Gastronomic Gifts IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers–and a Bigger Prize!

December 18, 2008


[There’s just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays.  This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I’m determined to make at least a few in my kitchen–and thought I’d share my ideas in case you’d like to partake, too.  ]


First, a Menu for Hope update:  As I mentioned last time, Menu for Hope is a fundraiser that continues until December 24th.  Buy tickets at $10 each, and you can bid on any of the fabulous prizes offered by bloggers from all over the world! 

The prize I’m offering, a year’s subscription to Martha Stewart Living, has just been bumped up a notch!  Since so many of my recent cookie creations feature coconut oil, the nice folks at Omega Nutrition have donated a large (one-kilo/2 pound) jar of their Organic Coconut Oil to the prize.  That way, you can convert all those butter-laden recipes in Martha’s mag to healthier versions! 

If you’d like to bid on my prize (a year’s subscription PLUS organic coconut oil), head on over to the main donation page and cite prize code CA 05.  And if you’re not keen on Martha, there are loads of other amazing prizes there as well!

And now, on to today’s Gastronomic Gift. . .

These are the cookies that inspired the creation of My Life in Balance Buttery Spread the other day.  This recipe goes way back in my cookie repertoire. . . waaaay back.  (Did anyone else just have an image of the Friendly Giant pop into their heads?  “Look up. . . . waaay up!”). 

When my sisters and I were still tweens, we’d eagerly await the holiday season because it meant an entire day bake-a-thon with my mom.  The CFO and I would usually be stationed at the kitchen table chopping nuts in an old-fashioned, spring-loaded manual nut chopper (in my twenties, I found one at a garage sale for 25 cents–twenty-five cents!–and have used it on many occasion since, with great success). There’s nothing quite like the visceral satisfaction one gets after repeatedly pumping that windmill-shaped blade up and down inside the glass jar, watching the whole nuts jump and dance like water sizzling on a hot skillet.  Looking at the tiny, uniform crumbs that are created, you can think, wow–I just made that, by hand (and also, “wow, my biceps sure are sore now.”).  And of course in those days, no one had even heard of food processors!

My sister and I also acted as sous pastry chefs, slicing up maraschino cherries, zesting oranges or lemons, souring milk with lemon juice or vinegar, or meting out chocolate or butterscotch chips.  Over at the counter (where the Sunbeam Mixmaster was parked), my mom would cream butter, blend eggs, stir milk and cocoa and flour and then scoop the final product onto ancient cookie sheets that looked like picture frames with their still-shiny silver centers, bordered with the charred remains of cookies past. 

When she was done scooping, Mom would proffer the bowl and wooden spoon, its buttery, sugary amber batter still clinging in spots.  At that piont, The Nurse also joined in for the Licking of the Bowl ritual.  We all agreed that for certain recipes, the raw mixture tasted even better than the final baked product; and so the yield for those cookies was always reduced by about 30% by the time the cookies were done.

When I was finally established in my own apartment some 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from home, I determined I’d uphold the tradition by making my own tins of cookies for friends and colleagues at Christmas time.  cookiebooks To amass a fresh collection of soon-to-be treasured cookie recipes, I’d scour the supermarket checkout each year to purchase the annual mini cookbooks with titles like “Holiday Baking” or “Christmas Treasures” of “101 Cookies for the Holidays”–pamphlets published by Pillsbury, Crisco (gasp!), Betty Crocker, General Mills, and the like.  I’d pore over each page and meticulously mark the recipes I wanted to try with ripped up sticky notes (I mean, why waste a whole one, just as a bookmark?). 

Then I’d set up the ingredients assembly-line style and bake away for the entire day, re-creating the buzz and activity of my mother’s erstwhile home bakery.   Unfortunately, I discovered that the yield of each recipe in my own kitchen was still reduced by about 30% before the cookies were baked (one of life’s unsolved mysteries, I guess).  

These jam-filled turnovers are one of the treats that became a holiday staple back then.  Deceptively simple to make, they embody sleek sophistication with their half-moon contour, fluted edge and glossy, drizzled glaze; and each turnover enfolds a dollop of glistening, fruity filling.  The original recipe called for cream cheese and butter, with a filling  of regular (high-sugar) raspberry jam, its brilliant fucshia glinting with each bite. I subbed coconut oil and silken tofu for the crust (that is, the prototype of the buttery spread), and used slightly less sparkly fillings of Brandied Apricot-Ginger spread or all-fruit strawberry jam.  


Perhaps not as rich as the original, this recipe still results in a very malleable, easily rolled dough that bakes up crispy and even a tad flaky on the edges, filled with bright, sweet jam of choice. 

These treasures are really impressive when glazed, and I’d recommend doing so if you are comfortable using confectoner’s sugar.  I wasn’t happy with the agave-based version I created (it ended up with a texture like chewy candy), but would still suggest brushing these with a mixture of equal parts agave nectar and orange juice or soymilk to provide extra sweetness and a glossy finish to the crust if you don’t glaze them.

Since the cookies are baked on cookie sheets (though mine, of course, are scrubbed meticulously, even around the border), I’m submitting this recipe to Joelen’s Culinary Adventures.  The Tasty Tool she’s profiling this month is Baking Sheets.

