08 December, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Cookies, Day 8

This particular tradition wasn't started in our family until I was a young teenager.  I'm not exactly sure where it came from, my guess is my Grandma Carlson.  Either way, every Christmas we get in the kitchen and throw together a batch of these.  Depending on how fast they are inhaled, a second batch may end up being made before the Christmas get together is over.  There are a bunch of variations you could do with this recipe to really make it your own and conform to your own tastes.  I will write it as it was originally conceived and put a couple ideas for switch-a-roos at the end.  I hope you love it!

1/2 c. organic brown cane sugar, firmly packed
1 c. vegan buttery spread
2 eggs, separated OR 1 1/2 tsp egg replacer
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 1/2 c. crushed pecans
fruit preserves or jam of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg yolks or egg replacer, reserving whites for later.  Blend well.  Add vanilla, salt and flour.  *(If you opt for egg replacer simply dip the top of the balls very briefly in plain water, flick it a bit...then dip in the crushed pecans.  This isn't a crisis, it works the same and gives the same effect...the pecans stick and there is a slight sheen to the dough after it bakes.  Badda bing, badda boom.)

With hands or Pampered Chef small scoop make 1 inch size balls out of dough.  Beat egg whites with a fork a couple times then dip the tops of each ball into egg whites.  Dip those tops into the crushed pecans.  Bake for 8 minutes then remove from oven.  

With your thumb or index finger in the well of a ½ tsp. measurer, press the back of measurer into the tops of each cookie.  Then, clean any pecan remnants off the back and use that measuring spoon to put your chosen flavor of jam into each well you just made.  (I used organic raspberry and organic apricot jam in mine.) 

Put pan back in the oven and bake 8-12 minutes OR when the edges of the cookies are golden brown.  Remove to cooling rack for at least 20 minutes.  Best when completely cool. 

Replace vanilla extract with coconut extract, replace crushed pecans with crushed macadamia nuts, use organic pineapple jam in the center.  (Tropical Thumbprints)

Replace vanilla extract with banana extract, replace crushed pecans with crushed peanuts, use organic strawberry jam in the center.  (Banana Split Thumbprints)

Replace crushed pecans with crushed hazelnuts and use chocolate stars or chocolate kisses in the middle.  (Choco-Hazel Thumbprints)

Replace vanilla extract with almond extract, replace crushed pecans with crushed almonds, use organic cherry jam in the center.  (Cherry Almond Thumbprints)

Exclude crushed nuts, replace jam with half a pre-made caramel; when DONE melting and removed from the oven, press a half of a pecan in the middle, drizzle chocolate on top. (Turtle Thumbprint)

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