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Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies


Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies


Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies Standing on a dining room chair to reach the kitchen counter top, swamped by my grandmother’s floral apron, and covered head to toe in drifts of white flour, at three years’ old I felt important and grown up. But first my grandparents and I would visit art galleries, going for afternoon tea (lemon cake for me, always), sitting on the top deck of the bus, drawing, painting, drinking more tea, and then, finally, at the end of the day, my grandmother would let me help her bake her oat and ginger cherry-bejewelled cookies – what I knew and still know as “Granny Biscuits”.  They are still in ready supply whenever I visit my grandmother’s house, and are as chewy, oaty and delicately sweet as they’ve ever been.

Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies



My grandfather possessed a dangerously sweet tooth, and, as I’ve previously mentioned, was inclined to satisfy this without regard for moderation.  He would sneak into the larder and consume an entire box of glace cherries.

Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

This trait has wound its way down into my family. I name no names, but once the plastic seal has been broken, glace cherries mysteriously disappear at a rapid rate.  Although I admit I have, at several low points in my life, spooned jam without any justifying bread straight into my mouth, the general jam supply in my household is a more reliable presence.

Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint CookiesSo when recently I came to press the cherries into the Granny Biscuits (an essential step), and found there to be none, jam was a delicious substitute.

Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe is further adapted with coconut replacing oats to provide a more even coating and a beautiful golden crunch once baked.

You can use whatever jam or marmalade you desire – strawberry and apricot are two of my favourites.

Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients (Makes 25-35 approx.)

350g unsalted butter, at room temperature

200g caster sugar

2tsp vanilla extract

Zest of ½ lemon

½  tsp salt

350g white spelt flour

1 egg, beaten with 2 tsp water

200g desiccated coconut

100g strawberry jam

100g apricot jam


2 baking trays lined with baking parchment



1.)    Preheat oven to 180˚C.

2.)    In a food mixer fitted with the paddle, or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt together until fluffy and pale.

3.)    Sift in flour and mix together until fully combined and a soft dough is formed.  Flatten the dough into a roughly 2 cm thick disk, wrap in baking parchment, and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or the fridge for ½ hour.

4.)    Roll the dough into 30g spheres (roughly 3 cm in diameter), dip each one in the beaten egg and then roll in the coconut.  Space the spheres at least 5 cm apart on the baking sheet.

5.)    Press your thumb in the middle of the spheres to create a teaspoon- sized indent.  Fill the indent with a teaspoonful  of the jam of your choice.

6.)    Place in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and the coconut turns golden.  Allow to cool and serve.

Coconut & Strawberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies


Tarte Aux Nectarines


Tarte Aux Nectarines


Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe I’ve been asked several times in the last couple of weeks what my blogs are about, what my angle is, which niche I am filling, what the selling point is.  So here it is: there is no niche.  Niches are overcrowded and limited places in which to write.  To me, food is a form of communication, even, to some extent, representative of character.  So  why should I pin myself down to some of the so-called niches in which other bloggers have incarcerated themselves?


Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

Healthy cooking blogs, for example, seem to be proliferating at the moment, or so they call themselves, but what they are promoting is not cooking, nor is it necessarily healthy (or particularly interesting) – I’ve seen enough versions of green smoothies to make me want to down a packet of muscovado sugar (it tastes really good on its own, by the way).

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

I’m also sick of reading and hearing about avocado-based baking.  You can try to convince yourself that it tastes good. It does not.  It tastes rubbery, and bland, and makes me want to retch.  Another example is cauliflower pizza.  If you want pizza HAVE IT.  If you’re worried about its calories/fats/sugars/carbs/GI/salt, then don’t eat it.  If you’re desperate, have it in moderation. And if by mistake on purpose you eat the whole thing and it was really delicious, and you feel guilty, then just don’t do it again for a while.  Do not try to replace that experience with cauliflower as it simply does not work.  I’ll tell you the truth now: cauliflower does not equal bread. It doesn’t matter how small you grind the cauliflower, how tightly and agonisingly you squeeze out the liquid, and how densely you pack it into a tin, it does not turn into bread. Plus the amount of mozzarella you have to add to make it hold together undermines the whole attempt at making it “healthy”.

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

Baobab dust, acai capsules, psyllium husk powder - these are not what cooking and baking are about.  They will not be included in my recipes unless they add flavour. And even then, at £10-£15 for a thimbleful, it’s not worth it.

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

Turn away now if you’re looking for a fad.  As I have said before, gluten-free baking is for coeliacs only. Just because it says “free” doesn’t mean that it liberates you or your spare tyre. In fact, you’re probably adding another one by eating it as it shoots blood glucose levels sky high, above even those of wheat.

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

So to conclude, I’m not going to slot into any niche like the Priapus statue in Newby Hall.  The blog is to be viewed in the round and the recipes are for bold, modern and flavoursome cuisine.

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

This recipe destroys the common misconception that pastry is hard to make, and combines with the nectarine topping just a hint of Triple Sec  to add subtle tang.  Very little effort is involved, but the result is impressive.

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe




280g plain flour

1 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

170g cold unsalted butter, diced

125ml cold water



4 nectarines, halved, destoned & sliced horizontally to 3-4mm thickness

100g caster sugar

60g cold unsalted butter, diced

¼ tsp salt

½ cup of smooth apricot jam

2 tbsp Triple Sec


Sheet tray lined with baking parchment


Recipe adapted from Ina Garten


Pastry Method

  1. Blitz flour, sugar and salt in a blender to combine, then add the butter and pulse briefly about 10 times until the mixture turns to pea-sized pieces.
  2. Pour in water and blitz until the dough begins to come together.
  3. Make it into a chunky disk and wrap in clingfilm/baking parchment. Place in freezer for half an hour

Construction method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  2. Roll out the pastry to a roughly 25x35cm rectangle, slicing off the edges to make it a clean rectangle.
  3. Arrange the nectarine slices, slightly overlapping, in a diagonal down the middle of the tart then continue with rows on either side.
  4. Sprinkle the cubed butter and sugar and salt over the nectarine slices and bake in centre of an oven for 40 minutes or until crisp and golden. Check about half way during the baking time whether the pastry has become puffy. If so, simply cut slits in it to let the air escape.
  5. Once the tart is ready, heat the apricot jam together with the Triple Sec and brush it all over the tart, including all the nude sections of pastry.

Tarte Aux Nectarines - Recipe

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