Alright, I admit: I have a problem. Looking at a pantry full of preserving jars, jams, compotes, jellies and all that jazz, now that the fruity seasons in our region have come to an end, makes my problem painfully obvious. I’m a fruit hoarder! Right about now, I’m under the impression that we’ll never be able to munch our way through that wall of jars until next spring, but a more rational part of me is very well aware of the fact that there probably won’t be anything left by lets say… February.
The last jar of last year’s sticky-stone-fruit bash took its final bow while Hubby and I were on our winter-getaway on Sylt at the beginning of March this year. As always, I shamelessly abused the oven in our little apartment for at least 3 different items each day of our stay and, as always, Hubby was happy to help me whenever there was a cookie recipe involved~ So, while I was prepping the endless shopping lists and the kitchen-suitcase, I made extra sure we had what we needed for a serious cookie showdown in there as well. When the time came to pick a specific type of cookie I knew I could count on Hubby to say “All of them!” if I gave him my cookie recipe collection to choose from, so I went with Door #2, the Tyrian Chef’s Guild’s Menu. These yummies caught my eye immediately…
…and in two milliseconds flat, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Since I always eat peaches before they come even close to a preserving jar, I had to swap them out for apricots and as for the style of cookie… well. Rather than going with the Thumbprint-Style the Guild intended this to be made in (like I did with the Blueberry Thumbprint Cookies), I decided to literally twist one of my grandma’s recipes to make it work for me – you know, the kind of recipe that nets you something of the I-know-this-could-be-great variety you fight to force down with a straight face to keep your grandma happy (and other cookies coming your way). For some reason, neither hers nor any professionally made cookies with the jam on the outside have ever made a lasting impression on my tastebuds. Well, really thick thumbprint-cookies do the trick, so I guess it’s because of the sticky gooeyness of the (thinner) jam layer on top? Anyways, for whatever reason, I’m not a fan. But I’ve always known that, with the right recipe and the right jam, the concept could lead to a delicious batch of cookies! So, on a day stormy and rainy enough to justify staying in, I gathered enough supplies for a couple of test runs and the last remains of last Autumns stone-fruit extravaganza and went to work. One oops-, one wobbly- and one perfect tray (that was immediately pounced on and killed by a cookie(-crazed Hubby)monster, so I had to make a fourth) later, I had the recipe for the cookies I was looking for all along nailed down – and here it is, starting with my Apricot-Vanilla & White Chocolate Jam.
The Apricot & White Chocolate Chunk Jam
The amounts listed in this recipe will net you about 3-4 200ml jars of jam, depending on how chunky you like your jam. You’ll only need 100-125g of it for the cookies, so take some time to properly sterilize your equipment before you get started to keep the rest well preserved.
Just on a side-note… of course you could use store-bought apricot or peach jam, but what would be the fun in that if you can get your hands on fresh apricots~?
500g Fresh Apricots, pitted and quartered – you’ll have to start with 750-800g whole fruit to get there
2 Oranges – you’ll need 100ml of fresh Orange Juice and 1 Pinch of Zest
1 Splash of Lemon Juice
1 Vanilla Pod, Seeds and Empty Pod separately
300g Gelling Sugar or the Fruit Sugar Equivalent – check the baking section of your supermarket, most of them should have one of those for Fruit Jellies and one for Fruit Jams. Pick the one for Jams this time.
40g White Chocolate, both a bar chopped into small chunks and white-chocolate nips work perfectly fine.
1 Tbsp Apricot Liqueur or, probably more readily available, Liquor 43
1 Pinch of Salt
1) Place the sugar, vanilla seeds, juice, zest and salt in a bowl large enough to comfortably accommodate the fruit.
2) Whisk the lot until the sugar has dissolved and the black vanilla dots are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
3) Add the fruit and gently fold them into the mixture until everything is shiny and vanilla-polka-dotted.
4) Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place it in your fridge for at least 2-3 hours or better: over night.
5) When you and your fruit ar ready, transfer the apricot mixture into a large pot set onto high heat.
6) As the mixture is heating up, pick up your stick blender and whizz through the contents of your pot as thoroughly as you feel is necessary with your desired outcome in mind. Personally, I like my jams to be chunky, more like a thick compote, so I only work the rounds 1-2 times – maybe 3 if the fruit are on the unripe side of things. If they’re really ripe and juicy, they basically fall apart on their own. If you want a silky-smooth texture or even ant to strain out every hint of apricot skin, cook the fruit first and purée the lot with a food processor or blender instead.
7) Either way, pop in the vanilla pod once you’re done with the blender and allow the mixture to work up a rapid bubble, then pick up a wooden spoon and, while stirring constantly, keep the jam there for 5-6 mins
8) Five minutes into the fray, stir in the hooch, that way the alcoholic bite has enough time to poof out without taking its flavor with it.
9) Now you’ve got 2 options:
Opt 1: Allow the jam to cool off to a point where its not steaming or seriously burning a nosy fingertip anymore, then fold in the chocolate nips. This way they’ll soften a bit but keep their basic structure, adding a bit of a bite to the finished jam.
Opt 2: Stir in the chocolate right away and keep stirring until it melts into the jam. This works especially well if you’ve gone down the silky-smooth road. As it cools down, it won’t set – instead it will add a creamy fudgeyness to the end result you will never find in any other type of jam.
10) Once you’re done with the chocolate, transfer the jam into sterilized jars and seal the lids.
The Cookie Dough
250g Butter, at room temperature
150g Fine Baking Sugar
6g Baking Powder
2 Eggs (Size M)
500g Plain Wheat Flour (Type 405 works nicely)
1) Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
2) Press a well into the middle and crack in the eggs.
3) Cover them with a bit of flour from the sides of your floury volcano, then flake the butter around the rims of the caldera.
4) Use a fork to first break up the eggs and gently cover them up with more flour.
5) Stir through the mixture, gathering more and more flour and the occasional knob of butter until the fork just doesn’t do it any more.
6) Using your hands, knead the dough until its smooth and even.
7) Roll it up into a log and wrap it in clingfilm before placing it on your fridge for 30 mins to relax and set.
8) Time to prep the filling~!
The Apricot & Marzipan Filling
100g Dried Apricots, finely chopped
130g Raw Marzipan – if you have a favourite, stick to it, if not: check the baking section of your supermarket and go for the one with the highest almond:lowest sugar ratio. Or have a go at making a batch yourself~!
110g Apricot Jam
65g Icing Sugar
1) Add the dried apricots to a small pot sitting on medium heat and douse them with the Amaretto.
2) Allow the mix to work up a gentle simmer and keep it there for about 3-4 mins until the dried fruit have soaked up the now-defused hooch.
3) Set the pot aside and give it a couple of minutes to cool off to room temperature.
4) In the meantime, dice the marzipan and add the cubes to a mixing bowl
5) Dust the pile with the icing sugar and add the jam.
6) Once the dried apricots have cooled down, add them to the mix as well, along with every last drop of sticky juice clinging to the pot.
7) Stir this mixture with the help of a fork, whisk or electric beaters until it’s well combined and smooth apart from the occasional bit of apricot.
8) The resulting mixture should be thick but still spreadable without having to apply a lot of force to smooth it out, so if it’s a bit on the firm’ish or even crumbly side of things, work some more jam into the mix until you reach that stage. Just make sure it doesn’t turn too runny in the end – more marzipan, sugar and dried apricots in parts according to their starting values would be the rather inconvenient remedy for that particular mishap.
Assembling the Cookies
1) Retrive your dough-log from the fridge, unwrap it and slice it into two equally sized pieces.
2) Cover your work surface with two sheets of baking parchment.
3) Dust the parchment with a thin layer of flour and, after threateningly waving the rolling pin at whoever is sneaking up to the bowl holding your filling, roll both pieces of dough into 3-4mm thin rectangles, each on their own sheet of parchment.
4) To make things easier later, make sure the long side of the rectangles are turned towards you in the end.
5) Divide the filling on top of the sheets and gently spread it out over the dough as evenly as possible, just leaving a rim of about ½ cm along the edges of the dough.
6) Slide your thumbs beneath the long side of the baking parchment holding your apricot-covered sheets of dough.
7) Firmly yet gently – as not to squeeze the filling out on the other side – roll the sheets up into logs. Go slowly, using the parchment for leverage, and make sure you roll the dough up neatly and evenly to avoid trapping air pockets – those will make the cookies fall apart later – and, on the other side, to avoid pushing the filling back and out of the roll altogether.
8) Once the logs are neatly rolled up, wrap them up in their sheet of baking parchment and pop them into the freezer for 1 hour to make slicing them into proto-cookie disks possible.
9) Preheat your oven to 200°C.
10) Line 2 baking trays with parchment and retrieve the cookie logs from the freezer.
11) Slice the logs into ½ cm thin disks and set them onto the trays with 2-3cm space in between – they don’t spread out much in the heat, but sometimes a bit of the filling can ooze out sticky’ing up everything it touches.
12) Bake the cookies for 15-20 mins until deliciously golden and mouthwateringly fragrant~
13) Allow them to cool on a cooling rack, then transfer the ones you’re not hoovering up right away into a cookie box – make sure to separate the layers with sheets of parchment to keep the cookies from sticking to eachother.