Friday, March 16, 2012

Jam Thumbprint Cookies by Ina Garten

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food - see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

I am thrilled beyond belief that this week at #39 we have Ina Garten. Yes, THE Ina Garten. My favorite Food Network cook. For the novice cook and baker I am, Ina is an absolute joy to watch and I can sit for hours in front of the TV watching her gracefully and effortlessly pull delicious meals together. She, to me, is the epitome of simplistic elegance. When you watch her cook, you feel like there's nothing you can't do. She really does make you go, "how easy is that?", at the end of every show. Seriously. At least to me...after I've wiped off all the drool.

Source: House Beautiful
I secretly, Ok, not so secret anymore, wish my life would take the course hers has. Now, I know I'm not some big-shot brainiac working my way up to the White House Office of Management and Budget, like she did, but, I would like to think my humble career in PR comes close, even if it's a trillion miles away. Ina released all the stress and immense pressure she faced at work, by turning to her love of cooking and entertaining with dinner parties and soirees over the weekends and during any free time she got. On the side, Ina also indulged the interior decorator in her by buying, refurbishing and reselling homes. This also fattened her piggy bank, which would later come in handy.

In 1978, when Ina was looking for other creative outlets, she chanced upon an ad for a specialty food store on sale in the Hamptons. Curiosity aroused, Ina decided to investigate. After her visit, she made a low offer thinking the owner wouldn't really bite and that would give her more time to think about it. But, as fate would have it, the owner called the next day and handed her the keys to the shop. Dumbfounded, but thrilled, Ina bid adieu to the White House, dipped her hands into her piggy bank and took over the shop, previously called "Barefoot Contessa". Ina liked the name and decided to stick with it. That was the beginning of the story of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

In the 18 years that followed, Ina nurtured and grew the shop into a prominent hangout that was well-known for both its style and delicacies. The store saw a lot of footfall from affluent New Yorkers and celebrities alike. It certainly caught the eye of director Nancy Meyer, who used the store as a setting for her movie, Something's Gotta Give (I need to watch this one again and pay attention now!). In 1996, Ina sold the store to two of her employees.

With lots of time on her hands, Ina built an office above Barefoot Contessa and started writing cookbooks which went on to become great hits - The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, Barefoot in Paris, Barefoot Contessa at Home among others. She also launched her own line of baking mixes under the name, Barefoot Contessa Pantry. And of course, she also has her own show on the Food Network. If you'd like to explore more about this lovely lady, you can explore her website or read an exhaustive bio on Wikipedia.

I was in the biggest dilemma picking a recipe to feature again this week. Although, it's understandably so since I've been lusting over a million of her recipes for the past year and have been itching to get my hands on as many of them as I can. I drooled over and over at a lot of her meat dishes but, since I'm a vegetarian for lent, I had to force my fingers to move on and select the vegetarian dishes. Nothing appealed to me there even though I was hell-bent on not doing desserts this week.

Who am I kidding? Ina week and NO desserts? That would be sacrilege. For me. I picked a simple cookie recipe. I've been dying to experiment more with cookies. So, I knew I could trust Ina to lead the way. The whole time I was baking, in my mind, I thought I looked as graceful as Ina, gliding from the counter to the oven with perfect cookies in hand. When in reality, I was quite the mess with a fog of flour in the kitchen. But, that's how I bake and I find it more exciting! 

One thing I would note in this recipe is the amount of butter. While rolling the dough, it felt very slick and buttery. I felt it could've used less butter but, I don't know how that would affect the creamy texture of the baked cookie. I will try it probably with a little more than 3/4 of the butter and see how that goes. Messy experimentation for another day. For now, enjoy my faithful-to-Ina cookies.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies by Ina Garten

Ingredients and instructions
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry, apricot and/or any other jam that takes your fancy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can use an electric hand beater like I did), cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. 

Make sure you let them cool before you take them off the sheet, otherwise they'll crumble. Serve with tea or munch on them throughout the day.


Here's a list of the other bloggers participating in this series. Do go over to their blogs to see what yummy dishes they've whipped up. If you'd like to join the group, please get in touch with Mary of One Perfect Bite.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast [] Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed [] Susan - The Spice Garden [] Heather - girlichef [] Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney [] Jeanette - Healthy Living [] Mary - One Perfect Bite [] Kathleen - Bake Away with Me [] Sue - The View from Great Island [] Barbara - Movable Feasts [] Linda A - There and Back Again [] Nancy - Picadillo [] Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits [] Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen [] Annie - Most Lovely Things [] Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook [] Alyce - More Time at the Table [] Amrita -Beetles Kitchen Escapades


  1. I'm going to call Ina.

    Job well done, darlin'! YUM! And pinning these to make!

  2. Perfect! These are one of my all time fave cookies and I make them every chance I get :) Kid's happy and we're happy!

    Love that you featured Ina this week AMRITA.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  3. If I started on these babies I'm pretty sure I wouldn't stop. Your bio of Ina is so well written!

  4. Yum, these look awesome. I love the look of them rolled in coconut. LOOOOOVE!

  5. Want these for Christmas! Loved it all.

  6. wow, these look amazing. i love watching Ina Garten too, she's such a pleasure to watch, and so calming. I find her show so hilarious when Jeffrey is on, he just plays along. :-)

  7. These are the best thumbprint cookies I have ever seen - I love the toasted coconut!

  8. Your cookies are gorgeous and I really enjoyed your post today. I think we all love Ina. I hope you have a great holiday weekend. Blessings...Mary

  9. You got me with the coconut! And if it wasn't the coconutit would have been the jam prints. Your pictures are creative too!

  10. What perfect little bites of heaven - jam is one of my most treasured ingredients ever :D
    Your posts are so awesome - also I wanted to ask is there any issue with your email subscriptions? Because I have subscribed three times using and each time it says I will get email and it doesn't work :S
    Hope it does because otehrwise I will keep missing out!

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. What a gorgeous little cookie! Good write up about Ina and you've chosen a super recipe to feature. I've never made them, but her recipes are pretty near perfect every time. Guess I wouldn't mess with the butter amounts...baking is one area where you pretty much have to follow directions. Hope you found them as delicious as they look!

  12. Thanks, everyone, for your lovely compliments and comments!

    CCU - That's so strange...I need to fix this right away! Blogger is crazy in a lot of ways. Once you subscribed on the blog, did you activate it from the email you were sent as well?

    Barbara - That's precisely why I didn't mess with the measurements this time because baking is all about precision. I'll leave the experimentation for when I have a lot of time on my hands to deal with failed batches ;)

  13. What a classic cookie - I am a big fan of Ina Garten!

  14. Ina always adds something extra - doesn't she? The toasted coconut is perfect. These are one of my all-time favorite cookies - I can down them like a bag of popcorn. And if I could, I would will these luscious photos to materialize into cookies at my table.

  15. Oh yum!! Love thumbprint cookies -- the jam is always an added bonus ;)

  16. I know that I am obscenely late in telling this, but I adore these cookies! I made them when my children were little ... it was fun for them to make the thumbprints ... what memories they bring back! yummy post, Amrita!

  17. Hey I am just fan of Ina Garten. She is so sweet and I admire all her savoury and sweet recipes.
    The cookies look yummy with that coconut flakes.


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