“Dude. You gotta stop being so salty about that.”

I’m driving my son and his friend home from a football game, and they’re talking about an assembly at school that day. Apparently, something irritated my son. He’s been equivocating all evening.

“Get over it,” his friend says. “Stop being salty.”

“Salty.” It isn’t just a taste anymore. (Or a foul mouth.) The boys in my car school me on its meaning:

Salty (adj) — Verbal furor at idiocy.

Huh. Considering the four-letter expletive I hurled at the gasbag on TV last night … I guess I’m “salty,” too. And given my overall state of mind these past weeks, I’d add another sentence to my son’s salty explanation:

Salty (adj) — Verbal furor at idiocy. Can cause heart attack or stroke if not kept in check.

No one wants that. So I turn to a tried-and-true method of soothing my nerves.

I make cookies.

These nutty, buttery, jammy morsels take a tiny bit of concentration to create, meaning there’s no time to dwell on disasters. Roll, pierce, bake, fill … they lend a meditative cadence to the kitchen. They’re sweet, but a healthy pinch of salt in the dry ingredients leaves a briny, crystal-like aftertaste.

Salty, yes. But oh so soothing.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

The original recipe for these cookies calls for hazelnuts and no salt. I used pecans and added kosher salt to the mix.

  • 1 3/4 cups finely ground pecans (or walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt (1/8 teaspoon or slightly more)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the nuts, flour and salt. Set aside.

Mix the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the extracts and beat well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix slowly until you have a crumbly dough.

Using lightly floured hands, roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball and set it on your baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.

Using a finger, poke a hole in the balls of dough, being careful not to go all the way through.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove your pans from the oven and cool the cookies for 2 minutes. If some have spread out and have ragged edges, use a 1 1/2- to 2-inch round cookie cutter to clean them up. Likewise, if the holes have closed, use the handle of a wooden spoon to recreate the indentations.

Place the cooled cookies on a wire rack. Immediately dust with confectioners sugar, then let them cool all the way.

Boil the raspberry jam until it’s syrupy. Carefully spoon 1/2 teaspoon into the indentations. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.