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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Newfoundland Jam-Jams


Jam-Jams are a favourite Newfoundland cookie, both homemade and commercially produced.  You can find them in almost any bakery, especially around Christmas time, and they are one of the staples of  Purity Factories, Ltd, a cookie and biscuit company based in St. John's.  

Homemade Jam-Jams are molasses cookies sandwiched together with jam.  Raspberry jam is my favourite but any favourite jam will make a good filling for these little jewels of the cookie jar. 

This cookie recipe is as old as they come.  In the original recipe  the flour measurement is left up to your discretion, reading, "Flour to make a medium stiff dough." but I've done some measuring to make the recipe a little more accurate when making these cookies.  This is a very forgiving dough.  If too soft, add a little flour.  If too stiff, add a few drops of water.  And because this particular dough is egg-free it's perfect for little bakers in the kitchen.  (Some Jam-Jam recipes do require an egg, but not this one.)

When Benjamin, my grandson, was about two and a half years old I was making these Jam-Jams at his house.  He had on his little apron and was helping Nanny.  I gave him a small piece of dough to roll out with his little rolling pin but he was happier eating his cookie dough than rolling it.  Not many of his cookies made it to the oven.  I was busy rolling out another piece of dough and when I turned around he had eaten several of my raw cookies that were waiting to be baked.  What could I say?  Nothing.  I just gave him a hug and kiss and gave him another little piece of dough. 

To make the cookies the dough has to be rolled out and cut with a round cookie cutter.  Some people make their Jam-Jams from 2 plain round cookies and some like to put a hole in the middle of the top cookie, like a doughnut shape.  I'm of the latter group and dutifully cut little holes out of half the cookies before baking.  Sometimes I even make them flower shaped if I'm feeling particularly decorative.

When cooled the newly baked cookies are quite crisp but after over-nighting, sandwiched with jam, in an airtight container they soften up to the correct texture of a Jam-Jam.  Of course, I've been known to eat a Jam-Jam within minutes of being sandwiched together with jam and have had no undue harm come to my person (except my waist-line!).

Just a little note:  The recipe can be made with vegan margarine for a very nice vegan cookie.

Jam-Jams
1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 4 tablespoons of hot tap water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3½-3¾ cups flour, enough to make a medium stiff dough

About 1½ cups of favourite jam.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a very hot oven decrease the temperature to 375 degrees.  The cookie sheets do not have to be greased but may be lined with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream butter, sugar, molasses and vanilla together. Add the dissolved baking soda and mix well.  Add flour, cinnamon and salt and mix until a stiff but not dry dough is formed.  It should roll easily.  Roll out on floured board.  Cut in desired shape.  Bake in oven about 5 minutes being careful not to burn cookies as molasses burns easily.

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before removing the cookies from the pan.  While still warm sandwich two cookies together with about 1 teaspoon of  favourite jam.

Let cookies cool and store in an air tight container at least overnight before eating.  The cookies will soften overnight and become the correct consistency for a Jam-Jam.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutter.  I used a 2¼-inch biscuit cutter.



 
Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.  I threw in the spices with the sugar instead of the flour.  That won't make much difference to the cookie.  Dissolve the baking soda in hot tap water and add to the mixture.  Don't forget the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to make a medium stiff dough. 

You should be able to squeeze the dough together without it crumbling between your fingers.  It should be medium stiff--not sticky, but not crumbly, either. 

Roll the dough out to about ⅛ - ¼-inch thick.  I like a thinner cookie so I tend to roll them thin.  Remember you will be eventually eating two of the cookies sandwiched together with jam.  You can also make these cookies as small or large as you like.  I used a 2¼-inch biscuit cutter to make my cookies. 


If you want a peek-a-boo hole in the top cookie make sure you bake equal amounts.  Cut the holes from the middle of the cookie before baking.  Of course, you don't have to cut out the holes.  They taste just as good without. 

Raspberry jam is my favourite filling in Jam-Jams.  But any favourite jam will be delicious. 

As soon as the cookies are cool enough to handle turn them over and spread the bottoms with about a teaspoon of jam.  Don't spread the jam to the edge as it will spread out when the second cookies is laid on top.

Top with the second cookie and gently press down.  Store the cookies in an air-tight container for several hours--overnight will be perfect to soften the cookies.

You don't have to stick with round cookie cutters.  This flower shaped cookie looks very appealing. 


Where's the milk?  You've gotta have a tall glass of milk with Jam-Jams!  
(OK, OK...YOU can have a cup of tea, instead, if you wish.)


Soft and jammy--Newfoundland Jam-Jams.

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