Browned Butter Thumbprint Cookies

I make these thumbprint cookies every year adding whatever homemade preserves I have left in the house. The shortbread is browned butter shortbread that lends the cookie a sandy delicious texture. Because I live in the states, I buy European butter which has a higher percentage of butterfat than US brands, which creates a beautiful flavor and texture in shortbread. Enjoy! 20131215-171340.jpg

2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt, slightly rounded
1/3 cup fruit preserves (your choice)

Melt butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter turns golden with a nutlike fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a rich caramel brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (Butter will initially foam, then dissipate. A thicker foam will appear and cover the surface just before butter begins to brown; stir more frequently toward end of cooking.) Place pan in refrigerator until butter solidifies. Beat in sugar and vanilla.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and stir into butter mixture until a dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
Press a piece of dough into bowl of cookie scoop, then slide out and place, flat side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. (Dough will feel crumbly, but will become cohesive when pressed.) Make a thumbprint in center. Continue forming cookies and arranging on sheet. Bake cookies until just pale golden, 8 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on sheet on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Spoon a teaspoon amount of preserves in the thumbprint.Continue with remaining cookies and preserves, then let stand until set, about 45 minutes. Transfer cookies to an airtight container.

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