One of the contributors to this anthology is a freelance writer I met when I first moved to San Francisco. Liz hired me for an administrative job at a translation agency, despite the fact that I failed the math test she gave me to see if I could accurately calculate bids on jobs. Luckily for me, filling the office with congenial people mattered to her – and, the office had a proper calculator.
Work at the translation agency didn’t last long, but our friendship – built on our shared interests in writing, food, and raising our kids – has. She is the source of our go-to chocolate birthday cake, and recently gave me her recipe for jam bars. I made them with half raspberry jam (to please Eli) and half orange marmalade (to please Ben). Eli, who doesn’t like much of anything right now except apples, carrots, rice and tofu, didn’t like the cookies, but his loss. I think they’re great and offer the recipe just as Liz wrote it up:
Jam Today cookies
“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.”
—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
I created these cookies as a way to utilize the jars and jars of marmalade given to me by a friend, but it has become my most versatile, crowd-pleasing cookie. You can make it with dried fruit, with store-bought jam of any kind, or with the homemade jam of your choice. Bitter marmalade is especially tasty, but apricot is a close second, followed by a never-to-be repeated combination of the tail ends of three jars of jam: peach, apricot, and cherry. As an added bonus, this recipe is ridiculously easy to make, and ridiculously easy to double if you happen to be feeding a crowd (or running a bake sale). The results are especially delicious served for tea, but we have been known to eat these cookies for breakfast, too. You got a problem with that?
Preheat the oven to 350° degrees. Locate your 9×9-inch baking pan (glass or metal) and lightly grease the bottom and side.
For the filling:
Use a half-pint jar (1 cup) of your favorite jam
Make a filling by combining 1 cup dried chopped apricots and some water to barely cover (add more if it seems dry while cooking) in a saucepan; simmer till soft.
For the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, cream:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (dark or light, it matters not)
and beat until fluffy. Then add:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal (regular oats, not instant)
½ tsp. salt
and mix well. The resulting dough will be crumbly but moist.
Press a little more than half of the dough into the baking pan. Spread the filling evenly over this bottom layer, then crumble the remaining dough over the top.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the whole surface is bubbly and the edges get a little dark. Allow to cool in the pan for at least twenty minutes before slicing.
Makes sixteen cookie squares. I highly recommend sharing them with friends and neighbors or you will end up eating them all yourselves.
The original recipe behind this idea came from the King Arthur Flour Co baking book. Tonight I am making a version with dried apricots and dried cherries!