Friday, December 3, 2010
But I rarely venture into them now, preferring instead to hunt for exactly what I need online, or in the sort of free-standing stores that hold the potential for incredible bargains and unique discoveries. I'm talking about places like TJMaxx, HomeGoods, Tueday Morning, Marshalls, and the odd second-hand shop. Of course, many of these establishments are neatness-challenged and a few of them lack every semblance of organization, so it's advisable to be completely okay with that before you ever set foot in the door.
In prowling for treasures, the potential for causing an avalanche is ever present. Gotta keep an eye out for that Kilimanjaro-like pile of cartoon-print pajama pants to your left, the ones that someone slung hastily atop a leaning tower of bone china dinner plates. Successful navigation through the labyrinth of aisles, each one stuffed to the gills with goods, requires nimble maneuvering and a light touch. But, such drawbacks aside, these joints do cater fairly well to the average gal's yen to forage. And when the hunt yields up something worthwhile, there's that little ping of satisfaction, that feeling of Oh, good! This errand was definitely worth my time. Do you know what I mean?
In one such store a few days ago, I unearthed a nicely discounted jar of Sarabeth's Kitchen raspberry key-lime jam. Tucking it into my floppy shopping pouch, I remembered that this crunchy sandwich cookie recipe, which I planned to try out, recommends using a tart jam to augment the pleasant but humble flavor of the cookie wafers themselves. The recipe suggests using cherry jam, which I like, but given the choice I'm more of a pushover for raspberry. This jam's bright flavor gives it a comfortingly homemade quality, and it's not overly sugary (I realize I keep referring to it as jam, but the label on the jar actually calls it "spreadable fruit").
This cookie recipe, dating back to January 1943, comes to us from the new Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1941-2009. These cookies are very crunchy indeed, so their title is apt. This is the kind of sweet that goes hand in glove with a good cup of hot tea--the perfect cookie for a frosty December day.
I reworded the recipe, adding in more detail, but not altering the time-tested formula.
Scotch Oat Crunchies with Jam Filling
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
Preheat oven to 350 shortly before you're ready to bake. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 and 1/2 cups pastry flour (This is hard for home bakers to find in most grocery stores so, alternately, Gourmet suggests the use of White Lily brand flour--that's what I used. Another alternative you might try is to use a 50/50 mix of All Purpose flour and cake flour--that's a typical substitution for pastry flour. Gourmet also suggests using cake flour alone.)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 and 1/2 oats (I used quick oats.)
1/2 cup cold water
3 drops almond extract and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup jam/preserves of your choice
In a very small container, stir together the water and extracts. Set aside.
In the large bowl of your mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until it's almost white; this may take several minutes. Add in the brown sugar gradually, and continue creaming until completely blended.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then sift this mixture again one more time. Stir in the oats.
With the mixer on its lowest speed, add in the dry ingredients alternately with the water. Mix just until fully combined. Cover the dough and chill it for at least half an hour before attempting to roll it out (or chill it overnight, if you prefer, then let it soften slightly before using).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a well floured work surface, roll a portion of the dough out to a thickness of 1/8" (I rolled my dough a little thicker than this because it was pretty sticky. I didn't skimp on the flour for the work surface.) Use a 2" cookie cutter to cut out rounds or squares, using a thin metal spatula to place them on the parchment lined cookie sheet(s).
Bake the cookies until lightly golden, perhaps 10 to 12 minutes or so. Let them cool before trying to handle them. Fill the cookies with a generous half teaspoon of the jam of your choice, and sandwich two of the wafers together gently. Let the jam set for a while before serving the cookies.
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