There's nothing as comforting as food that your Mum made when you were growing up. I can't really define why that is, but perhaps it is because it reminds you of a much more carefree time when someone else did the hard job of making sure that you were fed, clothed and stayed healthy.
Mum often baked for us when we were young to save money - it was cheaper for her to make us treats rather than buy them. Something that often made an appearance in the biscuit tin during my childhood was jam drops, known more commonly as thumbprints in the US. These are shortbread-like biscuits filled with a daub of jam for colour and extra flavour. As a child, Mum often let me help to make the jam drops. My job was to make the thumbprint and fill it with jam. Unfortunately, I often got into trouble for either making the thumbprint too big, or putting too much jam in the thumbprint, or both. Oh well, it was still fun, and I think that I enjoyed "helping" better than eating the finished product back then.
I made jam drops for work last Friday. It seems that other people like jam drops too, because even though mine weren't the prettiest biscuits in the world (I think I needed a little more butter), they went like hotcakes.
The recipe that I used is not Mum's - that lives in her head. This recipe is from Day to Day Cookery by L Downes, my old home economics cookbook. It is as follows:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 3/4 cup self raising flour
pinch of salt
jam of your choice (I used apricot)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease 2 large cookie trays with butter or spray with cooking oil.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, then stir through the vanilla essence. Fold in the sifted flour and salt and mix to form a stiff dough. Roll the dough into balls and place on the cookie sheets, about 2 cm apart. Using your thumb or finger tip, make a hollow in each ball, and fill the hollow with a daub of jam (not too much otherwise it will cook out). Bake the biscuits in the oven until golden (about 15 minutes). Cool the biscuits on the trays. Store in an airtight container.