Sunday, December 30, 2007

Homemade Gifts

For Christmas this year we decided to do mostly homemade gifts for family and friends. My college roommate L and her boyfriend D came over for a visit and they helped us tremendously. We couldn't have done it without you guys!!

This year marked the return of the Jam Thumbprint Cookies that were so popular a few years ago:

A shortbread dough is rolled into tiny balls, dipped in egg and then in coconut. The balls are pressed flat with your thumb to make an indentation perfect for holding a dab of jam or preserves. We made ours using all homemade jams/preserves we've received over the years - blueberry, concord grape, raspberry and apricot.

We also experimented with peppermint bark:

The recipe was simple - melt chocolate and spread onto a baking sheet. Pop into the fridge to cool while you melt white chocolate and mix it with crushed candy canes. You can also add peppermint extract, but we couldn't find it in the store. Spread the white chocolate over the regular chocolate and allow to cool for a few hours in the fridge. Break into pieces.

But the real excitement was the BBQ sauce SP made:

We got the recipe from a grilling/smoking cookbook and added a few additional spices. It's tangy and just slightly spicy, with a really good kick from the vinegar. He made a few huge batches and then we canned them in jars (like my mom and I do for the tomatoes) so people could enjoy it over the summer if they wanted to wait that long.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Ina Garten

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry, apricot or any jam you like

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Makes approximately 32 cookies.
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