Thumbprint Cookies

These are classic cookies distinguished by big jam-filled circles in the middle. They are cute for children, and you can use different types of jam for a variety of colors, but they’re also nice “grown-up” cookies that go really well with tea or coffee. The cookies themselves are dry and crumbly, which sets off the jam very well.

I think these taste best a day or two after baking. A note about the filling: Avoid jelly, as it doesn’t melt enough to fill the center. And orange marmalade is especially delicious — the slight bitterness is wonderful with the sweetness of the cookie.

Makes about 40

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup jam (try to use seedless varieties)

Heat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixture, using the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, then add the flour and mix until just combined.

Put flour on your hands and pinch off pieces of dough, then roll them around with your fingers to make 1-inch balls. Space them 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. With a floured thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball, then fill it with 1/2 tsp. of jam. Be careful not to get jam anywhere except in the center of the cookie.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden around the bottoms. Remove them from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.

Banana Cookies

Baking is by far the best way to use overripe bananas, especially because they mash so well. I always use them to make my tried and true banana bread, but this time I wanted something different, and I thought of banana cookies. I’d never heard of them before, but I was sure that’s what I wanted to make. Then I found a great recipe here. The writer says the recipe came from her grandmother and is more than 70 years old. Here is her recipe, slightly tweaked based on my baking this morning.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 bananas)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup pecans, finely chopped (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives), plus extra whole pecans for topping

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Try to make the dollops as evenly round as possible. Press a pecan piece into the top of each one.

Bake for 11 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.