Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Playing Cards

Holiday traditions are different in every family. At my gradmother’s house, it’s Christmas eve that keeps us busy. There is a church service to attend in Lithuanian. By the way, no, I do not speak or understand Lithuanian. There is a big, fish-based meal to prepare and later to eat. There are gifts to open, and family to converse with. There are many deserts to bake and eat. So by the time Christmas day actually rolls around, there’s very little to do. So growing up, my cousin, brother and I would need to find ways to keep ourselves entertained. We often played cards.

These cookies are an ode to our holiday card games which would keep us entertained and out of our parents’ hair for hours on end. We would sit on my grandmother’s orange, wool couch (circa 1958) and play round after round of golf or crazy 8’s or go fish. You could decorate these cookies with whatever cut out shape you prefer. You can even keep it simple and classic by poking a round hole, or no hole at all in the top cookie. Whatever you do, choose a jam that tastes good but isn’t too sweet, or it will overpower the subtle almond taste of the cookie.

Jammy Dodgers (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
2 sticks salted butter, room temp (or use unsalted, and add a pinch of salt)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg yolks (freeze the whites to make frosting when you need it)
1 teaspoon almond extract
Jam (the flavor is up to you!)

1. In small bowl whisk flours and almond meal. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy (with hand or stand mixer on medium)
3. Add the sugar and beat until combined
4. Beat in the yolks and extract
5. Slowly incorporate flour mixture at low speed until no streaks remain.
6. Divide dough in two and using a long roll of plastic wrap, roll into long logs about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. You can do this while never touching the dough. Wrap up the logs with the plastic wrap.

7. Freeze dough for at least 2 hours.
8. Preheat oven to 350F.
9. Cut logs of dough into ¼” to ⅓” slices, and place on parchment lined baking sheet, about ½” apart. (These cookies don’t spread much).

10. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until they set but before they brown.
11. Working quickly, use your small cookie cutter or aspic cutter to punch a hole into the center of every other cookie on the rack immediately when it comes out of the oven. Enjoy the resulting crumbs as a reward for baking for others.


12. Let cookies cool for 10 to 15 minutes on wire racks.
13. Place one teaspoon of jam on each un-punched cookie, spread it around, and layer the punched cookie over it. Press together and watch the jam ooze into the cut opening.


14. Eat while playing games with family and friends.