Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bing Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

When we were looking for Bing cherry recipes last week, I googled 'Bing cherry recipes' and found a Bing Cherry Thumbprint Cookie Recipe. They looked so tasty! Plus, Joy the Baker recently posted her Honey Roasted Peanut Thumbprint Cookies so I had thumbprint cookies on my mind.

Last night we made the Bing Cherry Thumbprint Cookies. I have made many kinds of cookies, but until last night I had never made thumbprint cookies.

We started a bit late, a bit before 9 pm, owing to the facts that with his new mandatory work hours SP rarely gets home before 7:30 pm and it was trash night -- it took us a while to eat dinner, clean up, and gather all the trash.

First, the homemade cherry jam. SP pitted 2 cups of cherries. This was about 36 cherries, which would be one cherry for each cookie assuming the dough yields 3 dozen cookies. He put the pitted cherries in a pot with 1/8 cup water. This seemed like too little water, as if the cherries might scorch, but it really does work OK. We kept the heat on low - just to be sure the cherries didn't burn! It took nearly 20 minutes for the cherries and water to boil and simmer.

While waiting for the cherries to soften, I measured out the sugar and SP measured out the lemon zest and juice. He also gathered the butter, egg, almond extract (which we chose to use instead of vanilla - either can be used), and flour.

Then it was time to add a cup of sugar and the lemon zest & juice to the soft cherries. SP stirred and kept an eye on the cherry jam.It took another 15-20 minutes for the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to boil/simmer and cook.We set the jam aside to cool.

Time for the cookies! This part is very quick. Cream the sugar and butter, add egg and extract, add flour, and you're done! I used my cookie dough scoop to scoop out 2 1/2 dozen cookies - the recipe says it makes 2-3 dozen.

Last week on Food Network we watched a Giada At Home episode in which she made rosemary scones with a dollop of strawberry jam in the center. She used a small measuring spoon to make her round indentation in the scone dough for the jam. I decided that I would use a teaspoon to make the thumbprint! Being a bit of a girlie girl, I keep my nails a bit long and polished and I didn't want to get thumbnail indentations in the cookies and then bits of dough all up under my nails.The teaspoon technique was quite easy and made them all look uniform but make sure to dip the spoon in flour before every indentation or else the dough will pull away on the spoon after each indentation.

Time to fill the thumbprints with jam! However, our jam was not cool enough. It was still a bit runny and not thickened enough. It was nearing 10 pm and we couldn't really put everything on hold so... Each cooked cherry fit nicely into the thumbprint. I had to be careful with the jam juice. I didn't want it to run all over the cookie and down the sides and then cook and stick to the cookie sheet (I suppose one could use parchment paper on the cookie sheet; we didn't). I used an iced tea spoon - they are narrower than a regular spoon so I feel like it's easier to direct something like the runny jam into the indentation and not have it run all over!Time to bake!!These smelled delicious - I couldn't wait to try one. In fact, I think I waited a whole 5 seconds after SP transferred the cookies to the cooling rack before grabbing one to sample. He admonished me to beware of hot cherry jam but it wasn't that hot despite just coming out of the oven. It was delicious! My not really complaint, but observation: As the cookie baked, the thumbprint indentation expanded. In unbaked form the thumbprint was fully filled with the cherry and no room for extra juice/jam but the thumbprint after baking looks like it could use a bit more filling. I think next time we need to make the jam the day before so that it really sets into a jam-like consistency - ours was too runny. This way, a bit extra of the thick, non-runny jam can be placed in the thumbprint with the cherry and it shouldn't run down the sides of the cookies. Then, when the cookie bakes and the print expands, the jam will (hopefully) expand in the thumbprint and fill the thumbprint.

These are a keeper. We'd like to try them with vanilla extract, just to compare to the almond extract ones. The shortbread like cookie part is very good. And the homemade jam is excellent - much better than store bought cherry jam, which we used in June's Cherry Crostada and which SP found a bit too sticky sweet for his taste. I'd like to make our own cherry jam the next time we make the Cherry Crostada. It was easier than I expected and less sticky/messy than I expected.

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