My mother’s mother, lovingly known as Nana, was a fabulous cook, and she was especially skilled at baked goods. She made the perfect pie crust. At Christmas time, she and my grandfather, Pockey (that name is a whole other story!), hosted a cousin’s party at their home until the group became so big that we moved it to our house. By the time my twin brother and I came along there were already more than 20 cousins with a few more added down the road. We were a pretty close bunch and enjoyed spending holidays together.
The fun memory of Nana and Pockey’s Christmas cousin party was the gift exchange. The tradition held that who ever gave you a gift, you had to give them a kiss in return. Uh-Oh! This was a big problem as I was one of the youngest and probably one of the most uncomfortable with this tradition. It seemed like the older cousins really enjoyed the game, and as much as I loved my cousins, this just seemed such cruel and unusual punishment for me. Over time I got used to it and found a way to give a peck on the cheek or something safe like that. We still laugh about it to this day.
The best part of the party was the treat table, loaded with the most beautiful displays of cookies, fudge, shortbread, peanut brittle, dipped chocolates, brownies and caramels. Nana’s jam thumbprint cookies were my favorite, hands down. Rolled in walnuts around a buttery flaky cookie with just a small drop of raspberry jam, these cookies were pure perfection for me. I only ever ate them at this party, but my memory is so vivid. I haven’t made them in such a long time so as I pulled out the recipe my heart turned to my grandmother and her many attributes, including baking, but most importantly her kind, fun-loving way she cared for us all.
- Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 slightly beaten egg whites
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Stir together flour and salt in a small bowl.
- Place butter in a medium bowl and beat for 30 seconds with an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla; beat well.
- Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating until well combined. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Shape into one-inch balls, roll in egg white, then roll in finely chopped walnuts. Place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down centers with thumb.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 17 minutes or until slightly browned around edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Just before serving, fill centers with jam.