I’ve rekindled an old love… with a cookie from my past. Back when I was in college, I used to take study breaks and raid the snack machine for these little Pepperidge Farm Shortbread cookies with the Raspberry goop in the middle. Oh man, those were my jam back in the day (I was just taught how to use the slang word ‘jam’ by a 4 year old, and it fits perfectly here. He would be proud of me.) These raspberry thumbprint shortbread cookies and I had a special relationship. I would rescue them from the dark cold vending machine and they would provide me with a little pick me up to keep me going through the night. I must say, I was so excited to rekindle this relationship again. Raspberry cookie, it’s been awhile…
So what exactly are raspberry thumbprint shortbread cookies? Well, they are shortbread cookies and before you bake them, you simply press your thumb into the center and then fill the middle with whatever delightful loveliness you want. To make these cookies right (or any dessert for that matter), my hubby and I have figured out that ingredients and care really do matter. Nothing against oil spread type butters and margarine, but if you want your cookies, pie crusts, and pastries to turn out right, you need good old fashioned BUTTER. And not just any butter will do, you need European butter. Yes, I am a butter snob. I am not scared to admit it. I do this because I love you and I want you to have success with your desserts. Trust me on this, go European. What is the real reason behind why European butter is better for baking? It is considered cultured (not because it’s European ;-), rather it is made more slowly than store bought butter so the cream has had longer to develop. The fat content is also higher, usually around 83-86% while non-cultured butter is around 81%. Butter with less fat contains more water, and I’m gonna go all scientific with you now… water is a bonding agent when you mix it with gluten (flour), so yes, it will bind all the lovely layers of dough together making it a tougher pastry. Some people say you don’t have to use European butter if you are making cookies or brownies, but I say why not. European butter actually tastes better, and I don’t know about you but if I’m making cookies and brownies, I’m making them right! Our favorite butter for any baking is Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter. We get it at Trader Joe’s but I’ve also seen it in mainstream stores. We get the salted version which is in the gold packaging. They have an unsalted version in silver as well.
So how do you end up with a buttery cookie that cooks perfectly and ends up light and crisp? The way you mix the ingredients and for how long matters as well. With this particular recipe, you’ll want to add in the last cup or so of flour and fold it in. And keeping the butter cold is important. For this reason, you don’t want to over mix the dough. Once you make the dough, you can form the little 1″ balls and set them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, press each one with your thumb, drop some jam into each indentation and then refrigerate while your oven heats up. This ensures that your raspberry thumbprint shortbread cookies will hold their shape while they bake.
These cookies smell amazing while they bake. It’s a little hard to tell when they are done, so just as a side note, set your timer on the low end, take them out briefly to touch the side of one. You’ll see that the dough is still a little gooey. Let them bake for 2 more minutes and check again. They should be almost firm but move just a bit. When you take them out, you’ll let them cool right on the baking sheet so they will continue to cook and firm up. Any type of jam or preserves works well on these cookies. I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s Raspberry jam. I could put that stuff on anything! It’s soooo tasty!
Here’s the recipe:
Raspberry Thumbprint Shortbread Cookies Recipe
2 cups + 3 Tbsp of All Purpose Flour (We use the Trader Joe’s brand)
1/4 tsp Salt (if using salted butter, you may not need the salt. We like salted butter plus salt for flavor.)
1 cup Kerrygold Irish Butter (or any European style butter), salted or unsalted, cold and diced into chunks
2/3 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1/2 cup Raspberry Jam (We use the Trader Joe’s Raspberry Jam)
Heat oven to 350 degrees (when you refrigerate cookies, see below)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate bowl, blend butter and sugar with a mixer until just combined. The butter should soften quite a bit. Add the almond extract and blend for a few seconds. Add the flour a little at a time. The dough should start to come together. Leave the last cup of flour to add in and fold into the dough.
Shape dough into 1″ balls and place about 2″ apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Indent each cookie with your thumb. (The cookie dough may break along the edges a bit when you do this, and that is totally normal for this type of cookie.) Fill each indent with 1/2 tsp or so of jam. I just took a spoon and dipped into the jar and just covered the tip of the spoon, then laid the jam in by scraping it off the end of the spoon. Chill the cookies in the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking. Pre-heat oven.
Bake for about 14-18 minutes (checking the cookies at 14 minutes by barely pressing your finger on the side of a cookie. They may be a little gooey still. Let the cookies bake for 2 more minutes at a time until they are more firm. The dough will still be a little soft to the touch.) These cookies just barely turn color, and it’s very hard to tell, so check by touching. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few more minutes (they will continue to firm up on the pan).
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