11 Dec Gingerbread Thumbprints with Homemade Cranberry-Orange Jam
*Sure signs that Christmas is near:*
My tacky Christmas sweater has been taken down from its perch on the top shelf of my closet, and I’ll be wearing it proudly this evening at my company Holiday party, with a pair of reindeer antlers to compliment, of course. (It’s a not-so-subtle nod to Noah’s Ark, complete with a pair of jolly dolphins leaping across the back.)
My annual glittery red manicure is sparkling brightly with holiday cheer, as I type this in the twinkle-lit ambiance of my living room.
I can’t walk around my condo without tiny red & green nonpereils and golden sugar sprinkles crunching underfoot, because I’ve been a cookie-baking, broom-neglecting madwoman for the last two weeks.
I’m bursting with merriment all day, every day because even at my office we’re listening to Christmas tunes on repeat…even if it is “Lounge Christmas” instead of Mariah.
My plastic tree is in “full bloom” (<– is that what you call it? I’m not up on the lingo because I’ve never had a real Christmas tree. *gasp*) thanks to a variety of evergreen and balsam smelly candles that I’ve strategically placed around the condo for optimum Christmas smelliness.
Even amidst this explosion of good tiding, a sense of panic is starting creep in because omg, I still haven’t bought any gifts.
Which brings me to my current predicament. What in the hell do you buy your boyfriend’s dad for Christmas? I don’t even know what to buy my own father for Christmas, let alone Steve’s. He’s a wine guy, but what do you buy for the wine guy who already has all the wine things? Not more wine?! Argh! (Any and all of your suggestions are welcome.)
If I could stop baking cookies for like, two seconds, I might take advantage of the brilliant lists on lists of gift ideas that the blogosphere produces this time of year. But let’s be honest, with my aggressive list of holiday “to-makes” that’s not happening. So, my poor male coworkers will just have to put up with me staring desperately at them from across our shared desks, prodding them for advice on “what dudes like”. It doesn’t hurt that I bribe their attention with cookies, which are unsurprisingly highly effective little tools for relationship building. I mean, nobody doesn’t like a girl who comes to work bearing Christmas cookies.
On today’s menu are these Gingerbread Thumbprints with Homemade Cranberry-Orange Jam. It’s a sophisticated little cookie, with a traditional yet never-boring gingerbread base, filled with a homemade cranberry jam that’s infused with orange zest and spiked with spiced rum for an added layer of holiday merriment.
Don’t let the words “homemade jam” intimidate you. It’s as simple as throwing whole cranberries, sugar and water on the stove and simmering until thick. No special techniques or ingredients required. In fact, if you can stick the end of a wooden spoon into a hot ball of dough, you can make these cookies. They do require a little bit of time to chill, so the dough is best made either the night before or on a slow day — perhaps even a snow day, spent hunkering down at home to avoid the bitter cold, with a crackling fire and cozy mugs of hot chocolate. Or at least that’s how I imagine it, as a southern, short-sleeves-in-December wearing Christmas addict.
A Few Notes About This Recipe:
I highly recommend that you not skip the step that requires you to roll the balls of gingerbread dough in granulated sugar. I made about half of this batch without the granulated sugar thinking I would dust them with powdered sugar after baking, but they didn’t have nearly enough crunch or texture.
These cookies will store in an airtight container for 1 1/2 – 2 weeks, but they will soften as they sit. If you’re a lover of crunchy edges like I am, you can throw the cookies back in the oven at 350F for 5-7 minutes before serving and they’ll crisp right back up.
Cranberry-Orange Jam adapted from Martha Stewart
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/4 cup of sugar (for rolling)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons orange zest, plus more for garnish
- 3 tablespoons spiced rum
- To make the cookies, combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together until well combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 1 - 2 minutes, until slightly fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and blend until just combined.
- Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, up to overnight. While your dough it chilling, make the cranberry jam.
- To make the jam, combine the cranberries, brown sugar, water and orange zest in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer. Ad the rum and continue to cook, stirring occasionally and using a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to gently mash the cranberries. Simmer mixture for 10-15 minutes, until water is dissolved and the consistency is thick and jam-like, then remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Once the cookie dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F and roll the dough into 1-inch balls (make sure not to make them to large, I used a 1 1/2 tsp cookie scoop to measure) roll them in sugar, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I found that the cookies hold their shape best if you place the rolls back into the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking, but you can skip this step if you're in a rush. Bake the cookies for about 10 - 12 minutes, checking them at around 8 minutes, or until the edges are set and golden and the cookies begin to crack slightly.
- Remove cookies from the oven and immediately use the stick of a wooden spoon or the back of a measuring spoon to make "thumbprints" in the cookies. Cool for about 5 minutes on the cookies sheet then transfer to a wire rack to finish.
- Once cool, spoon a small amount of cranberry jam into the thumbprint of each cookie and garnish with orange zest.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, though they're best eaten within the first week.