The holidays are officially in full swing now. This means that from today, through to January 1, my home is consistently full of the sweet, sweet smells of baking (you’re allowed to be jealous, but also understand that this means I need to get my gym routine back up). One of my favourite cookies to make are shortbreads, and I make a lot of them, in a myriad of different ways. The ones that I look forward to the most though are sandwich cookies. A few weeks ago I was asked to create a recipe for Bonne Maman to highlight their Cherry Jam. I was super excited, because this is the only jam that I stock in our house. It’s the one in the grocery store with the checkered lid, and the only one that I’ve found that’s as good as homemade (oh, hi no artificial colourings, additives, or preservatives!). That’s the difference a family run company makes. Vive la France!
I knew instantly that it had to be a sandwich cookie, because it looks so pretty with the peak-a-boo top (they always remind me of stained glass windows), showing off the big pieces of cooked cherries inside. I wanted to do a play on empire cookies, a throwback to my English heritage. When I make those, I use a plain shortbread with some marzipan in the center (which would be a truly decadent addition to these as well). I wanted to make these cookies less fussy though, and just get that almond flavour right into the dough.
Few things go together as well as almonds and cherries do. I wanted the flavour to be noticeable, but not overpowering, so I used a mixture of ground almonds and almond extract. The deep, robust flavour of the Bonne Maman cherry jam just sings in these cookies now, and creates a perfect balance between the buttery shortbread and nutty sweetness.
The best part of all this holiday baking though, is the help I get from the little ones. Sophie was thrilled to be in the kitchen with me yesterday, and given the new responsibility of turning on and off the mixer.
You’ve absolutely got to add these to your list of holiday baking, I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup icing sugar
- ½ cup ground almonds (almond flour)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 cups flour
- Cherry Jam for filling (I only use Bonne Maman)
- Icing Sugar for dusting the tops
- Preheat your oven to 325ºF and line your baking sheets with mats or parchment paper.
- Beat the butter, salt, and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the ground almonds and almond extract. Slowly add the flour, beating until just combined. The dough will be soft to the touch and workable, but not sticky.
- Flour your work surface well. Flatten the dough into a disk with your hand, and then roll fairly thinly, to about 1/8" thickness. Cut out into circles (I did 2"), and then cut a smaller circle out of the center of half of them. The dough is very easy to work with, and scraps can be re-rolled until completely used up.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to your prepared sheets, leaving ½" between them. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges are just barely starting to brown.
- Remove the cookies to cooling racks, and let cool completely.
- Once the cookies are cool, spread about 1 teaspoon of cherry jam onto the back of the solid circles, then place the rings on top. Dust the tops with icing sugar.
I've been finding cookie presses in all the stores this holiday. I love the way it makes the cookies look a bit more polished and unique. If you have some, just press the solid circles with them!