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!