Sunday, January 04, 2009

Split Seconds: A Cookie with Warm Memories

Split Seconds are simplicity itself to make. Do not let the title fool you into thinking that they're "partly homemade" baked things. No, these are butter cookies dotted on top with your favorite jam or preserve and they are delicious in the way only butter cookies can be.

Because my husband and I have a bet on that we will leave desserts alone for an entire six months (I make exceptions for ladies' teas and Easter), today I wave goodbye to baking and sweets for awhile by baking these cookies, and filling the house with a favorite aroma and even nicer memories.

Cooking Collections of Memory

Back in the 1980s I started what became a series of recipe collections, each contained in a bound artist's sketch book, on nice thick paper. Each book was filled over several years and each reflects, by accident, my favorite dishes and menus during that time. Because many of the recipes are accompanied by notes, the results are also an imperfect history: old beaux, sisters, friends, dinners and parties get their time, and later there is a recounting of the evening my husband and I became engaged, and a long account written during September 11.

What I wrote about this recipe, back in book number 1: known oddly enough as Second Cookbook, 1987:

One of my earliest cookie memories. Mom used to make these pretty often, and sometimes I think I can remember her first kitchen, or the one in the first house she and Daddy ever owned. it had red counters, and lots of windows, and red and white checked curtains. One of the counters was like a bar and you could sit on one side, the breakfast nook side, and watch mom cook -- especially I remember helping her bake (i.e., eat dough, pat it or cut it out or lick batter from spoons). [Today's note: I wrote this in the eighties, when being a child wasn't so far back. Now that kitchen, circa 1963-1968, would be a spot I would ooh over as a friendly retro kitchen, with those handmade cafe curtains and linoleum -- Mom, correct me if I am wrong! -- counters with aluminum edging, and half-windowed back door out into a sunny yard with flower beds, and a white picket fence that closed with a chain and cannon-ball weight.]

Now, you can make these into long ropes which you cut into bars, or you can make them into little rounds. Red jam is best -- it looks like rubies.

Mom made them while we lived in Germany, too (when I was around five or six years old).

The cookies, attributed to a Mrs. Karen M. Fellows, come from "Fun-Filled Butter Cookie Cookbook", by Pillsbury.

The Recipe

[Note: My cooking notes are in brackets. The rest is in Mom's words.]

Bake at 350 degree F for 125-20 min.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Sift together

2 c flour [all-purpose white flour; I use unbleached local flour from Wiesenberger Mills]
1/2 tsp baking powder (double acting) [note that this recipe dates to a time when single-acting powder was commonly on store shelves, too]
2/3 cups sugar

Blend in

3/4 cups soft butter
1 unbeaten egg
2 tsp vanilla

to make a dough.

Place on a greased cookie sheet, either in long rolls [which you have rolled in your hands like play dough] or in little flattened rounds.

Make a depression 1/4-1/3" deep, either in the rounds, or [down] the middle of the rolls. Fill depressions with red jam or jelly. Strawberry, or especially rasberry, is best. [Since then I have used other types of jam and today, in fact, I am using a peach jam from Renfro Valley, Kentucky.]

Bake until light golden brown. [Again, about 15-20 minutes, but watch carefully, because butter makes cookies that are a light golden brown move to dark burned brown in what seems like a heartbeat.]

While warm, if in bars [Mom probably meant to write "long rolls"], cut [cookies] into squares. [We always cut them into narrow oblongs, so that they are not so big.]

This evening I will add pictures!


Amy Ballard said...

Thanks for contacting me about sewing on vintage machines! Sorry it took me forever to respond. You can e-mail me at I'm currently writing a novel set in 1909, and the heroine will be doing some sewing on a Singer from that year. I have looked at pictures of them online, but never used a vintage sewing machine myself. I'd like to know essentially how they work and what it's like to use them compared to modern machines. What features do the old ones have? Etc.
Any help is much appreciated! And I love your blog!

widgeon said...

I'm going to have to try this recipe! They sound just like the cookies my great-aunt used to make for me as a child. :D

--Emma Ruth

ZipZipInkspot said...

Dear Emma Ruth,

Oh, neat! It's good to rediscover recipes. I hope these cookie remind you of happy times with your great aunt. When I make cookies the Aunties, as we used to call them, used to bake, just about every time I smile with all the memories they nice bakey aroma evokes.

Very best,

Natalie in Kentucky