I buy one or two cookbooks a year. Of course, I spend hours coveting them and poring over the cookbook tables at Elliot Bay. But, in the end, I'm very careful about what I bring home to our 750 square foot house, getting most recipes online or tweaking what I already have. I love what Christopher Kimball says--that most of us absolutely do not need more recipes. We just need to keep practicing what we know and slowly get better and more experimental. Sorry, folks. There's no shortcut.
BUT (you knew this was coming, right?), I just bought a new cookbook that makes me want to storm into the kitchen. It's Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. Almost everything in it can be made in under an hour, and is so bursting with flavor that you'll be wiping the drool off the pages. And wondering, "Why didn't I think of that?"
The annual Christmas baking day with my mom and sister is coming up, so the first thing I tried was these cookies. OMG. They don't look like showstoppers, but watch out. I gave them away to several people, and some reluctantly took one off the plate, like, "Well, I guess. There's no chocolate involved, but I'm bored and slightly hungry." Then their eyes would widen and I could have the self-satisfied moment I was waiting for.
Am I posting about Christmas cookies already? I guess I am. Em sent me this Christmas pledge, which I posted on my bulletin board:
- To remember those who truly need my gifts.
- To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.
- To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.
- To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.
- To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.
Here we go. Bring it on, Season of Light.
Salted Maple Thumbprint Cookies
Melissa doesn't instruct you to chill the dough, but I recommend it. It's quite soft and you might have trouble with the cookies spreading if you don't.
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 c. pure maple syrup
2 large egg yolks
12 oz. walnut halves
Fleur de sel or other coarse salt, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and kosher salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 1/2 c. of the maple syrup and the egg yolks, and beat until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Chill dough for 30-60 minutes.
Using a Tb., drop dough, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each round of dough--as deep as you can go without pushing through. Bake until the edges are just golden, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
While the cookies are cooking, prepare the maple glaze. Place the remaining 1/2 c. maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer the syrup until reduced to abut 1/3 c., 7-10 minutes. Carefully spoon the glaze into the thumbprint of each cooled cookie, then place a walnut and a sprinkle of salt on top. Allow the glaze the set, at least 10 minutes, before serving.