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A Day at the Beach and Thumbprint Cookies with Olallieberry Jam

June 24, 2010

Today was a day that didn’t go as planned, but in a good way.  We meant to ride our bikes, as is typical for us on a Thursday morning, but in the end my husband suggested that we spend the day on the coast.

And what a fun day it turned out to be.  We walked on the beach, along the cliffs, on the dunes, took pictures of flowers and even rescued a bicycling trio who decided that their bikes were no match for the headwinds on Highway 1.

Although it wasn’t sunny and warm on the coast today, a lazy day is just what the doctor ordered.  Next week will mark the beginning of our summer travels and visiting friends/family so it was nice to have some downtime.  Besides, I never turn down an invitation to be near the ocean…never.  Hot day or cold, foggy or clear, it doesn’t matter.  There’s something about walking on the sand and looking at the vast expanse of the blue/gray/green ocean that I never tire of.

The path along the dunes...

Almost there...

Then we get to this beach and have it all to ourselves.

An alternate view...

We actually went beach-hopping, visiting three others besides this one, but my photography is still inconsistent and I played around with the aperture and shutter speed.  Sadly, I had to reject the other images.

After our last beach stop, we stopped by Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport (about 35 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 12 miles north of Santa Cruz).  I thought I might pick some olallieberries to make jam for the first time but I couldn’t resist just picking up three jars instead.

Here are three varieties you don’t see very often.  All three are crossbreeds of berries that you might be familiar with:

  1. Tayberry – Cross between a blackberry and a raspberry
  2. Loganberry – Same origins as a tayberry but sweeter and larger
  3. Olallieberry – Cross between loganberry and a youngberry (which is a cross between a blackberry and a dewberry)

Whew, did you get all that?  Olallieberries were first developed in 1935 in Oregon.  Their name is derived from the Chinook word for berry.  If this is correct then aren’t they, in effect, “berryberries”?  Just wondering.  At any rate, the berries have never been productive in Oregon and they are primarily grown here in California.  Good for me!

An artichoke like I've never seen before

Before finally heading home, we decided to stop by a roadside coffee shop for some tea.  Along the way, we met this flowering artichoke, as well as the cycling trio I mentioned earlier.  It was early afternoon by this time and the wind had picked up along the coast.  The three riders were twenty five miles away from their car so the couple asked us to give them a lift to their car while their daughter stayed behind with their bikes.

We don’t normally do this but my husband and I understand how hard it is to continue riding when you’re tired.  We would appreciate the same courtesy extended to us if the roles were reversed.  In the end, we exchanged contact information and considered ourselves two friends richer.  We not only got great tips about cycling all over Switzerland but we also now have an open invitation to visit them in southern California.

When we finally arrived home, I couldn’t resist making something with the jam.  I wasn’t willing to wait until breakfast tomorrow morning to have a taste so I thought to make thumbprint cookies.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I’m not a big cookie baker but my desire to enjoy the jam eclipsed any reservations I had about another cookie recipe.

I was very pleased with the results.  The cookies were very easy to make.  I liked the powdery texture of the confectioner’s sugar against the crumbly, buttery, slightly grainy cookie and the sweet/tart olallieberry jam.  The jam is a low-sugar variety–just the way I like it.  The berry flavor was as deep as the red-violet hue of the jam and satisfied my craving quite nicely.

If you are ever in the area, here’s more information about Swanton Berry Farm.

Thumbprint Cookies with Olallieberry Jam

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:  From My Home to Yours

  • 1 3/4 cups finely ground hazelnuts (I used almonds)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • About 1 cup jam

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Whisk together the ground nuts and the flour.  Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed (using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add both extracts and beat until blended.  On low speed, gradually add the nut/flour mixture and mix only until it is incorporated into the dough.

Measure a teaspoonful of dough and roll it between your palms to form a ball.  Place each ball two inches apart on the baking sheets.  Using your thumb or a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon like I did, press into the center of the ball to create a well.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, remembering to rotate the baking sheets halfway through the cooking time.  This will ensure even cooking.  When the cookies are done they should be only slightly colored.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Bring the jam to a boil over low heat  and fill the wells in the cookies with the hot jam.  Cool to room temperature.

