I have never made or eaten a thimble cookie until yesterday. The idea sounded really cute and very holiday appropriate: a shortbread cookie with a little well of jelly on top. A couple take aways: First, if you didn't enjoy playing with play doh or making mud pies as a child, this is not the kind of cookie that you want to make. Second, because of that cute little spot of jelly, these cookies are hard to package. I couldn't even imagine what would happen if I tried to send them through USPS. Third, use parchment paper! I have tons of it, but wasn't thinking about it and these cookies got stuck to the bottom of the cookie sheet.
The recipe that I used was from the Ladies Peach Blossom Antique Car Club in Spartanburg, SC. I've commented before that using these old cookbooks is a scary experience, but yesterday I was so in the zone that I was halfway through the recipe when I realized that there wasn't a temperature listed to bake the cookies. Also, since I've never had a thimble cookie I was unsure as to how the jelly was going to just be fine by dropping it in the center of the cookie.
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
2 cups flour
2 tsp. vanilla
finely ground nuts
Jam or Jelly
Combine butter, sugar and egg yolks. I'm not sure who bought me this little gadget that makes it super easy to divide the egg yolks from the egg whites but I love you! In that moment yesterday when I was considering all the ways separating eggs could go, none of the options looked promising. Using this was a snap, you crack the egg and the whites short of slide out of the slits on the sides leaving a perfectly intact egg yolk! (okay I will get back on message, but I was so excited)
Then add in your flour to your egg, butter and sugar mixture. I was concerned that this recipe didn't call for any baking soda, salt or baking powder, but not concerned enough to start over, so I just rolled with it.
Once the dough was finished, I put a lid on it and stuck it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes while I googled the right temperature for these cookies and let the oven preheat. Then I set out to make "ground nuts". All I had in house was bag of chopped walnuts, so I put about 1/4 cup in a ziploc bag and rolled the bag with my rolling pin to "grind" the nuts. I know I need a food processor. I know. But this worked out just fine. Put the ground nuts in small bowl, next to another small bowl with your lightly beaten egg whites.
After 20 minutes in the refrigerator, the dough was easier to roll. I used my handy dandy oxo scoop to measure even cookies and then you start the process of dipping the dough in the egg whites followed by the nuts (if you are using them). The egg whites allow the nuts to stick, but if you aren't using nuts, the egg whites create a nice shiny cookie once they are baked. Once all of your cookies are on the pan, you're supposed to use a thimble to create a well for the cookies. Since I don't think I have ever owned ( or ever will) a thimble, I used my thumb to make indentions for the jelly. I baked these in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, you fill the wells with the jam or jelly of your choice. I used Smucker's Raspberry Jam.
The finished product! half with walnuts, half without.
The jury is still out on whether this will become a traditional family cookie. Jamie came home and just looked at them. Since they have no chocolate, he wasn't interested at all. No one in either family has ever made them, but I couldn't keep them off the list because they look so festive! Tomorrow's cookie will always be a tradition in our house-- Gingerbread!