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I’ve previously posted a ‘Classic Butter Cookie’ recipe on this site before and I’ll let you know right now that this ‘Versatile Butter Cookies (Jam Sandwiches)’ is quite different from that recipe in terms of method and ingredients. I have adapted this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated’s ‘Baking Illustrated’ Book. Many thanks for Cook’s Illustrated for featuring my photo of Jam Sandwich cookies on Instagram which they loved so much!
I like this recipe because it is meant to produce a versatile cookie that might pair with sweeter fillings/glazings and therefore the cookie itself is not as sweet. This is, if you recall from my other posts, perfect for me because too much refined sugar causes my TMJ issue to act up which does not make for a happy Frances. The texture of this cookie (as a standalone and not as a jam sandwich) is tender (not chewy) and compact with a fine even crumb and slight crisp.
I’m going to nerd out a bit here: I found the Cook’s Illustrated butter cookie version particularly interesting because instead of creaming the butter first and adding the dry ingredients afterwards (which is the usual method of making cookies), the butter is added to the dry ingredients (reversed).
Cook’s Illustrated reasons that because the butter cookie is meant to be a flat rather than fluffy and creaming butter produces a fluffy cookie and creates pockets of air. To be honest, I’m not completely sure about how effective this reasoning is, because I am still getting pockets of air in some my cookies, using their exact method (which, by the way, is not the method I have posted in my version of the recipe). Maybe I’m not mixing thoroughly, or I should be baking on a silicone baking sheet instead of baking parchment—if anyone knows, please tell me!
Despite this, I really don’t mind the texture and it suits my purposes—purpose being, slapping jam on them and eating them right away.
I’ve tried this recipe a good 3 times now and I quite like the results, as long as the dough is not overworked and given time to rest after mixing. Be aware that the more you work the dough, the more gluten bonds form which results in a stiff/tough cookie (not what we want). Chilling the dough is also important because it limits cookie spreading, concentrates the flavour of the cookie and allows for any gluten bonds to relax.
In my version of the recipe, I suggest that you roll out the dough before you pop it into the fridge to rest; it is more difficult to do this once it is cold. If you don’t have superfine sugar on hand, you can create some by pulsing it in the processor a few times, or if you’re lazy like me, just use regular granulated sugar (produces a cookie with larger crumb and a flakier texture).
I encourage you to let your creativity run wild, and explore the different ways to use this versatile butter cookie beyond the ol’ Jam Sandwich. If you roll it out slightly thicker, you could also build a butter cookie house with it! Show me your lovely creations by tagging @francesmenu on instagram, facebook, or twitter!
Versatile Butter Cookies (Jam Sandwiches)
YIELD: approx. 38 large cookies (depends on size of cookie cutter)
ACTIVE TIME: 25
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 1.5 – 2 hrs
CREDITS: Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s ‘Baking Illustrated‘
- 355 g all-purpose flour
- 156 g superfine sugar
- 0.25 tspn coarse salt
- 227 g (1 cup) unsalted butter soft, but still slightly cold (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
- 2 tspn vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1.25 cups of your favourite jam, reduced to 1 cup and cooled to room temperature
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. On low speed, mix flour, sugar, salt until combined using a mixer. Add the butter 1 piece at a time, continuing to mix until it begins to look crumbly and slightly wet. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on high speed for about 10 seconds, and back to low speed until slightly larger clumps are formed. It is very important that you mix until just incorporated and no more; mixing more than you need to will cause a cookie to turn out tough.
Using your hands, gather the crumbly bits of dough and form one large dough ball (this may take several tries due to the crumbliness). Divide dough into quarters and flatten into disks. Sandwich one disk between two pieces of wax/parchment paper. Roll it out to 1/8″ (3mm) thick, and let it rest it on a flat surface (e.g. cutting board) in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins (preferably over 1 hour). Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
Remove the rolled out dough from the freezer and go crazy with your cookie cutters. Bake in middle rack for 5-7 minutes, rotating the pan 90 degrees every quarter of the bake time to ensure even baking. Supervise closely, it is better that they are undercooked than over cooked. If the edges of cookies turn into a golden hue, you’ve gone too far, although they are still edible, they will a be tougher texture.
- To make Jam Sandwiches, let the cookies cool completely before spreading your reduced jam on the bottom side of the cookie sandwich. Fit the two sides together and enjoy immediately.
- I have not tested the ways to prevent soggy cookies, but here is what I’ve learnt through internet research:
Ways to maintain crispy cookies:
1. Reduce the jam in a saucepan on low heat and cool before spreading onto the cookies.
2. Do NOT store the cookies in air tight containers like you would do with chewy chocolate chip cookies. This will make them soggy. Keep on them on a plate at room temperature with loose covering.
- Things to avoid while making this cookie:
– Butter that is melted, which will cause the cookies to spread during baking. Or butter that is too cold (too stiff), which will be difficult to incorporate into the dough.
– Over baking, 5 minutes is a good guideline to bake your cookie, but only supervision will lead you to success.
– Over mixing the dough, and not letting it rest, which will result in a hard cookie due to the forming of a lot of gluten bonds, that aren’t given time to relax.
- Chilling cookie dough allows it to harden so it is easier to handle
- Baking chilled dough will deter the cookie from spreading too thin and becoming intimate with the neighbouring cookies.
- Giving the dough time to rest in the fridge will relax any gluten bonds formed during the mixing, which causes toughness. Tough cookies are a no no!
Behind the Scenes
Using a 5′ umbrella to the back left of the staging area and white foam core board as reflector to fill in the shadows a bit as I didn’t want the lighting to be too dramatic/contrasted in the photo. Finally, I setup wifi tethering to my tablet so I can control the shot and see the images right away. This is especially helpful when when I have the camera at an angle that I cannot reach and I need to have both my hands in the photo. What I do is tap the shutter on the tablet, get my hands in the position as the timer counts down.
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