i love cookies. they are a single serving of delicious cuteness. anyone who knows me may realize that:
1.) i like my food looking good. i want my food to look attractive. if it looks ugly, i’ll find a way to doll it up.
2.) but just as important, it HAS to taste really good… though i was taught never to waste food, and would never throw anything away that i’ve taken a bite out of. never. if i don’t finish it, it’s leftovers for lunch tomorrow. so if something doesn’t taste great, i’ll improvise. i’ll find a way to make it good. i will make myself crazy fixing “broken” recipes.
3.) it has to be, in some small way, healthyish. i have a pretty delicate tummy, so there are certain health standards i hold for the food i make. cookies, for example, are my small allowance of fat, so i do have a little wiggle room for butter in cookie recipes. also, i will not use all purpose flour in them, and this rule is pretty easy to abide by.
on any given day, if you come to my house, i will probably offer you a cookie. i keep them stashed. i love them. i have a small library of recipes that fit my 3 main expectations for them. so when valentine’s day found it’s way to us, i knew i had to step up with something special. i wanted this to be an easy execution, but a somewhat fancy one, too, because it was a special occasion. the recipe started as a daydream, which went something like this:”oh man, i love cookies so much. i love my sugar cookie recipe. it couldn’t get better than a simple sugar cookie., -well, sugar cookies dipped in jam. holy toledo. i have to have cookies with jam. i will make it work, not for others, but for myself. i will make sandwich cookies so that i can eat sandwich cookies. i love cookies.” yeah, it was that selfish. usually i think this way “hey, friend fill in the blank really likes this ingredient, so i should make cookies that cater to that.” not this time, though. i just wanted to make them so that i could eat them. and i did. that night, i came home and i made it work. there was no stopping me. they were delicious, and i did manage to give some away. yes, there are a lot of steps here. it is a little time consuming, and the dough needs time to sit in the refrigerator. you can actually make the dough a day ahead and store it in the fridge, if you want to break up the steps. but it is totally worth setting aside some time on the weekend to do this.. -or in my case, stay up all night on a wednesday because “i have to do it NOW!”
here is how it went down:
strawberry jam sandwich cookies
for the sugar cookies:
2 cups white whole wheat flour (king arthur makes a nice one)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temp butter
3/4 cup sugar (i use raw cane, small granule sugar)
1 large egg (i actually used egg white)
2 tbsp 2% milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract (don’t skip this, it gives them a really delicate flavor)
1/4 cup or so maple syrup in a cup, pastry brush
1/4 cup or so large grain sugar
for the royal icing:
1/3 cup egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
4 cups powdered confectioner’s sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
for the jam:
12 oz. bag frozen strawberries
1/2 cup small granule sugar (or more to taste)
zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
*if you simply hate the idea of making jam, you can use store bought jam. it doesn’t taste quite as fresh, and looks a little wrinkly in the “window”, but i have a feeling that if you heated it on low and kept it well stirred, you may get to smooth out.
1. whisk together first four ingredients in medium bowl. place butter and sugar in large bowl and, using electric mixer, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
2. beat in egg, followed by milk and lemon extract.
3. add flour mixture and blend until just mixed. form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in wax paper, and chill at least 1 hour.
4. preheat oven to 375 degrees F. put oven rack in middle position. remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to a 1/4″ thickness on lightly floured surface. if you like a soft sugar cookie, you COULD roll a little thicker., but keep in mind that they won’t be quite as sturdy and may not hold jam without getting mushy. cut dough into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. be sure to cut equal amounts of bottom cookies as you cut top cookies. when cutting the top, use smaller cutter for window.
5. before transferring to cookie sheet, brush what will be the cookie tops with maple syrup and dust with large grain sugar. we saved the window pieces, too, and prepared half of them as “tops” with syrup and sugar. place cookies on ungreased baking sheet, spacing them 2″ apart, and bake 10 minutes or until pale brown around edges. cool completely on rack.
wait until cookies are all finished cooking and are cooling to begin this step. you don’t want the jam setting up.
on medium heat, saute frozen strawberries (do not defrost) with sugar. stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom or burning. the sugar should dissolve completely, but don’t let this caramelize. once they’ve released their juices and are hot through (20 minutes or so), remove from heat and dump into mesh sieve, pushing all juices through, into bowl. stir in zest. let cool. it should get a little firm (like jam that is a little watery). this is the jam filling for the cookies.
*don’t discard the strawberry mush. save it in a jar for ice cream!!! no wasting!
again, wait until cookies are cooled to begin this step, as royal icing gets VERY stiff, very fast.
using electric mixer at low speed, blend egg whites, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar in medium bowl until frothy. gradually add sugar and beat at medium-high speed until icing thickens and stiffens, about 4 to 6 minutes. at times, i have omitted some of the powdered sugar if the icing seems like it will be too stiff.
spread or pipe icing onto “bottom” cookie halfs, just outlining them. you aren’t filling the whole cookie with the icing, it’s just to keep the jam in place and glue the two cookies together. carefully spoon jam into center and spread up to icing “barrier”. the icing will keep the jam from spreading out over the edge and being a gross mess. gently put top with bottom, and move onto next cookie. don’t try to ice all the cookie bottoms at once assembly line style. do each cookie indivdualy.. the icing gets stiff very quickly. one cookie at a time! i had brian help me do this, we make a good team. i iced, he jammed and sandwiched. we used royal icing only for the tiny “window only scraps.”
let ’em set. no stacking. this will give you a good amount of cookies. our apartment was full of lovely little cookies. after setting for a few hours, we stacked them with wax paper between them, and stored in plastic air tight containers.
these cookies were good. and i mean really good. they looked like they came from a bakery. they were crisp and light. i really just love them. i’m sure you could use a different berry for the jam, but i really liked this combination. such a fancy looking treat! they remind me of those girl scout cookies with the lemon cream and jam in the center. but these are better. oh, more on girl scout cookies later……