Why I Love This Recipe
This is one of the oldies - this recipe's been around longer than I have. But it's stood the test of time. It's a simple sugar cookie with a bright pop of color and flavor right in the middle.
Ingredients You'll Need
• ⅔ cup (5.4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 large egg yolks
• ½ tsp almond flavoring
• ½ tsp salt
• Red currant jelly
• Confectioner’s sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in the egg yolks and almond extract until incorporated. Add in the salt and flour and beat until the dough is just combined and forms a cohesive mass.
3. Pluck off rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough and roll them into 1” balls. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 ½” apart. With your thumb or index finger, press down into the center of the ball, spreading the dough out to make a slightly flattened disc with a well in the center.
4. Bake the cookies for about 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Rotate the pan once halfway through cooking. Once you get them out of the oven, while they’re still hot and pliable, lightly press down the wells of each cookie again to take out a little insurance that the wells set up properly. Slide the parchment with the cookies onto cooling racks and cool. These cookies can made ahead and stored at the stage; just keep them in airtight tins at room temperature for up to a week.
5. Fill the wells of each cookie with jelly – about a teaspoonful, or enough to have a generous dollop. Dust the cookies with confectioner’s sugar, plate and serve.
This is a very simple cookie – think a Hershey’s Kiss cookie, but without the kiss. It almost doesn’t require instructions. And really, if you just threw all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed until combined, it’d probably come out just fine. I use almond extract in this cookie (as I do in many holiday cookies), because I love that slight marzipan flavor it adds. If you’re not a fan, or if you have nut allergies (I can never remember if extracts can cause problems for allergy sufferers, but why take the chance?) feel free to substitute an equal amount of vanilla extract – it’ll just round out the flavors and give it a little depth without turning it into a Vanilla cookie. But don’t leave the extract out – the cookie just won’t have that quintessential “cookie” taste.
There’s no baking powder in these cookies, so they may spread a bit during cooking, but they won’t puff and rise. That said, I’d still recommend that you take out a little insurance and press the wells again once the cookies come out of the oven and are still hot. Depending on how warm the dough was when it went into the oven, the butter in it may melt before the flour has a chance to set up, and the tops of your cookies may even themselves out. Another little finger jab is all you need.
I like currant jelly in this recipe – it’s been traditional in my family, in so far as that’s what my mother always used, and I’ve never questioned it. Mostly because it’s sweet and tart, and its bright red color is Christmastime festive. But lets’ face it, you can use any type of jelly that appeals to you. I recommend that you don’t use jam, marmalade, or any other chunky-style spread. It’s a simple cookie, and I don’t know, but something about the idea of biting into one of these and getting some strawberry seeds in my teeth just doesn’t work for me. If the jelly you’re using seems too stiff, try stirring it in the jar a bit. If it splits apart but doesn’t really loosen up, you might want to scoop some out into a small saucepan and heat it on low briefly. Once it gets loose, pull it from the heat and let it cool slightly until thickened but still pliable, then garnish.