So today I returned home from a surprisingly sunny Edinburgh to a dreary rainy Rutland and what better way to spend an afternoon than baking fresh buttery cookies huddled up in the warmth!
Before I headed up to Edinburgh, I succeeded at procrastinating over revision by making a batch of rhubarb and vanilla jam with a whole bunch of rhubarb my mum's friend kindly gave us.
Stringy rhubarb jam is a joy.
And so, I put this tangy rhubarb jam to use, sandwiched in between some homemade stem ginger and vanilla cookies.
These are the sort of cookies I used to love as a child... a sort of "glammed up" jam ring if you like!
The other day I walked into White Stuff and their chandeliers were made out of party rings- a designer after my own heart!
The rhubarb jam is a one pot deal that is a great way to use up the extra home grown rhubarb that is being passed from allotment to neighbour at this time of year and as well as being made into these yummy cookies, it's great dolloped over natural yoghurt and granola or swirled into hot and creamy rice pudding!
140g icing sugar
250g soft unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
50g crystallised stem ginger
1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
325g plain flour
For the jam:
400g jam sugar
2 tsp vanilla paste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
To make the jam:
1. Put a small plate in the freezer.
2. Cut the leaves off the rhubarb and cut the stalks into 2cm chunks.
3. Put the rhubarb in a large heavy based pan with the sugar and vanilla paste. Heat on a low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.
4. Boil for approx. 10-15 mins, skimming off the bubbly residue with a spoon as you go. (The fruit should turn soft.)
5. Test for the setting point by spooning a little of the jam onto the chilled plate. After 1-2 mins, push your finger through the jam and if the surface wrinkles slightly then the jam is set. If it's not ready, keep boiling the jam for 2-3 minute intervals until set. (On a sugar thermometer, the temperature of the jam should reach 105C)
6. Once the jam is ready, remove from the heat and let it cool completely before spooning into sterilised jars.
I sterilise my jars by filling them with boiling water and then emptying them and putting them upside down on a baking tray in a warm oven until dry.
The jam will keep in sealed jars for about 6 months in a cool, dark place.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the soft butter, icing sugar, vanilla paste, egg yolk and chopped stem ginger until blended and smooth.
Add in the plain flour and mix again until it forms a soft dough. Using your hands form the dough until two balls and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Using two different sized cutters, cut out an equal amount of large hearts and then large hearts with small heart shapes cut out of the middle. Arrange on a lined baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.
Once baked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Whilst still slightly warm use a teaspoon to spoon a little rhubarb jam into the centre of the whole hearts. Then sandwich the jam together with a topping heart.
Dust with icing sugar.