Simple pleasures: Jam Blossoms

Simple things are often the best.

Think of the first yellow crocus that pushes its way up through the soggy mulch covering your garden. In a late-winter landscape of browns and grays, that bright splash of gold is probably the loveliest sight you’ve seen in months.

And your toddler learning to walk: the memory of that first simple step will live in your heart forever.

We often get carried away in the kitchen. And it’s perfectly OK. Satisfying, utterly delicious bread can be simply fashioned from flour and water, salt and yeast. Or the list of ingredients can grow like a tsunami, reaching into every part of your pantry to gather in herbs and cheese, fruits and nuts, sugar and spice, and many, MANY “things nice.”

Ditto cookies. The list of ingredients for Cranberry-Raisin-Oatmeal Cookies is 20 items long, ranging from spiced rum and boiled cider to cranberries, pecans, ginger, oats… And then you have the simplest of shortbreads: flour, sugar, butter, salt (if you like). Vanilla if you’re feeling really frisky.

The following cookies take shortbread one step further: each cookie is topped with a dollop of jam. Yet this simple touch takes plain (albeit delicious) shortbread from everyday to elegant. Use a variety of jams and preserves: golden apricot, deep-dark black raspberry, bright strawberry, orange marmalade. Array the cookies on a pretty plate. WOW. What did I tell you?

Simple is beautiful.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

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Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup room-temperature butter
1/4 teaspoon salt, extra-fine if you have it

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Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Here are my favorites, both from Sonoma Syrup. See the little pink ribbons on the label? Dave, Sonoma’s owner, supports breast cancer research. Thanks, Dave!

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Beat till smooth. This isn’t even close; keep beating.

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Now THAT’S smooth!

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Add 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and beat till smooth again. The dough will be quite stiff, like shortbread dough. Which is basically what this is.

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Scoop out 1” balls of dough; a teaspoon cookie scoop works perfectly here.

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Drop the dough balls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2” between them.

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Using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup (or the pusher of a food processor, as I’m using here), flatten the balls gently, to about 1/4” thick.

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Like this.

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Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, till their edges are just starting to brown.

While they’re baking, find a flat bottle lid or other round, flat object about 1 1/4” in diameter, to press indentations into the baked cookies.

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And select your jam or preserves. I’m using our new preserves here – blackberry, California apricot, and orange marmalade – and boy oh boy, are they ever tasty…

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Remove the cookies from the oven, and working quickly, firmly press straight down into their centers, to make a shallow indentation about 1 1/4” across. I simply upended a bottle of vegetable oil and used the screwed-on cap to make the indentations.

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As I said, you have to work quickly; otherwise, the cookies will crack around the edges as you make the wells. Don’t fuss around trying to make each one perfect; just do it, as Nike would say.

The point of this step is to contain the fruit. If you just spread jam atop each cookie, it might slide off. Creating these small (albeit distinct) boundaries prevents this slippage.

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Dollop 1 level measuring teaspoon of jam or preserves into the center of each cookie, spreading it to the edges of the indentation, if necessary.

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Cross-section of a blackberry preserves-topped cookie. See how the indentation is just deep enough to contain the jam?

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Let the cookies cool completely right on the pan.

Store any leftovers on a plate covered loosely with plastic wrap; or slide the plate into a bag, ballooning it up so the bag doesn’t touch the jam. You can also store these cookies under a cake cover – if there are any left after the first go-around.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Jam Blossoms.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Mike T.

    Interesting, I’m used to making these by putting the jam on BEFORE baking. Of course you have to put a lot less on the cookie as the jam boils and will overflow if you put on too much. It comes out like a baked on glaze. That said, these look great for immediate use, like for a party a little after they come out. Or combine the two ideas, yeah, I just might try that, then the moist jam that is placed on afterwards won’t wet the cookie as the baked on glaze will protect it… Hmmm… Gotta go try that! THANKS PJ!!!

    Reply
  2. Mrs. Hittle

    Frisky!! i love it! :-) These make me think of kolacky. i have some mango-apricot jam that would be great on these.
    It reminded me of Happy Days, when the Cunninghams would get frisky on a weeknight instead of a Saturday, too funny! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Lesley

    Could I make these with Lemon Curd? My DS is anti fruit in just about all applications but he makes an exception for lemon … sometimes.

    They look so beautiful I’d love to try them, but I really shouldn’t eat a whole batch myself. Really, I shouldn’t!

    Thanks
    Absolutely Lesley, lemon curd would be delish! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. dan

    Very timely post. I was just looking through my cabinets last night and realizing I need to step up jam consumption to work my way through everything I made last summer.

    Reply
  5. Liz from Ocean Co. NJ

    PJ – I have a question. Does it make a difference when you make the indentation after they bake rather than before? I’ve made similar cookies where you don’t flatten the dough balls but make an indentation in the top and then bake. I’m wondering how the cookies would compare when made the different ways.

    Love the blog – I get so excited when I see that King Arthur email show up in my Inbox!
    You can try and make the identation before baking but it may puff up and not be deep. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  6. Maria S

    Just like Mom’s Christmas Thumbprints. Hers freeze like a dream – well packaged of course. She even triple wraps some of the concord grape ones and saves some for July 4th – us “kids” just love it – even in our 40′s nothing makes us feel special like Mom’s cookies.
    Don’t forget to LAYER PARCHMENT if you do package these up – flash freezing on trays first for a two-four hours (no more!) helps.

