Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies

Hello readers! After a long absence (which has included some great travel on both coasts), I am back in my tiny apartment and back to writing. Thanks to family and friends for egging me on about why I haven’t posted anything in forever–your enthusiasm has been a great antidote to my laziness.

This summer has totally flown by, but that doesn’t mean that great things haven’t happened in the kitchen. Perhaps my biggest project of the summer was the six dozen cookies I baked for my sister’s bridal shower. My mother and I threw a big party at my parents’ house earlier in the summer to celebrate my sister’s impending nuptials. The theme of the day was something along the lines of “Laid Back Garden Party”–we had sandwiches and grilled vegetables catered, we made a bunch of salads and side dishes, and we poured glass after glass of homemade lemonade and sangria. For dessert, we had a beautiful Sachertorte from Marjolaine Pastry Shop in New Haven. To round things out and balance out the chocolate, I made a bunch of these lovely cornmeal cookies.

I had been itching to make thumbprint cookies for a while, ever since my friend Abby at my old job made a similar recipe for our boss’ office bridal shower last year. The cookie base is sweet, savory, and chewy with just a hint of crunch from the cornmeal. It works well with a variety of different flavors of jam. The recipe that I adapted calls for guava jam or guava paste, which I would have loved to use but couldn’t find. Still, I found that the flavors I used–grapefruit, raspberry, plum cherry, and apricot–were perfectly lovely.

Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies (Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 1992)

Makes about two dozen cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Any flavor of jam that you like

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, cornmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until it is fluffy. Mix in the egg yolk and vanilla, and then add the dry ingredients. I found in the first batch that I needed to add some egg white in because the dough mixture was a little too crumbly. The following batches were fine with just the yolk. I’d suggest hanging onto the white once you separate the egg–just in case.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls (maybe the size of a walnut) and arrange them on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 or 2 inches apart. Then comes the fun part! Press your thumb into each one (hence the thumbprint) and fill the indentations with the jam of your choice.

Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes until the bottoms just start to brown. Don’t overbake them! When you take them out of the oven, let them cool on a rack for a bit–or, if you’re like me, stuff your face and try to save some for everyone else (good thing I made six dozen).

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