Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Jam Shortbread Squares
One of the dearest, truest women I know is my friend, Michelle. Now only does she grace me with her friendship, but she also shares her favorite recipes. Her nephew, who was in the Boy Scouts, presented these cookies to her when he was trying to earn his cooking badge. Michelle, knowing a good thing when she sees and tastes one, quickly copied the recipe for herself and fortunately for me, made a copy for me. I cannot tell you how many times I've made these cookies or how many times I've handed out the recipe. Its simplicity belies the fact that it is a treasure. It's like shortbread with pizzazz; linzer cookies without the cookie cutters; thumbprint cookies without the thumbprint. However you want to describe them, people are wowed by how delicious they are!
Jam Shortbread Squares
1 cup butter (2 sticks) (absolutely no substitutes or the shortbread won't work for you)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 jar (12 oz or so) jam or preserves (apricot, raspberry, strawberry, or experiment!)
Preheat your oven to 350F. You'll need a 9x13 baking dish, ungreased.
Soften (do not melt) the butter. Add the sugar. With a pastry fork or using two knives in a criss-cross cutting motion, combine the two ingredients. Add the flour and continue to combine in the same manner. The mixture will be very heavy and raggedy looking. That's okay; that's what you want. From this mixture, take out 3/4 cup and set aside.
With your impeccably clean hands, pat the remainder of the dough into the pan. Pat up the sides to create a slight ridge around the edge as you'll want to create a border to hold in the jam. You're going to have to use some judgement here. If you pat the dough too hard, it will be like concrete; too light a hand and you'll have crumbs.
Drop big spoonfuls of the jam over the crust and spread in an as even a layer as you can. It may help to slightly warm the jam in the microwave for about 15 seconds or so to help it spread more easily. Just remember to remove the cap before microwaving.
Sprinkle jam layer with the reserved crumbs.
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting.