Since it would be unheard of to visit Grandma Ellen and not be offered these scrumptious cookies, I'm going to try to do the next best thing. Here is the recipe copied word for word as she wrote it for my mother. (Notice how intuitive the instructions are. Just how much flour? She definitely is an experienced baker assuming she is talking to another experienced baker, who knows what this dough should look like by sight and feel.)
I don't believe my mother ever made these cookies, and I know I haven't. It is probably the highest compliment a cook can give another cook when, even after receiving a coveted recipe, the recipient doesn't replicate it, because of a nagging uncertainty as to whether it will be made as well. I'm going to try someday, but I indeed wonder if I can come close to that 'special something' that is the signature of every cook's 'best dish'.
The clearest way I can describe these delectables is to say: imagine a shallow pie made out of flaky shortbread, with a spoonful of apricot jam in the center. These are similar to a thumbprint cookie, but because they are made with two cookies pressed together, they have a feeling of biting into a really dainty pie. (The cookie jar above is very similar to the one I remember on her yellow formica table.)
Apricot Filled Cookies from Ellen Olson
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour or sweet cream, or half of each
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. lemon zest
Flour to make not too soft dough. Roll out and bake at 350 degree oven, about 15 minutes.