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The whole time that I was baking these Jam Thumbprints from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book I wished that I had a little helper to assist in the process—and when I say little helper I mean a little kid to share in the baking fun. These cookies are a great family project, very hands on, and perfect for aspiring young bakers.

If you have your little ones at home this week for Christmas break and are out of entertaining ideas, gather everyone in the kitchen and bake up a batch of these thumbprints. Once the dough is assembled your little assistants can roll out the balls, place them on the baking sheets, and press their tiny thumbs into the balls to make wells for the jam. After the cookies are parbaked, the jam filling is spooned into plastic baggies to make impromptu (and relatively mess free) pastry bags for filling the cookies, another wonderful task for kids. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, you and your kids can enjoy the satisfaction of a job that is not only well done but a wonderful group effort.

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Jam Thumbprints

About This Recipe

Yield:about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) sugar
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Procedures

  1. 1

    Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a small zipper-lock bag with the jam. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

  2. 2

    In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer to medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat the cream cheese, egg, and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

  3. 3

    Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.

  4. 4

    Working with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Make an indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb.

  5. 5

    Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they are just beginning to set and are lightly browned around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and, working quickly, gently reshape the indentation with the bottom of a teaspoon measure. Snip a small corner off the bag of jam and carefully fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of the jam. Rotate the baking sheet and continue to bake until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes.

  6. 6

    Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes, before serving.

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