Jam-Filled Turnovers



The first word that comes to mind when you see these cookies is “dainty.”  With their fluted edges and delicate shape, these little pockets of sweetness are perfect for a holiday celebration table or as take-away gifts for guests.


© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


19 Responses to “Gastronomic Gifts IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers–and a Bigger Prize!”

  1. Vegyogini Says:

    What adorable little half-moons!

  2. shellyfish Says:

    Oh My Dog The Friendly Giant!!!!!! I just *love* you Ricki! I evidently was always very afraid of his voice when he said that (I was 2ish), but I loved that show, and Friendly? There were also “The Polkadot Door” (of which I only remember the song) and “Mr. Dress-up” which was still on not all that long ago. Oh, youth.
    Now, these little turnovers are beautiful! I wish I could get coconut oil here! That’s amazing that they sent you some – Omega Nutrition people rock!

  3. Shelby Says:

    Those are adorable!!!

  4. Courtney Says:

    Those are impressive! I would love to get one of your gift/cookie tins :o)

    Hahah–my cookbooks are full of ripped sticky notes too! Why waste them?! You can get at least 3, sometimes 4, bookmarks out of each sticky note!


  5. VeggieGirl Says:

    Such adorable turnovers!!

    My cookbooks have TONS of sticky notes.

  6. Claire Says:

    Ooh another wonderful treat! FYI i did make the fudge- with almond butter and cashew butter (they were out of macadamia, didnt’ taste too almond-y) i made them all in cups, the orange, the chunky nut variety, a kind with rum-soaked morello (sour, in juice) cherries in the center, and a coffee flavor to die for. i gave them to colleagues for their gift, and one of my co-workers almost hit the floor when he bit into a cherry one. the coffee flavor- omit the orange peel and mix in 1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals dissolved in very little water (you don’t want to dilute it too much). it’s the same method i use for my mocha buttercream frosting. those are really, really tasty. please try.

  7. Diann Says:

    I have soooo many of the holiday baking magazines – stacks and stacks that I look through every year. I made some apricot filled *pillows* one year (not vegan) that got raves and your turnovers remind me of those. They look just lovely for holiday treats.

  8. melody Says:

    Those look and sounds just lovely!

  9. Ashley Says:

    These look awesome Ricki! And I do the same with ripping up sticky notes (or old receipts or whatever paper is lying around that we don’t need).

  10. My mom had one of those plunger nut choppers, too! I remember being REALLY little, sitting on the floor in the kitchen, chopping nuts while my mom baked. Such funny things we remember as grown-ups!

  11. What an awesome upgrade! Coconut oil is expensive! YAY!

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this post! I’m reading Little Women, so I loved this story about you and your sisters baking with your “Marmee”!

    The turnovers look positively delicious! And so freakin’ pretty!

  12. Johanna Says:

    these look wonderful and I really like look of the drizzled glaze (?) over them.

    Love your memories of cooking with your mum and sisters – I used to help my mum in the kitchen too – and that is an impressive display of cookbooks!

  13. Vegetation Says:

    Such pretty cookies! Yum!

  14. ttfn300 Says:

    i need to get me some coconut oil! i tried a really small batch (6 cookies!) just sub’ing what i had on hand since the grocery store is dangerous when you’re going home in 2 days 🙂 I will try again!!

  15. Pearl Says:

    oh they are SO adorable.. thanks for sharing 🙂 i love the memories

  16. s Says:

    I love giving baked goods as gifts! it’s so satisfying, and so fun. Also I love that there’s snow on your blog post!

  17. Ricki Says:

    Believe it or not, there’s a new dog-training TV show here called Oh My Dog!! (And in my case, it’s true that Dog is my Co-Pilot–or, at least, co-driver!) 😉 I loved Mr. Dressup, too. And yes, I thought the Omega Nutrition people were pretty cool!

    It would be my greatest pleasure to make a tin for you! But you have to come here to pick it up. . . I’ve tried mailing cookies to the US and the results weren’t pretty, believe me.

    Your fudge variations sound stupendous! I really am going to have to try out the coffee AND the cherry flavors! And I’m so glad your co-workers liked them (at least, I’m assuming that’s what happened–they didn’t hit the floor for any other reason!!)

    It is funny, isn’t it? But pretty much all of my baking-with-mom memories are really lovely. I miss it!

    ISN’T THAT A GREAT BOOK????? I always wanted to be Jo, of course. I’m going to email something to you about this! 🙂

    The glaze was more like a jelly, actually–tough to do an agave-based glaze, but I’m working on it! 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear how they work out. Have a great holiday!

    Thanks so much! Happy memories from childhood are always the best.

    The snow is courtesy of wordpress–those wacky guys! 🙂

  18. Celine Says:

    I licked the screen and all I got was cat fur on my tongue. oh, Ricki. the things you make me do.

  19. joelen Says:

    These look wonderful! Thanks so much for submitting them to this month’s Tasty Tools adventure – they’re a great addition to our upcoming round up! 🙂

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