Last night when I was trying to come up with a baked goods idea, I decided that I should peruse some of the cookbooks that I've been neglecting for a while (I have so many cookbooks that large numbers of them sit unused for long stretches of time). Eventually I came to Butter Sugar Flour Eggs: Whimsical Irresistible Desserts, by Gale Gand.
I can't even remember the last time I used this cookbook, but I quickly flipped through it and decided to try the recipe "Giant's Thumbprint Butter Cookies," from the very first chapter of the book, "Butter." (This cookbook is divided into chapters by theme ingredient. The first four chapters, corresponding with the title of the book, are "Butter," Sugar," "Flour" and "Eggs." There are also chapters on "Chocolate," "Citrus," "Fruit," "Nuts," "Cheese," "Spice," and "Holidays.")
The ingredient list is very short. Two sticks of softened butter, 2/3 cup sugar, the scraped seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, and jam. One of the reasons I decided to try this recipe was that the dough looked like it would be very quick to put together. All you do is cream together the butter and sugar, add the vanilla bean seeds and salt, and incorporate the flour. I used a #40 cookie scoop to parcel out the dough, which I flattened with my hand before making a well in the middle of each cookie with my thumb. I then used a very small #70 cookie scoop to portion out raspberry spreadable fruit in the middle of each cookie.
These cookies were quite large (hence the word "giant" in the name), and mine finished baking in 19 minutes at 350 degrees. (The recipe specified that the cookies should take about 25-30 minutes to bake.) I made a double batch and ended up with 32 cookies; the recipe indicates that a single batch should yield 18 cookies. The end result was a crisp, buttery shortbread cookie (this recipe contains no eggs) with a wonderfully rich texture and light golden color. I thought it was delicious and beautiful. If you look closely, you can see the little flecks of vanilla bean in the dough, which I think is a very nice touch. I would (and will) definitely make these again.
Recipe: "Giant's Thumbprint Butter Cookies," from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs: Whimsical Irresistible Desserts by Gale Gand.