Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Sour Cherries

Rochester got hit by Blizzard Stella this week — dumping 26.7″ — the third worst snowstorm in recorded history. Mr. Batch and I are the unusual Rochesterians who like snow and Winter. Probably because we’ve only been through five of them! We still think snow is pretty, love the change of seasons and the hibernation that cold weather brings, and don’t mind shoveling … forces us to exercise when the weather inspires otherwise.

Before moving here, we got fantastic advice: Embrace the Winter. Don’t resent it. Pick a sport or activity and get out into it. Though we haven’t found that activity yet, we LOVE walking around different parts of the city to see how they look covered in snow: up to Highland Park and through Mt. Hope Cemetery, to name a few:

I grew up on the most southern coastal tip of North Carolina where we frequently wore shorts on Christmas. I’ll always remember the first time walking through Ellison Park here in Rochester, and finally understanding the lyrics to the Christmas carols I grew up singing: “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” and “Marshmallow World.”

And just when I was reveling in all of the beauty and replaying holiday songs in my head with new comprehension … in the distance I heard jingling. ***Sleigh bells!!!*** I turned over my shoulder, and there was a horse-drawn sleigh coming toward us!!!!  So that’s what sleigh bells sound like, and that’s how a sleigh glides along in the snow!!!

Through our years here in Rochester, Mr. Batch and I have had opportunity to go out on frozen lakes, which has been another mind-blowing event for this Southern girl. I’ll never forget standing out on frozen Lake Placid in the Adirondacks and thinking “I’m standing on water!  We’re walking on water!” (hover over images to reveal captions)

And then there was the year when temps hovered for a month below zero, and our friends Lynne & Allen invited us to walk on frozen Irondequoit Bay with them. It was just uhhh-mazing to li’l ol’ me:

Possibly one of my favorite parts of the snow in Rochester, is that the city plows the sidewalks! Not only is it a fantastic service (thank you, tax dollars at work!) but watching the workers clear the sidewalks is always fun! Our favorites are the steam-punk looking tractors:

This tiny truck, which seems more like it brushes and then throws the snow out of the way, is also fun:

To this day, I get excited when I hear the prediction of snow. It’s almost a visceral response, that I equate to having grown-up in an area where snow is SO rare. I remember once in 2nd grade, a fellow classmate yelling out “It’s SNOWING!” And all 30 of us audibly gasping and running to the window to gawk in wonder. This mysterious, frozen precipitation swirling out of the sky that we’d heard about, but rarely experienced.

One of my closest friends is a New Englander, Erika, and she feels the same way about snow as I do, which I think is promising that even she still likes it. She gave me valuable advice when we first moved here of what snow boots to buy, long underwear, water-proof gloves for shoveling, mini-shovel and other items to keep in the car in case we got plowed-in or stuck, etc. After she saw how well I “took” to snow, she surmised, “I always knew you were a misplaced Yankee!”  So true!  😉

With all of this said, even *I* am looking forward to Spring and Summer. I am getting excited to get out and pick fruit in the nearby orchards. And to preserve and freeze the produce from the nearby farm-stands and farmers’ markets. Opening bags of frozen raspberries and slices of peaches and smelling their intoxicating perfume (even when they’re frozen!), brings me *right* back to the summer months. So I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been doing with what I “put away” last year.

For breakfasts, I’ve been enjoying my “frittata”, made with G&S Farmstand broccoli that I blanched and then froze, and pesto that I made from the Lovely Lisa’s basil from her garden, and served with a Slow-Roasted Tomato half (also made with tomatoes and herbs from her garden):

Kevin West’s Sour Cherry Preserves, made with cherries I picked at G&S Orchards, shaped into a heart (awww) and sent on a pancake with Mr. Batch to work on Valentine’s Day:

A lovely salad made with yellow wax beans from the Rochester Public Market, pickled into Kevin West’s Dilly Beans — added to chopped red cabbage, tomato, green onion and cucumber. We poured just the brine over the salad and it was scrumptious — no oil (low fat!!!) needed:

And on the day of Blizzard Stella, I thought it was time to remedy the cookies I’d made that spread so unexpectedly:

I’m pleased to now present a workable recipe for Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Sour Cherries:

Yield: 36 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar

Stir ingredients together in a large bowl and beat air into the mixture to make it light and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with a mixer.

  • 2 egg yolks (egg whites reserved, in a separate bowl)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Add to butter-sugar mix and beat until light and fluffy

In a separate bowl, combine the following dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal (I buy this at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Add dry ingredients slowly to butter-sugar-egg mixture, stirring only enough to combine (don’t incorporate more air into mixture at this point).  Cookie dough will be stiff. Roll into walnut-sized balls.

  • 3/4 cup toasted almonds, fine-chopped by hand or in food processor

Dip cookie ball into egg white and then roll in chopped toasted almonds. Space about 2″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350-F for 15 minutes, rotating pan half-way through baking, to ensure even baking in case your oven has hot spots. Lift a cookie to check for doneness — if cookies are not golden-brown on bottom, might bake for another 5 minutes.

Once cookies are out of oven, press the back of a spoon or small scoop into each mound, to make indention. Then, once cookies are cool, fill with sour cherry preserves or other favorite jam … or even lemon curd. Yum!

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