Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

I made these for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap - an event that matches bloggers from around the country to exchange cookies and raise money for pediatric cancer research. A most worthy cause and a lot of fun to boot (who doesn't like getting cookies in the mail?)!This is made possible by the organizational whiz-bang of Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen and the generous support of these sponsors:  

Gold Medal FlourOXODixie Crystals

I received cookies from Mallory at Fork vs Spoon (k-i-l-l-e-r chocolate pistachio) and from Carly at Icing on the Cake (very tasty oatmeal brown sugar walnut). I sent cookies to Amy at A Healthy Life for Me, Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life and Itz at Itz Linz.

Sounds like I was matched with some health-conscious cooks. Is that the category I fall in? I think anyone who generally cooks from whole foods versus a box is a healthy cook, but I certainly enjoy my fair share of burgers, fries, peanut butter cups and the like. I wonder if I overstated the health focus in my blogger profile? Sort of like in college when I said on my roommate matching form that I was interested in art mostly because I had a poster of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" my uncle had given me and I kind of liked it, plus I really liked the image of myself as a college student who was knowledgable about art.

Because of that they put me with Nora, a tall art major from northern MN who wore white lipstick with whom I had nothing in common.  I arrived with a suitcase full of madras plaid shorts and polo shirts I liked to pop the collars on and she with a less than curious attitude about city girls who wore polo shits with silly stand up collars. But we found common ground in our mutual love of green olive pizza and the sauna at the pool that got us through the winter. How did I get on this subject? Oh yeah—cookies!

These cookies are not healthy (as no cookie should be). It's my mother's recipe that no matter how many times I make them, are never as good as hers. They're not-too-sweet, rolled in finely chopped walnuts, topped with a dollop of cranberry jam that I made using fresh cranberries and finished with few flecks of sea salt. Tender, crisp, sweet, tart and just a tiny tiny tiny bit salty.

Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies

makes 2 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup cranberry jam (recipe follows - must be made ahead) or other jam you like
Flaked sea salt (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375ยบ
2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Sift in all dry ingredients and sit until combined (batter will be thick and dry). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Toast walnuts in oven for 5 minutes until fragrant. Chop in food processor until finely chopped (but not paste). Put in a shallow dish (like a pie plate).
4. Beat egg white with a little water in a separate bowl until frothy.
5. Take teaspoon of cookie dough and roll into a ball. Roll in egg white, then chopped walnuts. Place on parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until dough is gone.
6. Bake for 9 minutes then pull pans out and make a small indentation in each cookie (with a clean finger or small spoon) and fill with jam. Return to oven for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Cranberry Jam
1 cup cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 orange, zest and juice

1. Bring cranberries, sugar, zest and juice to a slow boil in a heavy saucepan, stirring frequently. Boil for 5 minutes until cranberries pop and sugar dissolves and thickens. Mash up cranberries well with a potato masher and let boil for another 2-3 minutes until sauce is thick and caramely.
2. Push through a sieve to take out the skins if you prefer a smoother jam (this feels very chef-y)or just put into a heatproof bowl and cool completely in the refrigerator (uncovered until it reaches room temperature so you don't get condensation dripping from the cover).


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