Saturday, December 8, 2007


I don't know why these cookies are called kisses. It always makes me think of the cookies that have a Hershey's kiss in the middle. But these have Lekvar in the middle. Lekvar is readily available in the jams and jellies section of many foodstores, especially in the northeast. However, I cannot get it in New Bern, unless I buy the Solo prune filling in the can. Actually, I prefer making my own Lekvar once I found out how easy it is. Anyway, this recipe has been in my file for 30 years, and I got it from a neighbor when we lived in Whitehall, PA. She moved to Bethlehem, PA and I haven't heard from her in years. Joann, if you're out there, your cookies will be remembered forever. These are a basic shortbread cookie and, as such, they are not very sweet. The jam is tart, making this a delightful snack, not overly sweet, but very satisfying. You can substitute any tart jam if you are unable to find Lekvar or are unwilling to make it. Or you can buy Solo prune filling. These are not hard to make, but can get messy. To simplify matters, I spoon the Lekvar into a resealable plastic bag and cut a corner off, then pipe the prune butter into the cookie depression. Otherwise you have to use two spoons and it gets all over your fingers...yuk, yuk, although you can lick it off...yum.


INGREDIENTS: 1/2 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, divided use
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cups finely ground walnuts
1 cup Lekvar or other tart jam

DIRECTIONS: Have all ingredients at room temperature before starting. In medium bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar till smooth and fluffy. Separate eggs. Add the yolks to the sugar/butter mixture and beat till well incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt. Refrigerate dough for one hour or more. (It will keep in fridge for several days.) When ready to bake, take dough out of fridge and let sit on counter for 15-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment. Whisk the egg whites in a small bowl with about 1/4 cup water. Roll dough into 1" balls. (See photo below.) I used my round measuring teaspoon for this and lined up all the balls at once. I had an assembly line going: the finely ground nuts were in a pie plate; the egg whites were whipped with water in a bowl; the Lekvar was in a plastic bag with the corner cut; and the dough balls were lined up.

After you get enough dough balls for one cookie sheet, dip them in the egg white mixture, then drop them on the pie plate with the nuts. The pie plate should hold one cookie sheet full of dough balls, so get them all in there before you start rolling them. Otherwise, you will get nuts in the egg whites when you go back and forth. Roll the balls in the nuts so they are covered all around, then put them on the lined cookie sheets. With your thumb, make a depression in each cookie, and fill with some Lekvar. Bake about 13-16 minutes (mine took 15 minutes) or till cookies are set. When they come out of the oven, pipe some more Lekvar in center of each cookie. (It works better if you do this in two stages; trust me on this one.)

Lekvar filling

INGREDIENTS: 1 10-oz. bag of pitted prunes (2 cups)
1/2 cup apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS: Simmer all ingredients covered on stove in small pot for 1 hour, until very soft and most of water is evaporated, stirring as needed. If necessary, uncover pot during last 5-10 minutes to facilitate evaporation. Remove from heat and mash with fork or spoon. This will keep in the fridge for several months in a glass jar. It's delicious with cream cheese on bagels, toast, muffins, or breads. This recipe will yield approx. 2 cups, enough for 2 recipes of Kisses.

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