Getting into a Jam: Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam

When I made Mindy Segal's Kriek Crumble Bars, I had to buy a bottle of kriek cherry lambic. While the fruit beer was not too difficult to track down, I could only find Lindemans brand kriek, which comes in a 750ml bottle. That was more than I needed for the kriek bars, so I decided to use the remaining kriek for another recipe from Cookie Love, Segal's "Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam." I didn't think there would be a problem using cherry lambic to make the strawberry jam, because the cookbook simply specifies "berry lambic." Moreover, in my attempt to find cherry lambic I visited several stores in DC; I saw apple lambic, cherry lambic, peach lambic, and raspberry lambic -- but I didn't come across strawberry lambic anywhere.

To make the strawberry jam, you macerate diced strawberries with sugar and the lambic at room temperature for at least four hours and then cook the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated. My jam wasn't that thick, but the directions say that it thickens upon cooling, so I figured that it would work out  -- even though this jam starts out with a lot of liquid (12 fluid ounces of lambic to 12 ounces of strawberries) and doesn't including any thickener (like the tapioca flour used in the similar cherry filling for Segal's Kriek Crumble Bars). I chilled the jam ovenight, and it was still very runny. But there was nothing I could do about it at that point, so I forged ahead.

The dough for the peanut butter cookies is easy to make -- you cream butter with sugar and brown sugar; add creamy peanut butter, egg, and vanilla; and add all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt). I thought the method of forming the cookies seemed like a lot of hassle. First you're supposed to pat the dough into a rectangle and chill it completely, cut the rectangle into logs, and roll each log in finely chopped Beer Nuts. Then you're supposed to cut the logs into pieces to form the cookies. Instead, I decided to use a #50 scoop to portion out the dough before chilling. Then when I was ready to bake, I rolled each individual cookie in Beer Nuts before making an indentation with my thumb and filling it with jam. (Incidentally, I couldn't find Beer Nuts anywhere around here -- but it turns out that you can buy them from the Beer Nuts website at very reasonable prices and even get free shipping with no minimum.)
The photo above shows the attractive cookies I got when I used store-bought jam. But what happened to the homemade strawberry lambic jam, you ask? It turns out that when I used the runny jam, most of the liquid just soaked into the cookies and made an ugly mess (much like the time I tried to use Bonne Maman cherry jam for Gale Gand's thumbprint cookie recipe). After the first batch of cookies turned out looking like those in the photo below, I quickly switched to store-bought jam. Shortly after I made these cookies I came across a video of Mindy Segal making the jam and cookies, and her jam looks absolutely delicious -- and nothing like mine.
Both sets of cookies tasted good, at least at the beginning. I was a little disappointed that the flavor of Beer Nuts wasn't more prominent; I don't think there's a real need to make a special effort to track them down, and the red-skinned peanuts Segal suggests as an alternative would do just as well. The cookie was a little dry, but overall, it was a flavorful little bite and I liked the crunch from the chopped nuts. I tried one of the homemade jam cookies on day two and it was soggy and gross. I didn't keep any of the cookies with store-bought jam around, so I don't know if they held up better.

I'm frustrated that my jam turned out so badly and I'd like to give at least that part of the recipe another try. But honestly -- the finished cookies were fine, but they weren't good enough to make me want to bake them again.

Recipe: "Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Strawberry Lambic Jam" from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal, recipe available here (although it's a little different from the cookbook version) here at Tasting Table. You can also watch a video of Mindy making the cookies here.

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Louise said…
I think I'm starting to fail to see the Cookie Love. I'm sure if I made the Lambic jam and had the same results you had, and I fully expect I would, Clearjel would have made it's way into the jam. Out of curiosity, while shopping today, I found that our Wegman's has Beer Nuts. Maybe it's because our store sells six packs of beer and also has a pub, or this is just Beer Nuts country.
LOL, my skepticism is also growing! (And they just opened a new Wegman's nearby with a sit down restaurant -- but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet!) On the bright side, I'm currently enamored with the Chicago Tribune's holiday cookies cookbook -- I've had a lot of success with the first few recipes I've tried (blog posts to come!).