RED JELLY CUSHION COOKIES

'The Crimson Cushiontop loves the smell of homemade cookies baking in the oven. He particularly loves the chewy red jelly center of these cookies, which he likes to nibble around and leave to the last delicious mouthful. With help from his big sister, the little Cushiontop loves to roll and cut out the dough. Sometimes he makes round ones and sometimes heart-shaped ones.'

He measures out:

1/2 stick of butter, softened

1/2 cup of sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

some soft, runny red jam, either raspberry or strawberry

To mix and bake eight cookies:

1. The Cushiontop beats the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer or food processor until light and creamy. Then he breaks the egg into a cup, beats it well with a fork, and pours half of it into the mixing bowl. He doesn't need the rest of the egg.

2. He scrapes the butter and sugar mixture into a bowl with a plastic spatula. Then he stirs in the flour to form a smooth dough, shapes it into a round ball, and chills it in the refrigerator for an hour or two, until it is firm.

3. When he is ready to cut out the cookies, the Cushiontop heats the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. He sprinkles the counter with some flour. Using a rolling pin sprinkled with flour, the Cushiontop rolls out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick.

Every so often he loosens the dough with a long spatula and turns it to keep it nice and even, sprinkling the counter and rolling pin in between with more flour.

5. With a two-inch round or heart-shaped cookie cutter, the Cushiontop cuts out eight cookies.

It's not possible to get them all out of one rolling, so he squashes the leftover dough into a smooth ball and rolls it out again.

6. He puts the cookies on a baking sheet and presses a hollow in the middle of each with his finger. Then he puts about half a teaspoon of the jelly in each hollow. He bakes the cookies for about fifteen minutes, until golden brown.

7. He takes the baking sheet from the oven, using an oven mitt, and lets them cool for a minute before removing them with a long metal spatula onto a cooling rack to crisp up.

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