Holly-Daze (cookies and end-of-the-year holidays)

The end of the year always creeps up on me.  No matter how much I think to myself, “Oh, this year, I’m going to do x, y, and z because I didn’t get to last year”, I never do end up doing x, y, or z.  Take, for instance, holiday cards.  This has been on my to-do list every year since 2010.  I think, in fact, that year for Christmas (which was only a month and a half after we got married) Jarrod and I considered sending out Christmas Thank-You cards to serve a dual purpose.  Those cards did not get used, and have since been buried under piles of craft supplies somewhere.  This year, I’ve guiltily cooed over friends’ photo greeting cards complete with adorable pictures of babies and pets.  I’m sure my long-distance friends would love their sweet and thoughtful act reciprocated, but alas, Christmas and New Years have both rushed by without me ordering any cute customizable cards online.  Hopefully, next year.  Yes, next year, the first Christmas-related activity I’ll do is to send cards to friends.  If I don’t send out cards, no Christmas tree.  If I don’t send out cards, no cookie-baking and decorating.  I’m holding myself to this promise!

Other items on my to-do lists in the past few years have been to write out cards to all my coworkers at school (success=2012; fail=2011, 2013), take a family picture in front of our Christmas tree (success=2011, 2012; fail=2013), decorate the house for Christmas (success=2011, 2012; fail=2013), and make and deliver cookies to coworkers and Juni and Ollie’s crew at boarding and the vet (success=2011, 2013; fail=2012).  This last item on my list was quite a feat, since I ended up taking 3 days baking four different types of treats to hand-deliver on the last day we were in town before starting our drive to South Dakota… after a full workday, too.  This is what our kitchen looked like for those 3 days of baking:

Image

To be fair, the kitchen counter typically looks like that, anyway.  Just with less cookies.  Add some empty pizza boxes.  Swap candy cane Kisses for random candy wrappers (ok, it’s not thaaaat bad, despite what my husband thinks).

One of my new favorite cookie recipes I discovered and made this year is an almond & fruit jam shortbread thumbprint cookie with an almond glaze.  The recipe called for seedless raspberry jam, but I used a tart cherry jam in one batch, and a blueberry rhubarb jam in another, and both came out yummy, especially with the contrast between the sweet glaze and the subtle sweetness of the two jams.

Here’s what the cookies looked like:

…and here’s the recipe 🙂 (adapted from Allrecipes):

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 2/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C jam (raspberry, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb, apricot, whatever flavor suits you)

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp milk

Put it together:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then mix in the almond extract (1 tsp).  Mix in flour until incorporated, without over-mixing.
  4. Roll dough into 1.5-inch balls, and place them an inch apart on the cookie sheets.  Using the back of a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon or the cap of a tube of chapstick, make an indentation in the middle of the cookies to create a well.  Spoon in some jam.  Once your cookie sheet is ready to go into the oven, stick them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes while you work on your second cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes (start checking around the 13 minute mark), until the tops of the cookies are slightly golden.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make the glaze by combining the confectioners’ sugar, almond extract (1 tsp), and milk until smooth.
  7. Transfer cookies onto cooling racks with wax paper underneath, and drizzle the glaze over warm cookies.
  8. Enjoy!
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