Vanilla Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Homemade Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Thumbprint cookies blog graphic

 

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I need to be.”

Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Time…it’s been on my mind a lot lately. This ticking clock we live our lives by, moment by moment slipping away. It’s probably because I’m about halfway through the last year of my thirties, nearing 40 with each stroke of the second hand. This year looms ahead, the changing of a decade, forcing me to look back and take stock of the years that have passed while simultaneously looking forward and re-prioritizing for my years to come. I’m in a paradox of time and life, and I have to admit that I’m not uncomfortable here. I kind of like this reflective vantage point I find myself in. 

I feel like I should be terrified of aging, of getting older. The world tells me that my good times are virtually dead at this point–there is no fun after 40. The good looks are gone, now qualified with the terribly demeaning tag line “for her age.” I’m in that stage of life dubbed by culture as tedious and ridiculous, not fun, not cool. I’m in midlife and I’m a parent, two of the most un-sexy things out there, in our modern society.

I’m stuck smack in the middle of a life that can’t be lived for myself. Believe me, I’ve tried. Gone are the weekends of relaxation and refreshment, brunches and nights out are a thing of our past. Right now Mr. BurntToast and I do just about everything we can to tread water, spending every last ounce of energy we have hustling kids from one game to another, from practice to practice. It’s a carefully coordinated and intricately organized dance, one in which we are often reluctant participants (especially me, because I hate sports, as we all know). But we’re here and we’re doing it and we’re doing it together.

I am on the waning end of my looks, or so the world tells me. Each time I glance in the mirror I’m reminded of this, that glow of youth taken over by dark undereye circles and the faintest hint of crinkles and wrinkles around my eyes. Leading ladies in the movies are no longer my peers, they’ve been replaced by younger, shinier bouncier versions of themselves. Stars my age, they’re now relegated to “mom” roles, decidedly uncool and often a caricature of what real women “of age” look and feel like.

I’m in this weird flex point where I feel like I have to make a decision about how I’m going to grow old, to be consciously coming up with a plan of action so I can stay beautiful forever. Am I going to do it gracefully or am I going to fight it with every last ounce of my being? Am I going to let the grey hair come in or cover it up until I die? Does Botox work for me, or should I just let these wrinkles fly? I feel like should be making decisions and fighting hard, but it’s all so exhausting I just don’t want to. I mean, I can’t even manage to get manicures, how could I ever be expected to keep up needles in my face?

And my goals and plans, well those are under the microscope now too. For years I lived somewhat unintentionally in this department, swapping my goals for my husbands career and then having children. Allowing myself to be swallowed up in the tide of early mom life, drowning out my voice with the immediate needs and cares of my family. Then, for a while, I shut those needs out and pursued my own selfmade plans and goals, what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I listened to what the world tells us successful looks like and tried to have it all and do it all, finally exhausting myself, my family and my relationships. It was just too much.  raspberry thumbprint cookie click to tweet

So I had to reset, strip away the past and move forward with grit and grace towards the unknown. And in that reset I found this world that I’ve created, this BurntToast thing that has done more than I ever could have thought possible. I have balance of life and work and the work that I do is my passion, my plans lining up with who I am, not some hard-driving, hard-living definition of success, but rather a gentler, kinder version that involves surrendering my goals for those much greater than mine and living each day for something bigger than myself.

Thank God for the reset, no matter what form it takes.

And now, here I am with 40 more years (hopefully) stretching out before me, and despite all of the mistakes and missteps, I’m still here thriving and growing. I still feel cool and relevant, despite constant reminders from both my children and the world that I am not. I still want to feel all of the same things that I did when I was in my 20’s, none of that changes despite the different life circumstances. I still drive down the road with my windows open, listening to rap music like a boss. I still feel really awesome in those moments, like life is an open road stretched out in front of me with endless possibilities and adventures ahead…even if that drive is just a short 3 minute jaunt to school pick up.

3 minutes of feeling awesome is enough for me these days. 

And for my next 40 years I feel like I’ve finally figured some stuff out. Maybe I don’t look quite as great as I did for my first 40, but damn if I don’t feel maybe just a bit wiser. I don’t know everything, but I know enough to make the rest of my life maybe a little less chaotic and definitely a little more peaceful.

I know now to always stop for a dance party when asked by any human under 10.

