Raspberry Thumbprints

“For the holidays can we make gingerbread houses?”
“We’re making them in class….”
So we won’t make them in cooking class.
“Okay, so we can make gingerbread cookies? And decorate them into little people? And lemon drop cookies? And caramel? And candy canes? And fudge? And chocolate cookies? Hot chocolate? Oh! Can we make hot chocolate?”

And the list went on while I walked away from the ramble. It followed close at my heels.

“So next week… what kind of holiday treat?”

Thanksgiving had barely passed and they were already itching for Christmas to begin. Or rather, the sugar rush of the holiday season I so despise cooking for. Hole yourself up in a room with one other adult plus 15 to 20 kids full of sugar daily for 3 weeks straight and see how your sanity fares. So instead I accept the questions and complaints of “we never make anything good in this class!” Ha!

But as Christmas creeps closer, the kids are eager for sugar. Of course, they’ll eventually be rewarded, but first they have to deal with Hannukah. Some sweet potato-onion latkes this year with homemade applesauce. And as was the case this year, a week or two between holidays I lay out my best distractions of not-so-holiday dishes: whole wheat calzones and vegetable samosas.

The week before winter break has arrived and they’re giddy. What will it be? Gingerbread? Chocolate chip? Snickerdoodles? Hot chocolate?

“We are making something sweet… right?”
I was thinking of calzones again, everyone loved them so much.
“What?! This is so unfair! I hated those!”
But you told me you went home that night and made them again with your family?!

The reward does arrive in the shape of their own little thumbs with our lemon shortbread based raspberry thumbprint cookies. Some of the kindergarterner’s cookies are less thumbprint and more a meld of shortbread and jam, but they’re happy because even though it looks nothing like we were supposed to make, it is theirs.

“This was the best class ever!
“Well, the calzones were pretty awesome. What are we making next year?”
I don’t know, I haven’t decided.
“Gingerbread cookies?!”

Lemon Shortbread Raspberry Thumbprints
Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
seedless raspberry jam

Heat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth and thickened and creamy. Mix in flour and salt until just combined.
Take approximately 1-1/2 tablespoons of dough (about the size of a ping pong ball), and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet and press an indent of your thumb into the cookie, about halfway into the dough. Fill with raspberry jam and repeat with remaining dough, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

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