HOLDING ON Guest Post by Karen Stivali
One of my favorite scenes in Meant To Be is the Christmas scene that takes place the first year Daniel and Marienne are friends. In the scene she’s on a holiday baking binge and has every flat surface in the kitchen covered in cooling racks of different kinds of cookies. Daniel sits with her to keep her company as she cooks and manages to work his way through sampling all the cookies. The last one he tries is a jam topped butter cookie that looks just like cookies he remembers from his childhood. Cookies he’s been craving ever since his mum passed away and has never quite been able to find. Marienne’s recipe is so spot on it floors him, as does the sweet surprise she gives him later that night.
Food and cooking play a big part in several of my books because they’re big parts of my real life. I love to cook and I love sharing what I make with friends and family. Tastes and smells play a big part in sense memories for me, too. There are a lot of Marienne’s recipes on my blog ( www.karenstivali.com) but I never blogged the Christmas cookie recipe, so I’m going to share the recipe for Daniel’s mum’s jam cookies with you right now. There are a million and one recipes for these types of cookies (thumb prints, butter cookies, jam drops) but this is the best I’ve ever tried. They’re simple to make and totally worth it. Try them, you won’t be sorry.
Daniel’s Mum’s Cookies (a.k.a. Jam Drops)
9 tablepoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (but you’ll use slightly less than that)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Seedless jam (I use either strawberry, raspberry or black raspberry)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream butter and sugar until completely blended. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add the flour a ½ cup at a time until you’ve added 1 ½ cups. Knead in the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticky (you will usually not use the entire remaining ½ cup, probably more like ¼ cup, but judge by texture—do not let it get to the point where the dough is crumbly).
Form the dough into 1” balls, roll until smooth and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Use something to make an indentation in each ball. I like to use the handle to my rolling pin—it makes a nice deep indentation that is perfect for holding jam. You can use a wooden dowel or the handle of a wooden spoon—whatever you have that will made a nice deep well in each cookie.
Use a small spoon to place jam inside each indentation. You don’t want to use too much or it will spill out when it bakes, so try to make sure the top of the jam is level with the top of the cookie dough.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes. When you check on the cookies you want to make sure the jam is bubbling. If it hasn’t come to a boil yet, they’re not done! Once you see that the jam is bubbling away and the cookies have started to crack a teeny bit, they’re ready to be removed from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then carefully place them on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way. (If you remove the cookies from the cookie sheet too soon the jam will still be liquidy and will pour right out of the cookies—don’t do that!)
Once they are completely cool, place the cookies in an airtight container. They will last for a few weeks (if you hide them somewhere that no one can find them—if you leave them in plain sight they’ll be gone within a day).
Makes approximately 36 cookies.