I love how the holidays bring people together! It’s such a great opportunity to gather friends and family. We all come together to eat fabulous food, reminisce about the past, and look forward to what the New Year has in store.
I was raised in a family that loved to play host to these and many other festivities, so the efforts that go into entertaining are very familiar to me. The problem is, those efforts can grow exponentially – especially at this time of year, when people feel inclined to celebrate in more formal or extravagant ways. Of course, that is fabulous if you’re still enjoying yourself. But if your prep overshadows the true reason you are hosting an event – to enjoy time with people you care about – something has to give! (That’s when Ryan tells me, “Amanda, this was supposed to be fun, remember?”) Learn from me: be honest with yourself about what is really necessary and valuable. Do you really need to make a four-course, sit-down dinner with centerpieces you handmade from that link on Pinterest? Probably not. Instead, I propose to you my favorite type of event: an evening of hors d’ouevres.
I love hors d’ouevres for so many reasons! Your event can be semi-formal or very casual. Small bites mean fewer dishes to wash. It also means that you can introduce variety – so even your most selective eaters can find something they enjoy. Hors d’ouevres give people the freedom to move around and connect with other guests. And, if your guests offer to contribute, you can easily accept without re-configuring your meal. Have I won you over yet? Good. Now here’s an appetizer to serve at your next evening of entertaining: Savory Parmesan Thumbprints.
It’s hard to explain what you’re getting here, because you look at these and think “Oh, I’ve had thumbprints before. Those are cookies.” Well, “yes” and “no.” These are a variation on the shortbread cookie, but they have a Parmesan cheese component that offsets the little bit of sweet. You make the cookie portion, then you choose a savory onion jam filling to offset that cheesy bite, depending on which savory flavors appeal to you most: a bit of bacon, tomato and rosemary, or sweet apricot. Here’s how to do that.
Phase One: Making your thumbprints
Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. While the oven is heating, cream together the softened butter and sugar.
Add the flour and Parmesan cheese. Beat at a low speed until thoroughly combined.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them a couple of inches apart on the prepared pans. Press your finger or the end of a wooden spoon handle into each cookie to make an indentation.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely.
Phase Two: Bring on the jam!
There are three different savory jams that you can pair with these cheesy bites. One batch of jam is enough for one batch of thumbprints.
If you typically gravitate toward slider mini burgers, the Bacon Balsamic Onion Jam is for you! Start by chopping the bacon and placing it in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned and cooked.
Add the chopped onions and continue cooking another 3-5 minutes or until the onions are softened.
Add all of the remaining ingredients: water, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and Dijon mustard. Mix together and bring to a low boil.
Continue cooking 25-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Store any leftover jam in the refrigerator.
If you usually choose Italian flavors, Tomato Rosemary Onion Jam may be your ideal thumbprint topping. To make the jam, begin by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes or until slightly softened.
Add the drained tomatoes, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary.
Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated and the jam slightly thickened. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon rosemary. Store any leftover jam in the refrigerator.
If you prefer a sweet, fruit-and-cheese type appetizer, choose the Apricot Onion Jam. Begin by melting butter in a saucepan (I used a skillet, because it’s what I had available). Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened.
Add the chopped dried apricots, brown sugar, honey and salt.
Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until almost all liquid is evaporated and jam is slightly thickened.
Phase Three: Put it all together
Fill each cooled thumbprint cookie with a teaspoon or so of your selected jam. Set them on a platter and allow your guests to sample a tasty bite of Savory Parmesan Thumbprints at their leisure.
Whether you are the host or a guest, these Savory Parmesan Thumbprints are a unique hors d’oeuvre that will wow your guests this holiday season with their depth of flavor. Share them with your loved ones, then rate this recipe.
Amanda is paid to write for the Recipe Buzz® Blog.