Jam Biscuits, Two Ways: Walnut Ribbon Sticks & Dusen Stars

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In the UK, there's a biscuit (cookie) called a Jammy Dodger. I don't know why it's called that, but it's the quaintest, cutest name for a biscuit that I know, so I've always liked them. When we got Holtzmann, her dogwalker gave her a squeaky Jammy Dodger toy which has remarkably remained unscathed over the past six months, and watching her chew on this oversized biscuit is possibly the cutest thing ever. Neither of these recipes are for Jammy Dodgers (which, in case you're curious, are made of a soft-ish shortbread sandwiching a cream and jam centre, with a wee heart cut in the top biscuit for a window onto the sparkling red jam below. Pretty much the most British of all foods).

These biscuits (cookies) are both made with jam (jelly, in American parlance), and though both recipes recommend 'red' jam for festive flair, I think the Dusen Stars in particular would be stellar sandwiched with apricot jam (or whatever other flavour tickles your fancy). When I started making the Walnut Ribbon Sticks, I thought I was in for a treat as the recipe was so easy I could hardly believe it: one recipe of pastry, rolled thin, spread with filling, folded and sliced? Nice. But then about halfway through making them, I realised with a sinking feeling that I had a) never had ribbon candy, b) wasn't so sure what it was and c) neglected to look it up to make sure it was shaped in the way I had assumed. It wasn't. So about half of my walnut ribbon sticks were made as twists, and the rest were (mostly) 'ribbon-candy-shaped,' until I got bored and did the last few as swirls.

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Here's one insanely simple recipe for you and one slightly more complicated though still totally worth it recipe. Make these decorative beauties for your next holiday party and you'll be the talk of the party.

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The verdict:
The Walnut Ribbon Sticks:

3 spoons out of five. If you like palmiers, pastry or pie crust, you'll love these. Unfortunately palmiers are probably my least favourite dessert of all times, so I found these too dry and crumbly for my taste. They got rave reviews from the people I served them to, though, so it's probably more that they're not my taste than that these are an inherently bad recipe.

The Dusen Stars:

5 spoons out of five. These cookies are amazing- not too distant from a linzer cookie but minus the faff of tiny cut-outs in every top layer, and with exactly enough jam to keep the fairly short biscuit from being too dry and bland. They're adorably festive, a cinch to assemble and since each finished one is actually made from two biscuits, they're also heartier than a normal biscuit- so perfect for bringing to your next booze-soaked holiday fête.

one year ago: Crazy Crust apple pie
two years ago: Pumpkin Gingerbread cupcakes

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The recipe:

Walnut Ribbon Sticks

the directions:

Preheat oven to 225C/450F and grease a cookie sheet.
Roll crust into approximate thickness of pie dough (about ¼ inch).
Spread half of dough with jam and sprinkle with walnuts.
Fold crust over filling and roll lightly again- the layers of dough should adhere to each other thanks to the jam, but you don't want the walnuts to break through the dough.
Using a very sharp knife and wiping it clean between cuts, slice into 1/4” wide strips.
Coil the strips like ribbon candy by folding them back and forth on themselves (as seen above), wind into spirals or twist into long ribbons (if you twist into ribbons, make sure you twist them quite tight or they'll unravel in the oven).
Bake 7-9 minutes until light golden brown.
Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack before handling.

the ingredients:

1 recipe double-crust pie crust or 1 package puff pastry (use your favourite recipe- I used Julia Child's pie crust recipe)
¼ c raspberry jam
½ c walnuts, finely chopped (you'll want them finer than shown here so they stay in the dough better)

the recipe:

Dusen Stars

the directions:

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Cream butter until light and fluffy.
Gradually add sugar, beating well until incorporated.
Add flour, vanilla and almonds, continuing to beat well.
Chill at least two hours or overnight.
Roll ¼-inch thick on a floured work surface.
Cut with 2-inch cookie cutter (ideally a star, as the name suggests, but as long as you're doing two of each shape you make, they could be whatever shape you want).
Place on cookie sheet 1-inch apart and bake for 10 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn golden.
Allow to cool slightly, but while still just warm, slather the bottom of one cookie with jam and adhere the bottom of another cookie to it.
Once all cookies are finished, sprinkle with powdered sugar to complete the festive look.

the ingredients:

1 c butter
½ c sugar
2 c flour, sifted
½ tsp vanilla
4 oz ground almonds
Approximately 1 cup Raspberry, currant, or apricot jam
Powdered sugar for dusting