A memory comes to mind on this cold January evening. A warmer season in my early childhood. I was naturally drying myself in the warm summer air after hours of Marco Polo and “How Many Seconds Can I Hold My Breath Underwater?” My grandparents’ home was any child’s favorite place to go on summer vacation. I can’t count how many summer pool parties were thrown at this house, but I know there were a lot of water balloons made and cannon balls splashed. Not only was it always stocked with Goldfish, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and Haagen Dazs Ice Cream Bars, but it had an in-the-ground swimming pool and a pond where we caught sunfish. One of my favorite things about summers at my grandparents’ house was the fresh fruit bushes that divided their property from the neighbors’ land. I distinctly remember plucking ripe berries off of my grandmother’s berry bushes right around the week of July 4th. To this day, whenever I eat blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, I think of the summer spent footloose and fancy-free.
So, when the fine folks over at The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission asked me to create a sweet recipe with their wonderful berries, I had to say, “Absolutely I will!” I respect people who grow food and also communities who support their local farmers. In my adolescence, I went to an agricultural school and worked at a farm stand during the summer. Farming, harvesting, growing… it’s hard work. Tasty work, but hard work nonetheless. If you have never seen the R&B Commission’s website, I urge you to check it out. Not only does it have wonderful recipes, but also it provides a plethora of information about the berry seasons in Oregon as well as health articles about the positive effects of berries in our lives.
After the R&B Commission asked me to create a recipe, I decided that I needed to make thumbprints. Now, traditionally, thumbprints are only made around Christmas time and are generally a shortbread dough flavored with almond or vanilla. I’m a rebel; what can I say? Erin’s going to make thumbprints at the end of January, but they’re going to make everyone wish that it was summertime. I wanted to kick things up a notch and decided that lemon extract was just the flavor to tango with the blackberry fruit spread center. I had to make two batches of these cookies because they did not last long in my house. These cookies shout warmer weather and happy vibes.
- 2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 stick unsalted butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
- 6 ounces blackberry fruit spread for filling
- powdered sugar for topping
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy and light. Slowly add sugar and lemon extract into mixture. Set aside.
- In another medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk with fork.
- Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and beat until dough comes together. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Roll dough into 2 inch balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently press thumb into the middle of each cookie and fill cookie with fruit spread.
- Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
- As soon as cookies are out of the oven, remove from cookie sheet and place on cooling rack. When cookies are completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.