These are the cookies of my childhood. The cookies Grandma made. The cookies she always called "Mrs. Goldberg's cookies," (which I find adorably charming now, that she felt we need to use a respectful moniker for the cookbook writer, Molly Goldberg) or "thumbprint cookies," but which are, in the book they come from, called simply "Jelly Cookies."
These are the cookies I've always made, too. They are the cookies I'm known for. They are the cookies my friends used to ask me to make for special occasions. Our old roommate, M, once asked me to make several dozen for a fundraiser at a theater he was managing; he came home that night to tell me that Ben Vereen and John Ritter had both raved about my cookies.
Really, I don't have to go any further now, do I? You're sold, right?
They're also the very first cookies Em and N made, too, since I made it a point to use their tiny little thumbs to make the impressions when I'd bake these when they were babies. (I actually have a shot of Em 'helping' me make these when she was maybe a year old; if I can find it and scan it, I'll add it here.)
I will say, however, that I'm not really sure how these are "Jewish" cookies. But there they are, on page 133 of my copy of The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook. Actually, it's my third copy of this cookbook. Because it gets used so often, and the copies I've always had were so old...they tend to fall apart.
I love that I have cookbooks I use so often they fall apart. Something in my wannabe-happy-homemaker's heart finds that indescribably wonderful.
And with that, I give you:
Mrs. Goldberg's Cookies
[A note: There is, in my opinion, never a reason to make only a small number of these. They're full of butter and sugar, and you can't even try to pretend that you're being virtuous when you eat them. And so, I pretty much always triple the recipe in the cookbook. Thus, I'm giving you, here, the tripled recipe. Feel free to scale back down to the original if you want. But you'll regret it. Don't say I didn't warn you.]
3/4 pound butter
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
3 cups sifted flour (Side note: Does anyone sift anymore? Molly says to sift, but I never do it. Does it make a difference?)
1/4 tsp salt (The original recipe calls for 1/8 tsp, so this isn't tripled. But I tend to only have salted butter on hand, so I probably don't even need to go up to 1/4 tsp.)
3 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp orange extract
One or more of your favorite fruit-flavored jams or jellies (We tend toward the Grandma-traditional apricot, but eschew her choice of grape for something like boysenberry, most times)
1. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper. (I know. We're obsessed here at NTMC with parchment paper for baking. Trust us. It's for a reason.) Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until light. (I do all of this in my Kitchen Maid stand mixer, by the way. But before I had one, I just let the butter get reallllllly soft and did it with a fork. Gave me some muscles, I tell you.)
3. Add egg yolks; beat well.
4. Add flour and salt; mix well.
5. Add vanilla and orange extract; mix well.
6. Shape dough into walnut-sized balls. Using your thumb, make a slight depression in each cookie; fill with jelly. (The book says about a half teaspoon per cookie, but I just eyeball it. As you can see above, that sometimes means they get a little sloppy. I like my cookies sloppy.)
7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until "delicately browned." (God, I love Molly.) As you can see above, I underbaked the batch I photographed. Whoops. They were still awesome. There's something about the orange extract that makes these cookies taste like...well, like childhood. OK. My childhood. But still.
By the way, I just wanted to let you guys know--OK, I wanted to brag to you guys--that I've added the extra vodka and the simple syrup to my limoncello, so that it is now in its second phase, and that on our anniversary (March 17; yes, the two Jews got hitched on St. Patrick's day, and even signed our ketubah in green ink) we will be breaking it out for a first glass. A little early, true, so I'll let the rest sit for a week or two more, but still.
I can't wait. I'll brag more then.