The idea for these delicate, sugar-dusted sandwich cookies came about as I was brainstorming what to do with a pound of fresh apricots sitting on my countertop. I cooked the fruit into a simple jam featuring freshly grated ginger and an unusual ingredient: balsamic vinegar. Fruit preserves typically contain lemon juice, but any acidic ingredient helps them thicken and set. I didn’t have lemons on hand, so I poured in a splash of balsamic vinegar; the amount is so small that the vinegar’s strong flavor is unnoticeable. The preserves are sandwiched between two buttery, crumbly, almond shortbread cookies, featuring ground ginger for a nice kick.
Apricot Ginger Sandwich Cookies
Almond Ginger Shortbread Cookies
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely ground almonds
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of sea salt
Apricot Ginger Jam
1 lb fresh apricots, chopped into pieces
1 ½ tablespoons water
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or around 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Prepare the jam: Place apricot pieces and water in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low flame until tender. Add sugar and freshly grated ginger, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until a white foam begins to form on the surface. By this point, the color of the jam should begin to darken. Remove from heat, and stir in balsamic vinegar. Set aside to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the cookies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Alternately, prepare one tray and bake the dough in two batches.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, ground ginger, and sugar for a few minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Stir in sea salt and finely ground almonds. Add flour, mixing until just incorporated. Knead one or two times until dough comes together. If dough is too crumbly, add a little splash of water.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface, and roll until approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into circles using 2-inch cookie cutter, and place on prepared baking trays. Bake for around 12 minutes (I baked these in an electric oven; you may need to adjust the time for a gas oven.) Let cool for a few minutes on the trays, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Assemble: Once cookies are fully cool and jam has thickened and set, flip over half the cookies and spread with apricot jam (use as much or as little jam as you’d like.) Place the remaining cookies on top to form sandwiches. Serve right away, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
Yields approximately 16 sandwich cookies.