Food Photography Shame and Jam-Striped Vanilla Bean Cookies

When I’m in the mood to try a new recipe, I play one of two games: one is “What Would Happen If…” and the other, which I tried on this day, is “What’s in the Pantry.” This past summer, I had an unused vanilla bean left over from The Night of the Awful Scones. (So bad! So very depressingly bad.) Since I completely abandoned that scone recipe, I had a vanilla bean without a home.

Vanilla bean jam stripes

I had recently seen a delicious-looking recipe for Jam Striped Lemon Cookies over at Clockwork Lemon, so I made it work for what I had at hand- vanilla beans, strawberry jam, and apricot preserves. While I did them in long strips and sliced them, I think this recipe would also work great as a thumbprint cookie. The cookie is really wonderfully light and buttery and the jam makes them just chewy enough for my liking. I also love that the recipe seems to be very adaptable – I’d love to try the original lemon cookie with raspberry jam, but it held up to my random flavor adjustments quite well.

IMG_3588

By the way, how about those photos, eh? The composition! The angles! The I-obviously-baked-these-well-after-sundown of it all! It hurts me too, trust me. I read/stalk enough other foodie blogs to know what a good cookie photo looks like and I’m not looking at any right now. I’m just taking solace in the fact that I know they’re bad photos. I once heard a very reassuring speech on creativity with a moral that was approximately the following: If you know you suck, at least that means you have taste. You just don’t have the skill to meet your own standards yet. So there’s that. I have style, I just can’t make it happen quite yet. To growth!

Jam Striped Vanilla Bean Cookies (slightly adapted from Clockwork Lemon)

Yield: about 40 inch-wide cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 split and scraped vanilla bean
¾ cup softened butter
1 large egg
1 and ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
Jam of your choice

Stir together flour, sugar and baking powder. Beat in the butter, egg, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract until dough comes together. Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with one ball at a time, knead and squeeze the dough into a rope 12”-13” long. Place on the parchment and flatten into a strip about one inch wide. Repeat with other balls of dough. Using your fingers, make a depression down the center of each strip. Use your fingers to pinch the edges into a wall that can hold the jam, being careful not to make the bottom too thin to hold the jam after baking.
Fill the channel with jam. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are slightly golden.
Slide parchment from the baking sheets and slice cookies diagonally while they are still warm.