I am back in my childhood home for the holidays, and could not resist making my favourite childhood Christmas cookie on a lazy afternoon. There’s something so lovely about getting out all the supplies that haven’t changed much in 20+ years, including the 1970s Tupperware flour and sugar containers, and using the same old oven to make a comforting and familiar treat. Thanks to some baking skills that have improved over the years, I think these were the best batch ever.
They go by many names: Bird’s Nests, Thumbprint cookies, Polish tea cookies, and have many variations: rolled in coconut, pecan or walnut pieces, or plain, filled with chocolate, cherries or jam. The combos are numerous, but I think my mom’s way is the best; rolled in crushed pecans, and filled raspberry jam. The toastiness of the pecans, the buttery crumbly cookie, and the sweet-tart raspberry jam are delightful, and cannot be matched. I love this cookie so much I am ignoring my egg allergy for a day or two, because there would be no egg-free way to recreate this cookie perfection.
They are so simple, just a few ingredients that are probably already in the pantry, and they bake up crisp and begging for a jam centre. A wonderful way to kick off the holiday break.
Bird’s Nest Cookies with Raspberry Jam
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, separated
1 cup flour
1 small package crushed pecans
good quality raspberry jam
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth, then mix in egg yolk. Stir in flour until a crumbly dough forms.
Using your hands, form one inch balls from the dough, you will get about 15 balls total.
Give the left over egg white a quick whisk in a small bowl, and pour a small amount of crushed pecans in a separate bowl.
Dip each ball first in the egg white and second in the crushed almonds, rolling around to coat.
Place the rolled balls on a cookie sheet and press an indentation in each cookie using your index finger or a thimble.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and re-press the indents. Bake another 15 minutes. Cookies should have toasty bottoms but still be slightly soft. They will firm up as they cool.
Once cool, cookies can be frozen for later, or filled with jam for serving immediately.