almond and jam dinosaur sandwich cookies.

almond and jam dinosaur sandwich cookies.

I know, it’s been shameful, this long, inexcusable silence. You see, this law school thing is just as time- and life-consuming as everyone says it is (it’s also, incidentally, awesome, but that’s another story altogether). And, in the midst of going to class and reading books and writing exams and trying not to freak out all the time and doing my summer job, I managed to let this blog thing go by the wayside for… well… far too long. I hope you can somehow find it in your hearts to forgive me.

getting the baking back together

tastebuds thankfully did not stop working during baking hiatus

On a recent rainy Sunday morning, as I was moping around the house worrying about nothing in particular and wondering what to do with myself, I remembered that, once upon a time, I quite enjoyed baking. “Hm,” I thought to myself. “What if I made some delicious treats?” Not wanting to let this sudden and unexpected surge of baking motivation go to waste, I ran the whopping four steps from my living room couch to the kitchen and started poring through a few cookbooks in search of something pleasing. After getting over my fear that I had completely forgotten how to bake and would end up making something disastrous, I settled on some lovely looking almond and jam sandwich cookies from Elinor Klivans’ delightful Big Fat Cookies.

I perused the list of ingredients, which was quite short and straightforward: flour, salt, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, toasted blanched almonds, and jam. Because it had been so dreadfully long since I’d baked anything, I had to suit up in my rain jacket and (gasp) leave the house, braving the seemingly unstoppable rain, in order to get a few ingredients. I settled for the jam filling on some lovely strawberry-raspberry preserves from Sarabeth’s Kitchen. And, because there was nary a blanched almond in all of Greenpoint, I got some regular ol’ raw almonds instead of the blanched ones. I returned home with my provisions, hoping that my inability to procure blanched almonds wouldn’t end up making the sky fall.

getting down to brass tacks

mammoth cookie is mammoth

Once I had returned from my watery, slippery journey, I got started. Like a good baker, I measured out all my ingredients ahead of time and laid them out in front of me. I sifted the flour and salt together, beat the butter and sugar in my stand mixer, then folded in the vanilla and almond extracts, ground almonds, and the flour. I managed not to forget anything or spill the dough on the ground. Then I wrapped the dough up in plastic and let it firm up for a little while.

After the dough had cooled sufficiently, it was time for rolling and cookie shaping. Now, here’s the thing about this cookie dough: it’s totally delicious, but very, very delicate, and I had a heck of a time getting it to obey my rolling wishes. I had to re-roll and patch the dough with a slurry a few times in order to get it to hold together correctly. If you anticipate having trouble with the rolling out process, I would suggest placing the dough between two sheets of waxed paper and rolling it out that way; it cuts back on the whole dough-sticking-to-the-rolling-pin-and-making-your-life-miserable factor. If you think that’s still not going to be enough, you might consider adding a tablespoon or two of water to the dough at at the final stage, in order to ensure a more sturdy dough.

After I’d gotten the feisty, fickle dough to hold together, I went through our cupboards to look for cookie cutters, only to realize that we don’t have any normal, simple, run-of-the-mill cookie cutters. Instead, we have extra-cool-super-duper cookie cutters, in the shape of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. I know; awesome. But it turns out that my delicate, contrary cookie dough could not hold up to the awesome complexity of my dino-cutters, and most of the cookies we shaped ended up with noses and tails missing due to difficulties with the extraction process. Those prehistoric animals lead a hard existence, I’m afraid. Also, because we didn’t have the dino-cutters in different sizes, we had to cut shapes out of them by hand, in order to provide picture windows for the jammy centers. Eventually, though, everything worked out, and we popped the adorable, war-wounded dinosaur shapes in the oven.

When the cookies came out, they smelled and looked delicious: ever so slightly golden brown and flaky all the way through. I lifted them carefully out of the pan and laid them out on the counter for their final adventure: surviving the jam filling. I spread a little bit of the jam onto each non-cut-out dino and then carefully placed the matching cut-out dino on top. The result was adorable and delectable: a buttery, almondy sandwich cookie with lovely preserves in the middle. I sighed with relief that I had managed to make it through my return to baking relatively unscathed.

toasted almond and strawberry-raspberry jam sandwich cookies.

circle of jam-filled joy

toasted almond and strawberry-raspberry jam sandwich cookies.
(adapted from Elinor Klivans)

all-purpose flour scant 2 cups
salt 1/2 teaspoon
unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup (2 sticks)
powdered sugar 3/4 cup, plus extra for dusting
vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
almond extract 3/4 teaspoon
whole almonds, toasted and ground 1 cup
preserves of your choice 6 tablespoons

Sift the flour and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. In a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and light in color (about 1 minute), stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides as needed. Reduce the speed to low and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and the ground almonds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated (you can also add a tablespoon or two of water here if you think the dough might get unwieldy). Divide the dough into two six-inch discs and wrap each disk in plastic. Refrigerate the dough discs until they are cold and firm to the touch (about 40 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator and place the dough between two sheets of waxed paper. Carefully roll the dough until it is about 12 by 8 inches and about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top piece of waxed paper and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the dough. Use a metal spatula to help place the cookie shapes about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets; set aside the dough scraps. Take the second dough disc from the refrigerator and place it between two new sheets of waxed paper. Repeat the rolling and shaping process with the second dough disc. Gather together all of the dough scraps and repeat the rolling and shaping process. You should end up with about 20 cookies if you make smaller shapes and about 10 cookies if you use larger shapes.

Cut a 1-inch circle or other shape (like a heart or a triforce) from the center of half of the cookies and remove the shapes from the cookies. If you like, you can bake the cut-out holes along with the cookies and eat them as pre-cookie snacks.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for about 18 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown and the tops are firm. Cool for five minutes on the baking sheet, then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a counter or wire rack to cool completely. After the cookies have cooled, turn the cookies without holes bottom side up. Leaving a small edge, spread a teaspoon of jam over each solid cookie. Sift powdered sugar over the cookies with the holes and place them on top of the solid cookies. The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to three days, but I doubt they’ll last that long.

mammoth cutter contemplates his future

photos by the astoundingly sweet kenan.

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14 notes

  1. josh says:

    This post made me incredibly happy. I mean, hungry.

  2. mom says:

    YAY!!! but i would like to say that as wonderful as it is to see you back at this site, i know that it’s just a tease as you’ll be dropping back off into law school oblivion in just another week…ah well……

  3. Liz says:

    Yay you’re back! And I really like that last photo – it reminds me of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which is entirely appropriate for dinosaur jam cookies.

  4. Oh, My, Cate!! These are really adorable. Kenan is a master with the camera. I especially love this last photo with the mammoth-cutter framing you in the kitchen!

    Your cuz’n Annie

    p.s. You’re back to short hair! Adorable.

    • girlcate says:

      Hi, my dear, sweet Annie! We have a lot of fun doing all the pictures and whatnot. I’m so glad you liked the post – keep your eyes peeled, there will be more soon!


  5. mellicima says:

    your website came up as i googled “mastodon cookie cutters.” your cookies look so AWESOME and ADORABLE! where did you get your cookie cutters?

  6. marie st joseph says:

    Where did you find your mastodon cookie cutter?

  7. Amy D says:

    Where did you find your mastodon cookie cutter? I haven’t been able to locate one. Do you remember the company name who made it?

  8. Danielle says:

    I want to know where or how you got that cookie cutter?

  9. I know this was posted a long time ago, but I just came across it. I’ve been looking for cookie cutters of pleistocene animals and saw the mammoth here. Can you remember where you got it? Thank you!!

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