I absolutely love making all kinds of cookies and treats during the Christmas season, and this is the recipe I picked to kick things off! It is from AllRecipes and is virtually unchanged. Only difference is I did not make the glaze. Mine may not have turned out super pretty, but they taste like they were sent down from cookie heaven. The tart, sweet, kind of gooey (but not wet) jelly in the middle of the cookie goes perfectly with the sweet, mild, slightly almond flavored cookie. They are proof that simple things are often the best as they only have 5 ingredients and are really quick and easy to make! Also, to my surprise, the cookies are still fantastic several days after they were baked. The jelly center has not made the cookie soggy at all and the cookie part is still wonderfully crisp. If you like crunchy shortbread, these are a surefire hit! My husband is a purist when it comes to cookies, pretty much only likes his family's recipe for chocolate chip cookies, AND hates crunchy cookies, but he still liked these. Oh and they are an even tastier version of Pepperidge Farm Verona Cookies.
If you make these, my one tip is to use more jelly in the center than you think you will need. It will melt down in the oven and some of the liquid will boil off, so you need enough jelly. Other reviewers cautioned about making the thumb print too deep, but I did not run into any problems at all, and to make sure to bake the cookies until light golden so that the bottoms are cooked enough to stand up to the jelly.
Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints
1 C salted butter, softened
2/3 C sugar
1/2 t almond extract (can use more if you want them really almondy but we liked them as is)
2 C flour
about 1/2 C seedless raspberry jam or jelly (or another flavor if you prefer)
optional: about 1/4 C sugar to roll the dough balls in
Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper (the parchment paper is important in case you have jelly overflow!). Cream together the butter, sugar, and almond extract, then stir in the flour, being careful not to over mix. Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, roll balls in granulated sugar if desired, and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Carefully make a large thumb print (not too deep!) on each dough ball and fill the thumbprint with jelly. Bake until cookies are light golden and center is bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely before tasting as that jelly is molten! When cookies have cooled, stack them in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for at least several days.
Yield: About 28 to 36 cookies (I got 28, the original recipe says 36)