December 3, 2007

Lemon-scented Thumbprint Cookies

Cooking for people still terrifies me. When my editor asked me to bring dessert to a small gathering the other night, I was momentarily paralyzed. Should I bring out the old show stopper poached pears? No. She has a favorite recipe of her own, and I probably shouldn't challenge it. Something with chocolate? Maybe. But what? But what.

I only had a few hours, so that killed the [amazing] chocolate ganache tarte [picture]. After a few minutes, I remembered a conversation we'd had a few weeks before about thumbprint cookies. I bought one from the Continental Bakery for a dollar apiece, was rightly annoyed and vowed to make some myself. [Don't get me wrong, I think Continental and Chez Lulu do some great stuff but their prices are highway robbery].

Bingo. Thumbprint cookies. I figured it would be better to totally rock a simple recipe, so I found one from Bon Appetit. The lemon peels and incredibly short procedure helped it stand out from the rest.

Assembly was easy but would have been better if I'd let the butter soften more. Ingredients went everywhere when I creamed the butter and sugar. I filled half of the cookies with peach-raspberry jam, my favorite from Long Island's Briermere Farms, and the rest with Favorit apricot jam. I'm not sure what it was about the apricot jam, but I wasn't crazy about it. I opted for the chewier filling and jammed the cookies before baking.

They were a total hit: buttery, lemony, and as-sweet-as-you-like (depending on your jam). The reactions were almost over-the-top; it took me a few seconds to decide whether the other guests were being sincere. I knew for sure when they'd each eaten about six cookies a piece.