Monday, January 12, 2009

Cookies For Frances

When I was in college my sister talked me into joining a book club (she got free books for suckering me into it). I loved the book club but not because I was kept abreast of the latest must-read bodice rippers or thrillers. What I mainly bought from the club was children's books. I am a total pushover for a good, nostalgic picture book. My roommates thought I was strange, but I didn't care as I assembled my collection of books for my someday kids: Madeleine, The Snowy Day, and Goodnight Moon.

One of my favorite characters in kid books is Frances. I've never been sure what she is. A badger maybe? But I totally relate to her view of the world and love the funny songs she sings. And now that I've actually got children, I see how truthful the books are. Especially Bread and Jam for Frances. Ah, yes, the eating jag where only one food will do, much to the frustration of the parents.

All Francis will eat is bread and jam. Despite the best efforts of her parents to lure her into other food groups, she stalwartly stays with bread and jam. But I know I could have swayed her choice. Who would stick to bread and jam when you could have Vanilla Butter cookies with jam? And not just any jam, but Huckleberry /Raspberry jam.

These delightful cookies are the latest in my effort to bake my way through Cookies from Fine Cooking. My husband selected them and a sweet friend gifted me with the jam for Christmas. I used up almost the whole jar, and it was totally worth it. Tender, buttery cookies with delicious, fruity jam sandwiched in between. Heaven for any jam lover, even without the bread.

Vanilla Butter and Jam Sandwich Cookies
adapted from Cookies by Fine Cooking

6-3/4 oz (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Your favorite jam

1- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 deg. F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder until well blended.

3- In another medium bowl beat the butter on medium-high with a hand-held electric mixer until the butter is smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla bean seeds or extract and continue beating about 2 minutes until the butter and sugar and well combined.

4- Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute longer, until well blended. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended, about 30 seconds.

5- Using a 1 Tbsp cookie scoop, arrange heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough in mounds about 3 inches apart on the cookie sheets. The dough will spread as it bakes. Bake two sheets at a time for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and turning front to back halfway through baking. The edges should be golden brown.

6- Set the sheets on cooling racks and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough on cooled cookie sheets.

7- When the cookies are completely cooled, pair them up according to size. Place approximately 1 tsp of jam in the center of the bottom cookie on the bottom side, spreading it almost to the edges. Top with the matching cookie, bottom sides together.

As the cookies sit, the jam seeps into the cookie, so if they are prepared more than a day in advance, the cookie becomes moister and jammier. Not a bad thing, in my book.


Lisa said...

Frances was always one of my favorites too. Those cookies look wonderful. I just might have to add them to my "to do" list!

VeggieGirl said...

I LOVE that book!! Brings back nostalgia :-)

Lovely cookies!!

Peabody said...

I still have most of my picture books from when I was a teacher, I love them so.
What a great cookie to celebrate picture books!

Michelle said...

Those cookies look yummy! I'm dying to try them.

Sarah said...

Oh yeah! Frances!! My favorite is the one where she is going to run away. I related the most to that one :-)

I am very sad I never got to try these. My feelings are hurt. You should call me over next time you make nummy things like this that don't involve chocolate. You know those things have my name ALL over them. But, we'll look at it as you were saving me from the extra chub, and thus, I shall forgive you.

Next children's book to blog about is "my father's dragon". Can you work in something with that?

CookiePie said...

I love those cookies, they're so pretty and ladylike!

Debbie said...

Oh do those cookies look good. I recently posted one also with jam. I LOVE cookies with jam in between.....How will I ever lose the pounds I put on over the holidays!

Natashya said...

They are so beautiful and delicate - how many cookies are on the to make list? It would be good to be your neighbour while you are baking your way through the list!
For children's books,
I was always rather partial to Where the Wild Things Are.

Maria said...

Cookie sandwiches are my favorite kind:)

Elle said...

I love that book! Frances would very likely have loved these cookies.

Mary said...

I think there were several Frances books. I loved them!

Jackie said...

Mmm I want one! :-)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Oh, yum. And cherry jam just happens to be one of my favourites, so if you could just pass that plate... ! ;-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, these are right up my alley, Lynn.

pattio said...

Your cookies look very professional.

Bellini Valli said...

Frances would be very happy!

RecipeGirl said...

They're so perfect looking!

lol My fave part of the book club I used to be in was trying to match recipes with the theme of the book. Obviously I was in it more for the food :)

VeggieGirl said...

I'm back :-)

**Just as a heads up: I will not be able to comment on blogs as often now, during this semester, due to work overload (I'm stressed already) - PLEASE know that I'm still loyally reading, but just won't have time to comment. I hope you understand!!

Melinda said...

I am not familiar with the Frances books. How did I miss those?
Your jammy cookies look wonderful.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Those cookies look excellent

LyB said...

I have some homemade jam that is begging to be sandwiched in between buttery vanilla cookies! Your photos are beautiful, Lynn, and the cookies look delicious. :)

Aimée said...

I loves those books as a kid and now Noah does too. He's smitten with Madeline, that little wild child, and can recognize most Paris landmarks now!

More stellar cookies from you, Lynn!

Katrina said...

Great post. Great cookies. Can't wait to see more of your sharing from the Cookies book.