the appetizer:

Learn classic but simple baking techniques with Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees, including recipes for Pie Pastry; Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Milk and Rum; Buttery Jam-Filled Linzer Thins; and Caramel Turtle Bars.

I Love Desserts


Buttery Jam-Filled Linzer Thins

Makes 2 dozen (2-1/2") sandwich cookies


These pretty, delicate, fine-textured cutouts are great for a coffee or tea break. While prepared preserves are fine, these cookies are worthy of homemade jam. I make skillet jam all the time with whatever fruit I have on hand that's just on the verge of being too ripe to last another day. It's fast, easy, has great fresh flavor (unlike longer-cooked preserves), and-best of all—you don't have to drag out the canner and be in front of the stove all day. These cookies are also yummy with hazelnuts in place ofthe almonds and filled with blackberry jammy tribute to the bounty here in Oregon. And have fun with decorative cutouts anytime, not just at Christmas. I particularly love flower cutouts: The petals get nice browned edges and the brilliantly colored jam looks gorgeous in the centers.

Grind the nuts in a rotary cheese grater; reserve. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy with no lumps, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the egg yolk and salt until the dough is smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, and reserved nuts until combined. Form the dough into a rough rectangle; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the dough in half. Between sheets of parchment paper, roll out half of the dough into a rectangle 1/8" to 3/16" thick. Freeze the sheet of rolled dough until firm, 15 minutes. While waiting, roll out other half of the dough in the same fashion. (You can stack the sheets of rolled dough, separated by parchment, on a sheet pan or cookie sheet in the freezer.) Cut out the cookies, using one chilled sheet of dough at time, and transfer the cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets. Cut out 1/2" to 3/4" holes in half of the cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are puffed in the centers and lightly browned on the edges. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Spoon about 3/4 teaspoon jam into the center of each whole cookie. Dust the remaining cookies (the ones with the holes) liberally with powdered sugar. Top each jam cookie with a powdered sugar cookie.

Skillet Jam

Easy and versatile! In a medium skillet (or saucepan) over medium heat, combine some berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, Marionberries, blueberries, currants, cranberries, or any combination that appeals to you) or chopped stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, or apricots) that you have on hand with sugar to taste. For fruit that is not extremely ripe or is a bit on the hard side, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water per cup of fruit so that it can soften as it cooks without burning. Cook until the fruit just begins to fall apart. Dissolve 1 teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water per 1 cup of cooked fruit and add to the pan. (Just eyeball it; it'll be fine.) Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture just begins to thicken. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


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This page created October 2009