Ever since making my first batch of freezer jam, I have had such a strong urge to make some more. I just reached my last jar of the mixed berry jam that I made two months ago so it was time to make my next batch. During our recent urban foraging adventure, along with some random fruit picking on my daily walks, I managed to acquire a massive amount of sweet yellow Asian pears. I have never had Asian pear jam, but the idea of it sounded like perfection. I came across a recipe for Pear Vanilla jam from Cooking Light and since I had some beautiful vanilla beans, I happily went for it.
The jam itself turned out wonderful. It came out a nice pale yellow color with little deep brown flecks of vanilla. But I admit, I had an ulterior motive when making this: jam sandwich cookies. I had been craving buttery shortbread-like cookies with homemade jam squished in between. And so, I had my well-spent morning in the kitchen. Alice came and joined me for some creative cookie cutting and all turned out lovely.
Pear-Vanilla Freezer Jam: from Cooking Light
4 cups coarsely chopped peeled Asian or Bartlett pears (about 5 large)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 (1.75-ounce) package pectin crystals
4 cups sugar
Place pear in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Place pear, rind, juice, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Stir in pectin. Place pan over high heat; bring to a boil. Stir in sugar; cook 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam from surface; discard. Remove vanilla bean. Scrape seeds into pear mixture; discard bean. Stir 5 minutes to ensure fruit is suspended in jam. Cover and chill overnight.
Refrigerate airtight containers up to three weeks, or freeze up to six months.
Jam Sandwich Shortbread Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Your favorite jam
Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt: add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed after each addition until blended. Stir in vanilla extract. Divide dough into 2 equal portions; wrap each portion in plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll chilled cookie dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place on greased baking sheets. Cut center from half of cookies with a 1-inch round cutter or cutter of your choice.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Spread 1/2 teaspoon jam on solid cookies; top with cutout cookies.