So, I got a little obsessed over some cookies. They weren’t just any cookies, they were Dorie Greenspan’s brilliant new “Jammers”, which she debuted at the latest incarnation of her (and her son Josh’s) CookieBar. I first saw them when Bon Appétit hosted a contest where readers could vote on their favorite Cookiebar cookie and have the recipe revealed, but the Jammers lost (although, I would like to point out to my friends at Bon Appétit that this was not a fair contest since the vote was split between the dark and light Jammers. I mean, come on!). I was disappointed, but blamed myself for not exercising my democratic rights.
Luckily, Dorie has been very open in talking about the recipe and explained that the cookie was a shortbread base (more specifically, her sablé recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours), Sarabeth’s preserves and a streusel topping. All of that was baked in a ring mold (a ring mold! ah, the brilliance of this woman!), which gave the cookies delightfully browned edges and made each one a special treat—somewhere between a jam tart and a substantial cookie.
I knew they had to be mine.
Since a trip to New York wasn’t in the cards, I set about making them myself.
I thought the jam filling would be the easiest par— I could just buy it. I found a jar of the Sarahbeth Raspberry/Strawberry jam at a local market. Easy. But the lemony pineapple-pear was not available for sale. Bummer. The recipe was included in Sarabeth’s book (which is beautiful) and so, of course, I made it. The jam itself is delicious, and totally worth making on its own. I’ll post the recipe for that soon.
With jam procured, I began pondering the tart rings. I know not everyone has a set of ring molds to use, and buying a set can be costly. People always suggest making them out of tuna cans, but that seems both unappealing and like a long-term project. I found a good alternative in the unlikeliest of places: the whoopie pie pan. Whoopie pie pans are not something I would normally buy, and have definitely made fun of in the past. They seem 100% unnecessary for the making of whoopie pies, and in fact make whoopie pies look not like whoopie pies—I don’t get it. BUT, they are a great mold for these cookies, and so I apologize to any whoopie pie pans I have offended over the years. Your time has come.
With the equipment and jam ready to go (oh no, this is getting really Cook’s Illustrated-y), I was ready to bake. Dorie’s sablé cookie dough has been a favorite for a long time, and I just added a little vanilla (or lemon, in the case of the light jammers) for flavor. The recipe makes enough dough to fill the whoopie pie pan exactly, which was a happy little coincidence. Once I had smoothed the dough into each of the 12 little cups, I topped each with a scant tablespoon of jam and a sprinkling of streusel, put them in the oven, and waited.
I don’t know what Dorie’s cookies tasted like, so I can’t compare these to anything. But I can say that these are fantastic. They taste exactly like what I imagined her jam-filled cookies would be like (although I do imagine them being even better in her expert hands). Buttery shortbread, sweet and flavorful jam and then the crunch of streusel. Wowzers. Cookie jackpot!
And now we can all start getting creative with this technique. Different jams, different flavoring for the shortbread, nuts in the streusel, the possibilities are almost endless.
I did make my second batch in ring molds, and they are prettier. If you have them, definitely use them. I like the straight sides, but the taste is the same and the whoopie pie pan versions are charming in their own way.
Thank you, Dorie, for the inspiration and for teaching us all that streusel and cookies are the perfect match and that browned edges really are the best part. You remain, my baking hero and inspiration. Soon, we’ll all be able to order some of Dorie’s cookies and have them delivered to our homes. I hope you are as excited as I am.
If you were fortunate to try the real jammers, and try this version, let me know how they compare!
Dorie’s Cookiebar Jammers (as imagined by me)
Sablé Dough (recipe by Dorie Greenspan, from Baking: From My Home to Yours)
- 2 sticks (1 cup / 8 ounces / 227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar (3.5 oz/ 100 g)
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted (1 oz / 28 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
- 2 large egg yolks (7 teaspoons / 35 ml. / 1.3 oz / 37 g), at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (9.6 oz / 272 g)
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 of the egg yolks and vanilla, again beating until the mixture is homogeneous.
Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and the counter from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek—if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. (If most of the flour is incorporated but you’ve still got some in the bottom of the bowl, use a rubber spatula to work the rest of the flour into the dough.) The dough will not clean the sides of the bowl, nor will it come together in a ball—and it shouldn’t. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy (rather than smooth) dough. Pinch it, and it will feel a little like Play-Doh.
***variation: you can make a lemon-y dough by omitting the vanilla and adding the zest of one lemon to the granulated sugar. Use your fingers to rub it in and release oils from lemon. Proceed as directed.
Brown Sugar Streusel
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (ideally fine sea salt, I sometimes also use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt)
- pinch of ground cinnamon
Melt butter in a small saucepan on stove or in microwave. Add the rest of the ingredients all at once and stir with a fork to form crumbs. You should have a kind of wet sand texture. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
Assembling and baking the Cookies:
You need 1 recipe of sablé cookie dough, 1 recipe of streusel, and some jam or preserves
In either case, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Tart Ring Method: Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll dough to just shy of 1/2-inch thick. Use 3-inch round rings to stamp out cookies (I ended up getting 8-9 cookies using this method. You could take the scraps and press them into extra molds). Transfer the dough and rings to prepared baking sheet. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 10-15 minutes until the dough firms up a bit (while the dough chills, you can make the streusel). Top the chilled dough with a couple of teaspoons of jam (strawberry/raspberry with vanilla dough, pineapple/pear with lemon or get creative) and a sprinkling of the streusel. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until golden and delicious looking. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes before removing the rings. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Whoopie pie pan method: Fill each cup of the pan with a piece of dough and flatten with your fingers. The dough will be just slightly lower than the top of the pan. Proceed as above. Allow cookies to cool for 15-20 minutes in pan before using a small offset spatula to carefully ease them out of the pan and onto a cooling rack.
Makes 10-12 really substantial cookies, serving size is definitely 1. If you can hold on to them, they will keep well for 2-3 days.