I know now to breathe deep and pause before reacting. Always breathe and pause.

I know now to smile, always smile. No one likes RBF, even if it’s unintentional. And also, smiles work from the outside in, and sometimes faking it until we make it is the most courageous act of self-preservation we can commit.

I know now that movement doesn’t have to be extreme to be beneficial and working out doesn’t have to feel like death to be healthy, but dang if movement doesn’t help work out the kinks and the creaks that being almost 40 brings about. 

I know now that love is always the answer to whatever question, whatever dilemma, whatever problem we face. Love is always the answer.

And finally, I know now that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. The good, it will pass. So will the bad. This moment that feels big and huge and insurmountable, it will pass too. Life marches on. Time doesn’t stop. The unforgivable can be forgiven and the unforgettable can be forgotten. Moving with the ebb and flow and adjusting, always adjusting, is the key to life. Our plans, even the best laid ones, are never what matter in the end. It’s the moments in the days and the days in the life that do. So make each one count.

And love, always love in the end.

So, friends, thanks for baring with me today. I don’t know what’s gotten into me and I’m definitely waxing a bit poetic. I apologize if it got tedious. I promise to be witty and fun next time.

But for now, I’m going to leave you with a fun little recipe that is as young at heart as it is mature. The contrast of the sweetness of the jelly to the smoothness of the shortbread is like a kiss from childhood. I love the memories that this cookie evoke, a semi-nod to the jelly sandwiches I devoured as a kid.

And they’re decidedly easy to make, too, which is a bonus. We all know that I’m not much of a baker (as evidenced by the great poppy seed muffin adventure of 2018–read all about it here). I leave the hard stuff to my husband who is more precise and focused than I am, both skills that baking requires. But shortbread is such a deceptive little bugger. It’s so easy to make, no leavening agents to mess with, no worry about things rising or falling. Just straight forward butter and sugar mixed into deliciousness.

Of course, you can use store bought jam or jelly for this one. Don’t feel at all like you’re failing if you do. But if you have twenty minutes to spare, this homemade jam is the bomb. It’s so easy you’ll be shocked and it’s a huge bragging right when you tell people you made it yourself. It makes enough for leftovers too, so hello jam on toast for an entire week. You’re welcome for the bonus. 

Peace, love and cookies,

Meg 

Vanilla Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Homemade Raspberry Jam

December 13, 2019

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Ingredients
  • For the Jame:
  • 1 12 ounce pack of frozen raspberries (preferably organic)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon (roughly 2 tablespoons)
  • For the cookies:
  • 2 sticks of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
Directions
  • Step 1 For the jam:
  • Step 2 In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice.
  • Step 3 Over low heat, stir continuously until sugar is dissolved and liquid begins to form in the pan.
  • Step 4 Turn heat to medium high and bring to a rolling boil. Continue to cook, stirring and mashing often, for about 20 minutes or until mixture is thickened and will gel on a chilled plate.
  • Step 5 Move to a airtight container and cool in fridge until cookies are ready to be filled.
  • Step 6 There will be leftovers which will keep for about a week.
  • Step 7 For the cookies:
  • Step 8 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Step 9 Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and almond and beat until creamy.
  • Step 10 Mix in flour and stir (or beat) until a dough forms.
  • Step 11 Pinch off tablespoon sized balls of dough and form into a round.
  • Step 12 Place about two inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Step 13 Making an indentation in each cookie with your thumb like a little pool, scoop about a teaspoon of jam into each, making sure to fill completely.
  • Step 14 Bake for 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.
  • Step 15 Let cool for five minute before moving to cooling rack.
  • Step 16 ENJOY!
Buttery soft almond shortbread is topped with sweet, tart homemade raspberry jam for a wonderful cookie perfect for year round celebrations. Deceptively easy with just 5 ingredients, the cookies are perfect alone or simply topped with nutella or chocolate icing. 3 ingredient and 20-minute raspberry jam takes them to the next level, giving this amazing cookie a taste that the whole family will love.
Delicious and easy, these thumprint cookies are the perfect treats for your holiday gathering. Quick homemade jam makes them a stand out. Rich vanilla shortbread makes them unbelievable. Give these a try for your next cookie exchange or party. Your guests will love them. And so will you. #christmascookies #holidaybaking #cookierecipes #cookies #bakingrecipes

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