Saturday, March 24, 2007

Some Day My 'Prints Will Come

Now that spring is here, bringing with it those invigorating warm winds -- okay, those rain-filled gusts -- I'm feeling the urge to do a little spring cleaning.

So I woke up early this morning and launched myself into a frenzy of cleaning, right down to scrubbing the hardwood floors. It felt so much better to have the place looking and smelling cleaning and feeling a little more airy that I decided to extend my spring cleaning to the kitchen, using up a few items from the pantry.

I've had in my mind for a couple of weeks now the idea of turning regular thumbprint cookies into a kid-friendly peanut butter and jelly version. I don't have a cozy relationship with thumbprint cookies, though: the first time I ever made them (when I was seven or eight), I had not yet learned that you always have to be aware of what you're doing in the kitchen, and I let the cookies burn. Not pretty.

Over the years, though, both my patience and my baking skills have improved, so I felt confident that I could not only alter a thumbprint cookie recipe successfully but also keep myself from allowing an unattended oven to scorch all my hard work.

So I started with creaming together the last of the peanut butter with some good local butter, then adding local honey (the last of this jar), local maple syrup, and fragrant vanilla. I mixed in enough flour for the dough to hold together in soft but reasonably firm portions, rolled the dough into balls, and rolled them in a dish of finely chopped peanuts (the last in the tin).

Then I set the dough balls on the cookie sheets, pressed the appropriate indentations into them, and filled them with the last of the cherry jam and a good bit of the remaining blueberry-strawberry jam.

Though I was busy filling the second tray and washing dishes while the first pan full of cookies baked, I managed to get through the entire recipe's worth without burning a single cookie (even if a little bit of jam spilled over onto the pan and got a little crisp).

After a morning full of Cinderella-like toil, it was a treat to kick back in the evening with my 'prints for dessert.

A fairy tale ending? I'll say. And those cookies will last longer than happily ever after!

Peanut Butter and Jam Thumbprints

The basis for this recipe comes from the "Jammies" recipe from the Amazing Grains co-op in Lawrence, Kansas, found in Uprisings (one of my favorite baking books for its emphasis on whole grains). It's been a while since I've made thumbprints, but when you have more jam than you know what to do with, it seems like a sensible option for dessert. And of course, I always like peanut butter. If I have enough won't power (because I certainly "will" if given half a chance!), maybe I can save a few for my Adorable Nephews... but I would think that kids of all ages would enjoy these.

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c honey
1/4 c maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c peanuts, finely chopped
jelly or jam of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In large bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add honey, maple syrup, and vanilla, and cream until well blended. Add flours and salt and mix until a soft dough is formed. If needed, add a little more flour for shaping.

Shape dough into 1" balls. Roll balls in a dish of the chopped peanuts. Set dough balls on baking sheets and press down with thumbs, leaving a well-defined indentation. Fill with small amounts of jam.

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 F. Remove to wire cooling racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

Makes 3 dozen


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