam Thumbprints

This year’s More Time tasty holiday winner is a thumbprint cookie filled with my Cranberry Jam and drizzled with white chocolate. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I adapted the delicious basic butter cookie from Classic Thumbprint Cookies With Jam by Siobhan Adcock. I’ve attached a recipe for my own homemade cranberry jam, but you could buy a jar of seedless raspberry preserves and use that instead. Begin at least a day ahead as the jam needs to rest overnight in the fridge and the dough needs 1-24 hours refrigeration. Read through before beginning and make just a few cookies to start with to get the hang of the process. Merry baking!!
makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 oz) salted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: vanilla and almond extract – can use 2 tsp vanilla instead
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ cup homemade cranberry jam (Recipe below—make at least a day ahead. It makes about 2 cups.) Can sub seedless raspberry jam.
  • ½ cup 3 oz white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate melted for drizzle – can sub milk or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • BEAT WET INGREDIENTS: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and beat (cream) on medium speed until light and fluffy –about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat for an additional minute.
  • ADD DRY INGREDIENTS/MIX/REFRIGERATE 1-24 HOURS: On top of the butter mixture, add the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, and orange zest. Stir dry ingredients together lightly and then turn mixer onto low speed, mixing dry and wet ingredients until just well-combined. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour/up to 24 hours.
  • PREHEAT OVEN/ROLL DOUGH INTO BALLS/FILL WITH CRANBERRY JAM: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rack in the center of the oven. Let jam sit out or microwave and stir briefly to warm up a little before using. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (you may have to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter if it’s been in the fridge overnight) and place 3-inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using the end of a wooden spoon (1/2-inch in diameter) or your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie about ¾ of the way through the cookie, rerolling if the dough cracks. Using a 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon (or other small spoon), fill with jam, being careful to not overfill or the cookies will spread, and the jam will escape.
  • BAKE/COOL: Bake one sheet at a time 11-13 minutes OR until bottoms of cookies are just golden. Cool on sheet on rack 2-5 minutes before transferring to rack to cool completely.
  • DRIZZLE WITH MELTED CHOCOLATE/LET DRY: Heat the chocolate on 50% power in the microwave for one minute and then stir or whisk until smooth. If needed, heat again for 10-seconds at a time until chocolate is melted. You can also melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water on the stovetop. Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over cooled cookies letting a little chocolate fall back into the cup before gently waving the fork over the cookies. Continue to stir or whisk chocolate to keep it smooth as you decorate the other batches. You can also spoon melted chocolate into a small storage bag, snip a tiny corner, and, squeezing carefully, drizzle chocolate. Let drizzled cookies set several hours drying before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days (layer with waxed paper), in the refrigerator for a week, or in the freezer for 6 months. If freezing, do not add chocolate drizzle until cookies are thawed.

Notes

CRANBERRY JAM: makes about a pint (Use extra on waffles, biscuits, pancakes or toast.)
Make at least a day ahead or up to a week, storing tightly covered in the refrigerator. Jam can also be frozen. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. After chilling, remove lid and let sit on counter for 30-60 minutes or warm briefly in the microwave (stir afterward) before using in cookies.
• 12-ounce bag (3 ½ cups) fresh or frozen cranberries (don’t thaw frozen berries)
• ½ peeled and cored medium apple, cut into small dice
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 cup water
• Zest and juice of a large orange
Add all ingredients to a heavy 2 or 3-quart saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly, until thickened. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Pour jam into a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl and using the back of a wooden spoon, force through, scraping bottom of sieve several times. Discard solids or save to stir into plain yogurt. Cool and store overnight tightly covered or up to a week in the refrigerator. The jam will set up more after refrigerating but will still be rather thin – exactly what you want for the cookies.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. All rights reserved.

Note: A few friends are currently testing this recipe just a few more times. If there are changes, I’ll fix the recipe and post something about the process here.



Need an easy yummy cookie for gifts? Try my Chocolate Covered Cherry Oatmeal Cookies.


I made quite a bit of dough trying to get this recipe right. While all of it wasn’t just perfect for these particular cookies, it had to be baked up and here are a few of the resulting goodies from “the mistakes”:

Top: old-fashioned jam thumbprints rolled in walnuts. Bottom: instead of kisses in peanut butter cookies, these are kisses in butter cookies rolled in finely-chopped almonds.

TIPS:

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKIE-BAKING EQUIPMENT….ASK SANTA!!

Cookie Spatulas: I keep two of these tiny cookie spatulas in the drawer at all times because if I lost one, I don’t know what I’d do.

Use real cookie sheets to bake cookies, not rimmed baking sheets that restrict the flow of hot air to the cookies. I like cookie sheets something like the one below. Choose a heavy, sturdy sheet with one (or two) raised edge(s):

Get a bench scraper if you don’t have one. Scrape boards and counters clean, lift dough, slice dough logs, etc. This one even has a ruler:

Cookie scoops come in many sizes and save your hands from hours of rolling.

Any oven thermometer will do. This is very nice one.

PARCHMENT PAPER: Costco gives a good deal, but any will do.


Look it up:

Classic Thumbprint Cookies Recipe/EPICURIOUS

How to Melt White Chocolate/TASTYTIP

Secrets to Making Perfect Cookies/WHATSCOOKINGAMERICA

90 Best Christmas Cookies/GH


LIFE GOES ON:

You might remember our turkey visitor before Thanksgiving. She returned yesterday and we know why turkeys are the color they are and stay in wooded areas….what great camouflage! Look closely and you’ll find her.

Thanks for keeping me company in the the kitchen all during 2021…. I might take the last little bit off as I’ll be traveling. My husband Dave early-gifted me with a MacBook air to take along for the two-week journey, but we’ll see how it all goes.

While Christmas often seems like so much ho-ho jingle jangle and too many presents all around, you can enjoy making something infinitely special of it with the food you offer and enjoy. Out of the many facets of celebration, folks remember holiday meals forever–for better or for worse but hopefully for better. Special dishes bind us to those who’ve gone before (Remember grandma’s noodles?), help us to nourish those here in the present, and provide the example of happy togetherness going forward. Food is not just something to fill our tummies, but can be tangible love that intimates, “You’re special here. I like spending time with you. I want you to be happy, full, and healthy. I remember the things you like. I had fun cooking for you. Come back.”

Set your table with your best for yourself or a crowd. Cook the old favorites or new fancy recipes. Or both. Make the moment special, because it is.

Listen to Norah Jones: Christmas in My Soul/Christmastime…recorded live on top of the Empire State Building. 12/15/21.

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