We’re in Hawaii! I had a filing the night before that kept me in the office about a million hours later than I expected, we packed half the things we meant to pack and none of our laundry, but we made it on the plane (I think I set a new record for the most hours I’ve or anyone has ever slept on a single flight) and now I’m sitting at B2’s family’s kitchen counter, blissfully free of legal research and two days away from spending my first Christmas in Honolulu. I visited in January once before, but I’ve never been here for Christmas itself, so I thoroughly enjoyed this surfer Santa and his muumuu-clad Mrs. Claus, I’ve asked B2 about five times too many whether people actually say “mele kalikimaka,” and I’m gleefully sure I just overheard the words “ahi poke for Christmas.” But sunshine aside, it’s still pretty much just like Christmas with my family where it counts — with endless amounts of food, aunties and uncles galore, and B2 and his sister making fun of each other all day, and that coziness is what makes me the happiest about being here. (Also the ahi poke.)
Since getting here my activities have consisted of very little cooking and very lots of eating, but I did make these thumbprint cookies before we left, in an only slightly colder New York. With how warm it’s been, I feel like I almost can’t call these “wintery,” but nonetheless, they’re a wintery spin on these, inspired by my favorite combo from an extravaganza of a cheese board I put together a few weeks back. I always think of thumbprints as one of the holiday-iest holiday cookies, so I thought they were only fitting despite the warm weather. The goat cheese is a little unconventional, but it adds a faintly savory warmth to a soft and chewy sugar cookie dough, and it’s well-balanced by a generous dollop of sweet fig jam. These are gentle, homey cookies, just one more suggestion for your holiday platter in case you’re not full up on Christmas cookies already, or a little idea to use up any jams or creamy cheeses you might have left over from holiday parties.
I hope you’re all having the coziest holiday season, whether or not you’re celebrating, and the happiest New Year! I’ll see you in 2016 (whoa), but in the meantime, here’s just a quick note to say that I am always so thankful to have you here. It is the best gift. Thank you for being here for one more year, and for making this little blog what it is. Happy holidays!
makes about 16-18 small cookies.
- for the dough:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp (2 oz) fresh or aged goat cheese, softened (like this fresh goat cheese or this Bonne Bouche aged goat cheese)
- 4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- for the filling:
- 1/2 cup fig jam
- 1-2 tbsp fresh goat cheese (not aged, see Notes)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate, large bowl, combine sugar, goat cheese, and butter in a large bowl. Using an electric beater or plenty of arm strength, whisk until mixture is pale and creamy. Whisk in egg yolk and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour mixture until incorporated and a dough forms. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place the ball on the cookie sheet and press an indentation in the dough to form a hollow for the jelly. Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing the balls about 1-2 inches apart (they will not spread too much).
- Place about a half-teaspoon of jam into each of the dough indentations, or enough to fill it. Place a dot of goat cheese (or as much as desired) on top.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cookies are set at the edges. The cookies will be pale and soft, but the cookie should be able to lift away from the sheet and the bottom should be just golden. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Originally this recipe called for a slightly sweetened goat cheese-milk mixture, but I found that plain goat cheese works just as well and is far simpler. And simple is good in the holidays, right? Just consider avoiding aged goat cheese for the filling, which melts more like a regular cheese and might be off-putting for a cookie (though it works spectacularly in the dough to make it even softer!)
Finally, if you're not a huge fan of goat cheese, cream cheese will work wonderfully in its place.