    Reply
  7. Adela

    Why don’t you make the indentation right before putting them in the oven? This would simplify the process greatly.

    Adela – My guess is some of the indentation would be lost in baking process. It may be easier when they are soft warm and pillowy. Try it though and let us know how it went! Elisabeth @ KAF

    Reply
  8. TATIANA SUAREZ

    I find these cookies absolutely divine! I’ll try them one of these days and will top them with my home-made quince jelly…

    Regards,

    Tatiana S.

    Reply
  9. Robin

    My mom used to make a similar cookie, but she left it in a ball and put an indentation in it before baking, which, like Mike T., she filled with jam (or a slightly thicker fruit paste) before baking. These would be interesting to try and compare to my mom’s ….

    Reply
  10. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis - R.J. - BRAZIL

    Yeahhh, these biscuits, buttered biscuits are fantastic. My recipe here is with eggs added, and i press them much thin than yours. My biscuits are one of my customer’s favorites here. The only problem i have with them is that related with packaging!! As they’re so thin, they broken easily inside plastic bags.
    I solved the problem with plastic boxes that hold them much safely.

    But of course they’re AMAZING. Here i make them with almonds, almonds with ( clove, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom ), Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, Pecan Nuts, all of them AMAZING!! I have some others in my chart with whole wheat flour, plus oats, filled with prunes, figs, apricots……i think whole wheat biscuits are must healthy, then i prefer them, here!!

    Reply
  11. dan

    Great timing on this post. I was looking at my cabinet over the weekend and realizing I need to step up consumption of all the jam I made over the summer.
    mmmm, jam on waffles and waffles with jam. Sounds good to me. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. Lish

    I am going to make these the next time we have company to showcase all the jams I put by this past summer. Blueberry/black currant, mango/peach, riesling peach melba, sangria marmalade, ginger marmalade, raspberry, strawberry/cranberry, and citrus/ginger. Woo hoo, that will be a pretty plate!
    Wow, when did you find time to sleep? The citrus ginger sounds great, and the classic raspberry is always dear to my heart. Have a great time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. Devon

    would it work to make the cookies the day before and not put the jam on them until right before you’re ready to serve or do the cookies need to be warm for best effect?

    Devon, that would totally work; the cookies don’t need to be warm. Jam is soft enough that you can spread it out whatever temp. the cookies are… Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  14. Edie May

    I love these cookies. So wonderful with a cup of tea! I am temporarily living in Australia and almond extract is hard to find. Do you think I could add almond meal instead – and how much? I miss my King Arthur flours! :)

    Edie May – I think adding some almond meal would be really nice. Too much will make a crumbly dough so maybe stick with adding 1-2 ounces to start. Elisabeth @ KAF

    Reply
  15. Sharl

    I love reading this blog and boy when I saw these this morning, I was like, YUM!! And this said with a sinus infection and not being able to taste anything. lol (Of course, I do say yum to a lot of other things here, but for some reason this one caused me to want to get on here and say YUM outloud. So, for good measure, YUM!!! And when I am feeling better, I am definetely going to make some of these for the Marines I work with cuz I know they’re gonna love them too.

    Reply
  16. Aaron Frank

    These look great. I like the idea of scooping. I’ve been rolling out sheets of shortbread and then using a biscuit cutter for the cookies. And you have all the pretty colors laid out. It looks great.

    I’ve also made jam and chocolate ganache filled shortcake by putting the jam/ganache on first and then another layer of shortbread on top. They’re a little less messy in my boys’ lunchboxes.

    Reply
  17. Beth

    I was asked to make some lemon curd tartlets; these would be so much easier, and probably would look just as pretty. I wonder if I could get away with it. What do you think, PJ?

    Put some lemon curd on top, and who the heck knows the difference between filled shortbreads and tartlets, right? :) PJH

    Reply
  18. Marianna

    Two of my favorite sweet things are shortbread and fruit jams. This looks to be a match made in heaven! I like the idea of adding the jam to the cookie after it is baked because it will keep the fruit flavor bright. A lovely little reason to put aside your work and sit with a cup of tea. :)

    Reply
  19. Kimberly D

    Wow these look yummy…um can I put my order in for some of that peach mango and ginger marmalade from Lish…lol, I only make blue berry and grape and stawberry and raspberry they sound borring next to all those flavors Lish listed.
    To freeze would they be better froze before baked, after baked with jelly or without jelly?

    Frozen after baked, then topped with jam just before serving would be best, Kimberly. These freeze very well – but add the jam later. Have fun – maybe Lish can go into business! :) PJH

    Reply
  20. Judi Barnett

    Hey! I made these for my five sons at Christmas time, in Christmas colored jams… apricot, mint, and any red jam! Of course there was more than one batch! Thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  21. Jeanna

    I made these and they turned out well. A quick tip, I used a disposable piping bag to pipe the jam on the cookies. It was much faster and cleaner. I didn’t even bother to use a tip, just cut the bag at the tip. You could use a zip top bag and do the same thing.

    Reply
  22. Karina McGill

    Wow! So delicious and delicate. I just started canning last year, so this will be the perfect recipe for all of the jams and jellies that I’ll be putting up. Thanks for posting this.

    Reply

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