So. It's cookie season. Cookies have a season! Even though it’s been bone-chillingly cold, increased cookie consumption and stretchy pants are the accepted norm for December. So I may have to bundle up, but can have my coat pockets stuffed with cookies and less judgement upon me for it, and that makes this season okay in my book.
These are one of my all time favorite cookies to eat, make, and share. Ina Garten introduced me to the added bonus of coconut on a jam thumbprint close to 10 years ago now when I stumbled across her recipe for the first time, and I have never looked back. Oddly addicting, people usually accept one to start, but go back for two or three or four. They go quick. The batch makes roughly 30 cookies, and it seems like a lot of cookies to begin with, but at the rate they are consumed when shared you start to think maybe it won’t be enough. They aren’t overly sweet and require only a handful of ingredients that most likely you already have in the home.
Does anyone else have three to four jars of jam in their fridge at any given time that all manage to have less than a quarter of the jar remaining? I'm a bit of a condiment hoarder. Well, this recipe is a fantastic way to use up those random remnants of fruit preserves. For these, I used both apricot and cherry. But I’ve made them in the past with marmalade, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry— it’s all good. Just pick your favorite.
Then the jam is nestled in a delightfully buttery shortbread cookie that is faintly sweet, but not overly so, and rolled in an egg wash to then coat with a layer of shredded coconut. The coconut bronzes and crisps up while these bake and adds both a sweetness they require and textural appeal that really makes them rise above the average thumbprint cookie. The jam melts into the indentations under the heat of baking, then firms up into a more solid, chewy texture after. So simple, but so so good.
Just a little note to vegans and egg-allergy friends: This one is easily adaptable! You could easily make the shortbread vegan by using earth balance baking sticks in place of butter here, and instead of the egg wash, use a mixture of water with a bit of cornstarch or egg replacer powder to make the coconut stick to the outside of the cookie.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
7 oz bag sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1 egg + 1 Tbs water for egg wash
1/2 cup preferred jam or preserves
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Cream together the butter and sugar (by hand or in a mixer), and then add the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar slowly (with the mixer on low speed if using one). Mix until the dough starts to come together. It will be a little dry and possibly even crumbly. Dump out onto a floured surface and roll together into a circle, then flatten it to form a disk shape. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for 30-40 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once chilled, roll the dough into as close as you can get to 1.5 inch balls. It doesn’t have to be exact science but you want them hopefully similar in size and shape.
Get your dipping station ready. Whisk the egg with the water in a small dish or bowl, and on a small plate, dump out half the coconut. Place the balls first in the egg wash, then roll in the coconut until most of the cookie ball is coated with shreds.
Note: If you are anything like me, you will find that soon into the process, your fingers get messy, the egg wash gets coconuty and the coconut gets eggy. About halfway through dipping the cookies, I pause to wash up, replace my egg wash with a new one, as well as add the remaining half of the coconut to the plate so there are some dry coconut shreds again to stick to the cookie.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart from one another and press an indentation into the top of each with your finger. The dough balls have the tendency to split, so I sometimes push the dough back together where possible. (Where you have a major crack from the center line down, the jam will run out of the center during baking and create sort of a jammy eruption situation. This really isn’t a terrible thing. They aren’t as pretty to serve but sure are my favorite to eat).
Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve at room temperature.
This recipe makes close to 30 cookies, so if you don’t want that many around, it can easily be halved.
Adapted, barely from this recipe by Ina Garten