Gift Guide 2012: Keep Calm and Carry On or in the Alternative KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly)
So you’ve waited and now you are getting up and surfing online trying to make it happen. You don’t want to just give another gift card to Starbucks or even worse, an email gift certificate to itunes or amazon.com (not that there’s anything wrong with gift cards or these businesses).
You however, pride yourself on being awesome. Most of those on your list have everything they need and during the rest of the year you have amazing conversations with them about what’s important. Your “what’s important” conversation is never about things.
Here’s what we’ve been doing and we’ve gotten peals of delight and bright eyes whenever the recipient sees it.
It’s a cookie from Dorie Greenspan of Beurre & Sel called a Port Jammer. She’s every bakers’ favorite holiday elf. It has everything a heart could sing for, cherries, port (or NA wine as I chose), chocolate, seasonal cranberries, spices, and streusel. My husband says it is one of his favorite things. My husband doesn’t like sweets!
Now pick up a bottle of your favorite sparkler, grab a jar of fancy jam (yes, there’s still time to make one, but I’m trying to keep this stress-free) and your favorite coffee (if you roast your own, then place the coffee in a mason jar) and watch their eyes light up with joy.
So worse case scenario, you don’t run to the mall but maybe, just maybe you run to the grocer and grab the ingredients listed below, head home, turn up whatever music grooves you and bake this cookie!
Beurre & Sel’s Port Jammer (with a few changes)
Makes about 30 cookies in a muffin pan or 10 if using mason jar bands
2 points star anise
One- 2-inch piece cinnamon
¼ cup Fonseca Bin 27 Port** ( I substituted NA Fre’s Merlot, if you aren’t going to use the Port make sure the wine is fruity, jammy, and has low-tannins )
2 T. water
1 T honey
1 c dried cranberries
2 c all-purpose flour
2 ½ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. fine sea salt
¼ t. ground ginger
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ c. (packed) light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c (packed) light brown sugar
¼ c cocoa powder, sifted
2 T sugar
¾ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. fine sea salt
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ c cherry jam ( I use black cherries)
1 T Fonseca Bin 27** (I substituted 2 T of NA Fre Merlot)
Equipment: 3 standard muffin tins, or use mason jar bands
For the cranberries: place spices in a cheesecloth bundle and put in a small saucepan. Add honey, water and BIN 27**. Simmer for 1 min. Add cranberries and cook and stir until liquid evaporates. Throw spice bundle away. Cool cranberries.
To make the cookie: Mix flour, cinnamon, salt, ginger and black pepper together.
Cream the butter. This will take about 3 minutes. Beat in brown and white sugars. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add spiced flour and blend just until it is incorporated. This dough will be lumpy and sandy looking in parts. Next, stir in the Port** plumped and spiced cranberries.
Divide dough in half. Take one half of the dough and roll it until it is 6 inches long and about 1 ¾ inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
For the streusel: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter together in a large bowl. Rub everything together with your fingers until streusel forms moist crumbs. This will be sandy, grainy, and a bit lumpy. Cover and chill for at least 1 hr.
Place oven rack in the center and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir the cherry jam and Fonseca BIN 27**( I used 2 T. of NA Merlot to give it a bit more of that boozy taste in Port) together.
For Muffin Tins: Cut your cookie dough at ¼ inch intervals. Make certain you turn your dough log a ¼ turn with each cut.
For Mason Jar Bands: If you are going to use mason jar bands, then cut the cookie dough at ½ inch intervals. Make certain you turn your dough log a ¼ turn with each cut.
Spray muffin tins or mason jar bands with Baker’s Joy.
For Muffin Tins: Place 1 cut piece of cookie dough into each muffin tin. Press the dough into the tin. Place ½ t. of jam in the center of each cookie. I take a smaller biscuit cutter and place it in the center of the cookie. Then I spoon the jam in. Leaving that small biscuit cutter in place I top the outside of the cookie with a few spoonfuls of streusel.
For Mason Jar Bands: If you are using mason jar bands, place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press the dough until it is touching all sides of the band. These cookies are a bit larger than those that are made in the standard muffin tins (they are pictured above) Put about 1 t. of jam in the center of each cookie I take a smaller biscuit cutter and place it in the center of the cookie. Then I spoon the jam in. Leaving that small biscuit cutter in place I top the outside of the cookie with a few spoonfuls of streusel.
For Muffin Tins: Bake 14 to 15 mins, until streusel sets and jam bubbles. At the half way mark, rotate the pan. Cool to room temperature before serving (about 15 minutes on a wire rack). Take a plastic knife (I bet you have a non-stick muffin tin) or a chopstick, or I use a wooden bamboo skewer & run it around the cookie to release it from the pan. Place on wire rack and continue to cool the cookies before packing them up as gifts.
For Mason Jar Bands: Bake for 22 minutes, until streusel sets and jam bubbles. At the half way mark, rotate the pan. Cool to room temperature before serving (about 15 minutes on a wire rack). Squeeze each band. Take a sharp knife or I use a wooden bamboo skewer & run it around the cookie to release it from the band. Squeeze the band again. Gently cup the band in one hand and invert it , with the other hand gently push the bottom of the cookie out (a lot like removing a cake from a round pan) Place streusel-side up on wire rack and continue to cool the cookies before packing them up as gifts.
** If you are going to substitute the Port, it is a fortified wine so it’s difficult to find a comparable substitute( especially if you are looking for a NA substitute) look for a red that’s full of fruit and has no smoke or oak. If you decide to use a red wine this is the place for a fruity, jammy, low-tannin, but not off-dry number.