Philacatessen | Tabula Rasa Cookies

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Those of you read the Jewish Exponent food section regularly know that I’ve been traveling quite a bit this year. As a food writer, my souvenirs invariably swing to the edible, and I frequently carry home sweet delicacies from afar.

This practice has resulted in several jars of yummy spreads gracing my pantry: dulce de leche, calafate jam (a blueberry-like fruit indigenous to the Southern Patagonia region of Argentina), chocolate hazelnut gianduja amnd pear and cinnamon confiture (French jam).

I have also accumulated some locally made jams — I am partial to Fifth of a Farm, a Philadelphia company (fifthofafarm.com/), which manufactures its small batch, all-natural, handcrafted jams, each of which is named for a Philadelphia neighborhood, at Greensgrow Community Kitchen. The jams are sold online as well as at many local farmers markets.

As the jars began to stack up on my shelves, I needed to find a use for their contents. With my kids now out of the house (cue happy dance music), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are no longer consumed regularly here.

I began to experiment with a neutral slice-and-bake cookie that could serve as a canvas for some of these gourmet spreads. After a couple of attempts, I have settled on the following formula, which I have named tabula rasa, Latin for blank slate, cookies.

If you don’t have any jam or Nutella or dulce de leche to slather on, fear not, as these are pretty darn good solo. If properly wrapped and sealed, the dough keeps in logs in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months — just slice off a few discs when the craving hits.

Tabula Rasa Cookies

Makes about three dozen cookies

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Cream together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Divide the dough into two portions, placing each onto a large sheet of wax paper. Form the dough into a long, thin log and roll it up with wax paper. Each log should be about 10 inches long. Place the log inside a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
  3. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line the cookie sheets with parchment.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and slice it into discs about ¼-inch thick. Place them on the parchment and bake them for about 10 minutes until the edges of the cookies are beginning to brown.
  5. Cool completely and serve plain or slather with desired topping, e.g. dulce de leche, jam, Nutella, etc.

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