When I read DorieGreenspan’s description of these cookies, I felt an instant love connection. These cookies are just like me: “a cross between a sturdy cookie jar cookie” (read: salt of the earth, no frills, call ‘em like I see ‘em Buffalo gal), and “more delicate side-of-the-saucer sweets” (read: semi-urban, semi-sophisticated and semi-refined food snob). When the MOTH reads this, he’ll be snarfing his papaya cookie at the idea of me being “refined,” but you get the point. These cookies, like me, waffle between high tea at the Palace and “Mom, whadda’ ya’ have for an afterschool snack?” On second thought, maybe it’s just the tea part of the high tea.
It all started with the jams. My gracious and ever-thoughtful foodie sister, who lives in Atlanta, sends me oodles of local jams and preserves every year. This generally happens the last week in September, after she’s sampled each of the unique offerings at an annual fall festival held in her town. Last September, she sent me this cool papaya preserves from Jill's Jam's. Papaya preserves seemed too high-end to waste on PB&Js, even in our house. And so it sat in the pantry, waiting for inspiration. With the cooler weather upon us and the next shipment of Jill’s Jam’s looming, I urgently needed to clean house. This coincided nicely with my need for a quick sugar fix. Which reminds me ….
The other big bonus about these cookies is they take only minimal effort: about 10 minutes to mix the ingredients and get them on the cookie sheets, 12 minutes in the oven, and they’re done. All you have to do is wait for the kettle to boil and the tea to steep. Which gives you just enough time to invite your semi-urban, semi-sophisticated, semi-refined food snob girlfriends to join you for a nice little afternoon tea.
Buttery Papaya Jam Cookies
From Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup of your favorite jam or preserves (Dorie uses apricot jam, I used papaya preserves.)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium sped until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and beat for a minute. Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes more. The mixture will be satiny. Add the milk and vanilla and beat just to combine. Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled, it will even out shortly.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the jam and beat for 1 minute more. With the mixer still on low, add the dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated. You’ll have a very thick dough.
Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between mounds (Note: if you don’t roll them into smooth balls with your hands, they will come out of the oven looking a little shaggy).
Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies will be only just firm, fairly pale and browned around the edges. Pull the sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for one minute, then carefully transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remainder of the dough, as needed, cooling the baking sheets between batches.
Serve with tea or keep in a sealed container for up to about 4 days.