Note: This recipe is supposed to make 60 cookies but I got 75.  I guess mine were a lot smaller than Ms. Greenspan intended.  Mine were finished baking at the 12-minute mark.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 10:40 PM

    Your thumbprint cookies look amazing. I adore Half Moon Bay and the surrounding areas. When we were little we would go to my Grandmothers house and pick Olallieberries. It was always one for the bucket and one for our mouth. 🙂

  2. June 24, 2010 11:03 PM

    these looks amazing

  3. June 24, 2010 11:11 PM

    These cookies look amazing! They could easily have come from a professional kitchen. And I loved hearing about all these unique berry hybrids. What a beautiful post! Such stunning landscape and such scrumptious food!

  4. June 24, 2010 11:42 PM

    I’ve never heard of any of these berries! Need to keep my eye open next time for them… I have such a soft spot for thumbprint cookies!

  5. June 25, 2010 4:48 AM

    Beautiful pictures!! I had never heard of that berry before this week, now I’m seeing it more and more. That artichoke is gorgeous and your cookies look so very very good!

  6. June 25, 2010 5:34 AM

    I had never heard of tayberries or olallieberries (loved the berryberries!). I bet that jam tasted fantastic. Your cookies look professional, even if you don’t bake cookies often!!

  7. June 25, 2010 6:58 AM

    Wonderful! These cookies are just perfect on that beautiful wooden tables (and even more perfect in our bellies!)… almost like multiple homages to yesteryear.

  8. June 25, 2010 7:09 AM

    We discovered the Swanton Berry Farm during our latest roadtrip – and I brought back some of their Olallieberry jams, too. We don’t get these berries here in Germany, therefor I was especially excited!

  9. June 25, 2010 7:09 AM

    I’m sooooo jealous that you have beautiful beaches so close! As much as I love the mountains where I live, I think I love the beach more. Your pictures are stunning! Thumbprint cookies are one of my favorites, but I’ve actually never made them. I think all your talk about jam just gave me the incentive I needed, though. 🙂

    • June 26, 2010 5:20 PM

      Stephanie, don’t get me wrong. I love the mountains, too, but there’s just something about the ocean… 🙂

  10. June 25, 2010 7:51 AM

    These cookies look wonderful!

  11. June 25, 2010 9:40 AM

    Beautiful post! I enjoyed your photographs of the coast, it is lovely isn’t it? Your thumbprint cookies are beautiful and perfectly photographed:-)

  12. June 25, 2010 9:43 AM

    Everything about this post is perfect: the pictures of the beach, the little, plump and fruity cookies… Good work! Wish I was there.

    — Lauren, Lauren’s Little Kitchen

  13. June 25, 2010 10:43 AM

    These cookies look lovely. This is the first time I’ve heard of any of these berries, so thanks for sharing!

  14. June 25, 2010 11:29 AM

    So pretty and I love the name of the jam, fun!

  15. June 25, 2010 3:11 PM

    Beautiful cookie presentation and recipe!

  16. June 25, 2010 3:14 PM

    It’s nice when a day at the beach ends in cookies. GREG

  17. June 25, 2010 10:25 PM

    I think your photos look great! And the cookies…well, thumbprints are a true favorite!

  18. June 26, 2010 12:49 AM

    Wow, what a fun and full day! Discovering new jams, spotting humongous artichokes, playing along the shore, and making cookies, too! What a wonderful day! The cookies look beautiful.

  19. June 26, 2010 3:32 PM

    Oh I loved this post. Starting out with all the beach photos brings back fond memories of my last trip up near Big Sur… Ah, so beautiful. Then, WOW I have never really seen an artichoke flower!!! Looks so cool! And then finishing it all up with those lovely thumbprint cookies. Just delicious, thanks so much for sharing, and I hope you have more beautiful days just like this one! 😀

    • June 26, 2010 5:27 PM

      Thanks, Amanda. Big Sur is definitely awesome! Wasn’t the artichoke flower great? I would have missed it if my husband hadn’t pointed it out to me. 🙂

  20. trissalicious permalink
    June 27, 2010 4:38 AM

    Fantastic pictures of the beach! And your thumbprint cookies look delicious – never heard of olallieberries before – but that sounds gorgeous.

  21. June 28, 2010 3:08 AM

    The photos are amazing, but your cookies look sumptuous !!
    My mother in law makes her own raspberry and black berry jam will be using one of the batches to make these cookies !

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