Cookies do not bring Christmas cheer. Lies! Fake news! But these cookies are guaranteed to bring you happiness. It’s a King Arthur Flour (KAF) recipe that was brought to my attention on Twitter by a pastry chef/author Louise Miller. This recipe is easy, delicious and stays fresh for several days. The cookies are tender and delicate. After I baked them, I froze half a batch and they were still wonderful.
The original recipe calls for Fiori di Sicilia, a citrus and vanilla flavoring. It’s out of stock at KAF and I successfully used vanilla extract and orange extract instead. The grated orange zest stands out as well. The orange skins were not thick enough for me to use my box grater, so I changed to a zester with better results. I love jams and jellies. I used raspberry preserves. Next time I will use apricot and blueberry preserves. Specific to (KAF) are thumbprint cookie cutters. They make a beautiful cookie but are not necessary. You can roll the chilled dough into a ball and with a wet finger, make an indentation prior to baking. Simple!
The recipe also calls for extra-virgin olive oil and butter. I don’t usually like baked goods with olive oil. These cookies are the exception. You wouldn’t know it was an ingredient. The cookies are very tender. It seems like a lot of fats in the recipe but it works! Don’t let them dissuade you from trying the recipe. Use good olive oil and butter. It’s important to use quality ingredients when you bake.
Let’s bake some happiness!
2 1/2 cups (300g) KAF unbleached Cake Flour
1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons (76g) extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp orange extract, to taste
2 large egg yolks
jam or preserves
Sift together the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt over a medium bowl. I use a mesh strainer instead of a sifter.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter an olive oil until it is fully combined. It’s very important that the butter be very soft, in order to have the fats mix together thoroughly. Mix in the zest, vanilla, and yolks. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Scrape the bowl and mix briefly once more to be sure no dry flour remains. I do use my stand mixer and use a low speed to add the flour.
If your are going to use cookie cutters, shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a least an hour. The dough can be made up to 2 or 3 days in advance. If you are not using cutters, after chilling the dough, make a ball of about 1 tablespoon of dough and make the indentation. If the dough is too crumbly and difficult to form into a disk, you can add a small splash of milk. Measuring the dry ingredients correctly helps prevent this problem. I prefer to weigh my ingredients.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the over to 325 degrees and place parchment paper on two baking sheets.
If you are using thumbprint cutters, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4″ thick. Dip cutters into flour and cut out shapes. Press the plunger several times to make the indentation and emboss the pattern. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Reroll dough as needed to use remaining dough.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and leave cookies on baking sheets. Fill the indentation with the preserves while to cookies are hot. This will help the jam melt and give it a smooth finish. Cool cookies completely before removing from the pan.
Store cookies at room temperature for several days in an airtight container. If you need to stack the cookies, place parchment paper between the layers. You can freeze these, even with the jelly, for a longer storage period.
You can sift more confectioner’s sugar over the cookies prior to serving. Fancy them up a bit.