Hazelnut Rosemary Jam Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen1 cup shelled hazelnuts 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks) 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups sifted flour 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary Good quality jam Special equipment: Parchment paper (seriously) Toast and grind hazelnuts. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread hazelnuts in single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven until fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a pie plate or other dish where they can cool quickly, in a single layer. When nuts are totally cooled, grind in a food processor, using short bursts; if the nuts overheat, they can grind into a paste. After several short bursts, I let them sit as I worked on the dough, occasionally giving them quick blasts until they were finely ground into uniform particles. Don't go crazy with the grinding--you want ground nuts, not powder. Leave in the food processor bowl. Make the cookie dough. Cream softened butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric beater. Beat in egg and salt. Using a low speed on the mixer, gradually incorporate flour, occasionally scraping down the bowl sides to make sure it combines evenly with the butter/sugar mixture. Sprinkle chopped rosemary over hazelnuts in food processor and pulse a few times to incorporate it evenly in the ground nuts. Gradually add to butter/sugar/flour mixture, again using a low speed on your mixer. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 2 hours or overnight (the more firm and chilled it becomes, the easier it is to form the cookies). Bake the cookies. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, about 1 level tablespoon of dough per cookie. Arrange a dozen of them on a sheet of parchment paper that fits your cookie sheet. Slightly flatten balls with the palm of your hand--they will spread more during baking, so don't squash them. Slide the parchment paper sheet onto cookie sheet and bake until the cookies are lightly golden, about 8 to 12 minutes. While they're baking, prepare another dozen on a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Also, slightly warm the jam to make it easier to work with--setting small bowls of preserves near my oven's exhaust vent on the stovetop did a great job. When the first batch is done, slide the baked-cookie-laden parchment paper off the cookie sheet and onto a table or countertop. Slide the raw-cookie-dough-laden parchment sheet onto the cookie sheet and pop it into the oven. While cookies are still warm, press indentations into the tops. You can use the rounded end of a wooden spoon, but sticking with the thumbprint tradition, I used gingerly touches with various digits so my thumbs didn't take all the heat. It gave me better control over the shape of the dents. Spoon a half-teaspoon or so of warmed jam into each cookie. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to plates. Storing the cookies. These cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container. But don't stack them, store them in a single layer; the jam centers will stick to the undersides of other cookies and won't be as company-ready pretty.
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to The Christian Science Monitor and The Chicago Sun-Times, he writes weekly food pieces for cable station USA Network's Character Approved Blog. His recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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Thank you so much for sharing, Terry!
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