Jam Thumbprint Cookies and Garden Update

April 30th, 2010

I am late with my Barefoot Blogger recipe this month but want to thank Cassandra of Foodie with Little Thyme for choosing this cookie recipe. We have had two cookie recipes this month and I am sure all of those with a sweet tooth are very pleased. But frankly, I hope that we have at least one savory recipe next month so that my scales will stop screaming at me. These cookies were very good and easy to make. For some reason my cookie dough was a little dry, so that the cookies crumbled when I rolled and pressed them. But that did not affect the buttery flavor. The coconut added a nice touch and you can get very creative with the jam that you use. All I had on hand was blueberry and raspberry. If you have apricot jam or orange marmalade it will give you a nice contrast with the raspberry jam if you do half of the cookies with each jam.

JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES ( The Barefoot Contessa )
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry and/or apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
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 disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.
Here is an update on the community garden with the help of garden centers. The below picture shows the view we have of Hickory Nut Falls and the mesh enclosure that we put around our plot. We enclosed two plots because we are sharing time and materials with our friend Don.
Everything is in the ground now. Pole beans will climb the round fence rails. The marked rows contain sugar snap peas, rainbow chard, shallots and green onions. We have two hills of squash and tomato plants, pepper plants and cucumbers.

Hopefully we will be harvesting by July. The Friends of Hickory Nut Gorge Community Gardens have asked all of the participants to donate 10% of the harvest to charity.

Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

April 7th, 2010

A cookie is a cookie . . . right? Not this cookie. Ina Garten has done it again. She has transformed a ho-hum oatmeal cookie into something very special indeed. I tried to exercise my weight control strategy of portion control by eating just one cookie to see if it was worth the effort and found that I needed just one more . . . and then another. By bedtime, I could not resist a glass of milk and just one more cookie. Even my husband, who loves all things chocolate said these were really good cookies. I am trying to analyse what made them so good. Was it the buttery flavor? Was it the generous amount of cinnamon? The dark brown sugar or the vanilla? Maybe toasting the pecan pieces first brought out the nutty goodness. Whatever it was, it was a “perfect storm” of flavors that came together from the first bite to the last. The only advice I would pass on to you is that I ended up with 52 cookies and Ina says that the recipe makes 30 to 35. Mine were smaller and crispier. Not a bad thing in my opinion.

It is Barefoot Blogger Thursday again and I want to thank Leslie of Lethally Delicious for choosing an Ina Garten recipe that I normally would have passed up as just another ordinary oatmeal cookie. It is anything but ordinary. Come and join the rest of our group and cook up everything Barefoot Contessa on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. How easy is that?


1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon groun d cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, raisins, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2 inch mound of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Chocolate-Almond Tassies

December 5th, 2009

It is time to begin Christmas baking. I like to bake several kinds of cookies that I can freeze and have ready when I need them. This recipe for Chocolate-Almond Tassies came from Damon Lee Fowler, a culinary historian and a Southern cook who lives in Savannah, Georgia. The recipe was featured in Bon Appetit last year. Tassies are miniature tartlets and are traditionally made with pecans, but Damon states that almonds have been imported into the Southern states since colonial time so they have always been a traditional part of the Christmas holidays. They are like miniature pecan pies; in this case almond pies with the addition of chocolate and a flavoring of Amaretto.
The recipe is easy and forgiving. The crust is rich with the addition of cream cheese and handles beautifully. The recipe can be done in stages if you do not have free hours to devote to it. The amaretto imparts a wonderful almond flavor to the tassies. If you do not wish to use it, you can substitue 1/2 tsp. almond extract and 1 1/2 Tbls water. If I can keep grabby hands away from these I will freeze them in a ziplock bag for a treat before Christmas or as part of a cookie exchange.
Makes 24
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons amaretto
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels
Dough/ Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt in large bowl, until blended. Stir in flour (dough will be soft and sticky). Scrape dough onto sheet of plastic wrap. Using plastic as aid, shape dough into disk. Cover and chill until firm, at least two hours.
Roll dough into twenty-four 1 inch balls; place 1 dough ball in each of 24 mini muffin cups. Chill 15 to 20 minutes. Using floured fingertips, press dough over bottom and upsides of each muffin cup, forming shell. Chill until ready to use, up to 1 day.
Filling/ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl until blended. Stir in almonds and chocolate morsels. Spoon filling into shells.
Bake tassies until crusts are golden brown and filling is set, 23 to 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Using small sharp knife, cut around each cookie to loosen, then turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Crispy- Creamy Chocolate Cookies

August 20th, 2009

If you recall, one of my new favorite cookies was this one. But I have to tell you that this chocolate cookie is probably the best cookie I have ever tasted. When I took the first batch from the oven I tasted one and took the rest of it to David who was sawing wood for trim work on our downstairs renovation. The next thing I knew, there he was in the kitchen covered in sawdust looking for another. It is that good. As well it should be. It is another fabulous recipe from Peggy Knickerbocker in her book Simple Soirees. Are you tired of this cookbook yet? I’m not.

The original recipe came from Pierre Herme, the famous Parisian baker. Peggy Knickerbocker divides her time between San Francisco and Paris. She adapted this cookie from his recipe. The recipe as written relies on only the best ingredients, as it should. Unfortunately I did not have access to the very best chocolate, but in spite of that the cookies were still outstanding. It is probably wrong to offer such superlatives in describing the unique richness of these cookies, but they really are worthy of a staring role as dessert at a dinner party.

