These little cookies have a lot going for them: a crisp buttery lemon base, tart berry jam topping, and just the right size for snacking.
It's still snowing here in Alberta and I was using the bright citrus and berry flavors to remind me that soon spring will be here, then summer, and then it will be time to can jams and jellies again! I really look forward to canning season. In fact, when I saw a container of strawberries in my fridge that was on its last legs I decided to make it into a small batch of jam just for these cookies
I rarely use a recipe when I'm just making a small batch of jam. I threw in the container of strawberries, a handful of frozen raspberries leftover from the summer and then grated in some lemon zest. To set the jam I chopped up pieces of apple core (which is full of pectin) and then starting simmering the fruit with some sugar on the stove.
I added sugar to taste as the jam was simmering and left it more on the tart side to compliment the sweet cookie base.
Isn't jam pretty? I love the way it looks when you have finished a batch and all the berry-coloured jars are cooling off. So satisfying.
As delicious as homemade jam is, you don't need to make your own for this recipe. You can use any jam that you have in the fridge. Avoid jelly though because it will melt in the oven instead of baking properly.
The cookie base tastes similar to a lemon sugar cookie. You make a crumbly dough flavored with lemon zest and lemon extract that gets pressed and squeezed into four balls. The dough is first chilled in the fridge to make it easier to work with.
Once the dough has chilled you work with one ball at a time and knead it a bit to bring all the ingredients together.
On a parchment lined cookie sheet the each dough ball gets shaped into a long flat strip about an inch wide.
Next an indentation is made by pressing the blunt end of a butter knife along the strip of cookie dough.
The indentation made by the knife probably won't be perfect so you can use your fingers to mold a little wall around the edge that will help keep your yummy jam in place while the cookies bake.
The cookies get baked at 350 for 15-20 minutes until they are slightly golden along the edges. If you have a deeper depression of jam then it will take longer for the cookie to bake.
Once the dough has been shaped the indent gets filled with jam. Don't fill it too full or it will overflow in the oven. It's not the end of the world of that happens (still tastes delicious!) but it looks prettier when the jam stays put.
While the cookies are still warm from the oven they get sliced into diagonal bars and then moved to a cookie rack to cool. It's easiest to slice them while they are still on the tray and then just lift the parchment paper off and put it on a cooling rack. When you try to move them around whole they have a tendency to break.
I also have to warn you that if you start eating these while they are warm is it very very hard to stop.
Actually, even if you start eating them after they have cooled it's hard to stop. Their little size makes it easy to just grab another one and the jam with the lemon is slightly addictive. It's a great cookie for showcasing any homemade jams you might have or for when you just want a taste of spring.
Jam Striped Lemon Cookies
Adapted from The Spice Cook Book
2 cups of sifted all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup of softened butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Jam of your choice for filling
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Stir together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest)
3.Beat in the butter, egg, and extracts until a crumbly dough is formed. Squeeze the dough into four equal sized balls, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
4. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Working with one ball at a time knead the dough and squeeze it into a rope about 13 inches long. Place on the parchment and flatten it into a strip about one inch (or less) wide. Repeat with other balls of dough
5. Using the blunt edge of a butter knife, make a depression down the center of each dough strip. Use your fingers to pinch the edges into a wall to keep the jam in. Don't make the bottom of the depression too thin or it won't be able to support the jam after baking.
6. Fill the channel with the jam of your choice. Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes (mine took 16) until the edges are slightly golden. While the cookie strips are still warm on the tray cut them into diagonal bars then move them to a cooling rack.