Me, Paris, and the Croissant

My favorite Food Network cooking show star has always been Ina Garten.  I've watched her Barefoot Contessa show when I could catch it on tv over the years. Part of the show's charm is watching her cook in her immaculate naturally lighted kitchen (my dream kitchen) in the huge house on the Hamptons with her adoring husband, Jeffrey. It's like being a guest in her home. Genius.

I heard that Ina loves Paris and has a home there. Ahhhh, Paris. I visited the City of Lights for four days three years ago, and it left quite the impression on me. For one, the Parisian women appeared so put together, so effortless. They glided down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to me, like so many exotic long necked busy ballerinas. It could have been my romanticism of the city and finally being there that took me to that exalted state for the four days. Whatever it was, it was magical. It rained the whole time, but I didn't care. I was in Paris.

The food. Don't even get me started. I ordered a Pain Au Chocolat from a bakery I ran  into the first day, near the Champs Elysees. I still remember the flaky, buttery, dark chocolate first bite. Amazing. Picture a small middle aged Asian woman standing still, eyes closed, reveling in the paper bag grasped in her hand. I must have looked like a drunken tourist standing frozen on that busy street. That's where it all began ... me, Paris ... and that croissant.

Anyways, about Ina. I discovered one of her cookie recipes a few Christmas' ago. I passed out these cookies en mass, wrapped in clear cellophane with pretty ribbons to all my friends and family.  They were so delicious, elegant and well ... Parisian. I can't tell you how many people asked me for the recipe. Light, not too sweet, flaky, and that hit of coconut just sneaks up behind the jam. Bake these and bake a lot of them... you may not have enough to pass around as they'll be eaten up before you get to bag them.

photo courtesy of Food Network.com

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted by Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa Family Style
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

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