The cookies are easy to prepare. They are slice and bake cookies. You just assemble them ahead of time, roll them into two logs, refrigerate and slice and bake when you are ready to serve them. As an aside, I have to tell you how great the internet is. When I read the recipe in the cookbook, it called for only 1/4 cup flour. I knew this could not be correct, so I googled Peggy’s name and the name of the cookies and found a site that had discovered the mistake in the cookbook and corrected the measurement to 1 and 1/4 cups. I would love some input from any of you who make them. The chocolate I used is in parenthesis. If you have access to the chocolate called for, I would love to hear from you about the results. These cookies are worthy of respect.


1/3 cup excellent quality processed, sweetened cocoa powder, such as E. Guittard or Scharffen Berger. ( I used Special Dark Hershey’s Cocoa; I know, I know; not good)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
11 Tbls. (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt or fleur de sel
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 ounces excellent quality bittersweet chocolate such as E. Guittard, roughly chopped ( I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, a 4 ounce bar.) I refrigerated it before chopping.

Sift together the cocoa powder, baking soda, and flour. In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer, cream the butter until smooth, add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and blend again. Add the salt and vanilla and blend for about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on the lowest speed until the ingredients are incorporated. The dough will be crumbly. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Turn the dough onto a work surface. Press the mixture together with your hands, forming a ball Cut the ball in half and work each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Slice the logs into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place the rounds on the baking sheets, 1 inch apart. If the cookies break apart, press them back together.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes. The cookies will not be firm nor appear to be done. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the sheet on a wire rack until they are barely warm. Store the cookies in an airtight container. The recipe says it makes 4 dozen, but 2 is more like it.

Auntie Cookies and the Importance of Personal History

August 4th, 2009

I have just returned from a trip to my hometown in Michigan. I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but travel and computer problems have left me frustrated with my ability to blog and comment on all of my favorite sites. What I am not frustrated about is the amazing visit I had to Michigan. There is no better place to be in the summer than Michigan. The corn fields are producing the sweetest corn I have ever tasted. The farms are cultivating apples, cherries and blueberries. The fertile dark soil makes home gardens proliferate with pole beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, and onions. My brother’s garden makes me so envious. I will be showing you pictures and telling you more about it in a later post. But for now I want to tell you about growing up in this beautiful place.

Our childhoods shape us in so many significant ways. I sometimes wonder why it is that things that happen to us in our early years carry such magic and nostalgia. It never seems to fade from our memories. The memories are rich with childhood innocence, but even as young as we were, there is a maturity in our thoughts that I don’t think our parents appreciated. I try to keep that in mind with my granddaughter. She is much more aware than I give her credit for. And she is creating her past and personal history on a daily basis.

I made a friend in Kindergarten. Her name was Lyla. We shared a locker. The school we attended held grades Kindergarten through 12th grade and it had marble halls, wide marble staircases and three floors. Lyla lived a few blocks away from me in a beautiful house with many rooms to explore and I remember spending nights with her and her sister Debbe. We shared so many experiences. We learned to read together in the first grade. She has just retired from a career as an English teacher. We ran away from the school bully who threatened to “beat her up” after school. I was supposed to have her back, but when confronted with Cora Mae, told her I would run and get her Mother. I think I just wanted to run. She has forgiven me for abandoning her. It actually took a little nudging to my memory to remember this incident. You see we just reconnected on Facebook. I haven’t seen her or talked to her since we were thirteen. We are renewing and reconciling our relationship. Sometimes friends drift apart but it is so comforting to come together again and complete the circle of friendship.

Lyla and I met again last Saturday at Caruso’s. Every town has a place where everyone hangs out and we had one of the best. Caruso’s Candy Kitchen is an old fashioned Soda Shop that makes the best Toasted Tuna that I have ever tasted. They have been making this sandwich since I was a young teenager and probably made it when my Mother was a young teenager. They also make their own candy and the old candy case has been in place since the store opened years ago. Nothing has changed. All of us from Dowagiac return to our roots and memories at Caruso’s. Lyla and I had so much to talk about that we could have stayed all afternoon. Our friendship has been renewed. She now looks like her Mother and I look like mine.

Lyla brought me some gifts. Among them was a tin of Auntie Cookies. The story about these cookies is another personal history. Parthenia Hutton (1861-1958) was the maiden aunt who mothered three generations of Lewis offspring ( Dood was Lyla’s Grandmother and Parthenia’s niece). Aunt Senie was a master cook. She was especially adept at making sugar cookies which she did every Tuesday for most of her adult life. These cookies are as good today as they were over a century ago.


In Dood’s own words.

Turn on oven to 400 degrees before you begin.

(If you can read, you can bake.)

1 C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 Cup shortening – all margarine or 1/2 margarine and 1/2 Crisco
1 t lemon extract
Mix the above ingredients. ( Lyla uses her Kitchenaid) Or hand mixer

Then add 2 eggs, one at a time. Beat with mixer after each addition.

Next add 1/2 C buttermilk with 3/4 t soda dissolved in it. ( I think dissolving the soda is important.)

Measure 2 C flour and 1 t salt. Then sift together into wet ingredients.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment covered cooke sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle sugar on top of cookies. Enjoy.

This is a picture of Lyla and me in front of Caruso’s. So much history, not to be forgotten, in our friendship.

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.