Whenever I hear the words “cookie jar” my mind immediately goes to Nana’s Butter Cookies. These were my go-to cookies when I was growing up. For the first 20 years of my life Nana’s Butter Cookies and Budge’s Brownies were the only two things I ever made in a kitchen.
My grandmother Freida Miller always had a batch of Nana’s Butter Cookies in her drop freezer. My sister and I would sneak out to the garage and gingerly peel back the freezer tape, being careful not to cause a tear; lest we be discovered. To be super duper stealth-like, we would take cookies from different rows.
Did we get away with it? Yes and no. The thumbprint cookies always made their way into our mouths but I am confident in hindsight, that my extremely bright grandmother knew exactly what we were doing!
What makes Nana’s Butter Cookies so special? The dough is buttery and light yet easily holds the jam that’s in the middle. For over 50 years the only preserves I used while making these cookies was Smucker’s red raspberry, blueberry (sometimes blackberry if I was feeling frisky) and peach or apricot. It was how Nana made them and I am not one to buck tradition when it works.
That is, until I met Wendy Read at the Food Wine Conference two years ago. Wendy is a fellow Sunday Supper family member and is the owner of Sunchowder’s Emporia. Wendy makes handcrafted fruit jams and chutneys. Wendy brought samples that I tasted and that was all it took to throw tradition out the window.
I quickly realized that Nana’s Butter Cookies are fabulous with all jams; the key is to pick the ones you love. It’s nice to have a combination of colors and with a multitude of choices, you are sure to find the ones you’re craving. Which ones will you choose?
- 2½ cups (12 ounces/340g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup (227g) lightly salted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (5.60 ounces/159g) sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- Red raspberry preserves
- Blueberry preserves
- Peach preserves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down a couple of times.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts and blend well.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Break off pieces of the dough the size of a large marble and roll into balls.
- Place the balls on buttered baking sheets and slightly flatten down to form a small puffy disk.
- Press each cookie with a thimble (I use the back end of a large knitting needle) and fill the hole with preserves using a measuring teaspoon. Do not push the hole all the way through to the bottom of the dough.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until the bottoms are a pale brown.
- Let sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
- Wrap the cookies in an airtight container with wax paper in between the layers. These cookies freeze beautifully.
- Use different kinds of preserves or jams for a colorful plate of cookies. I use Red Raspberry Preserves, Seedless Blackberry Jam, Apricot or Peach Preserves and Blueberry Jam.
- The marble size balls are the equivalent of 1½ teaspoons of dough. The balls may be made smaller or larger, just remember to adjust the baking time accordingly.
If you’d like to watch Betsy make her Nana’s wonderful filled butter cookies, check out the how-to video on her Desserts Required YouTube channel.