Thumbprint cookies are a classic way to incorporate homemade preserves into a simple dessert and a favorite of mine. Funny thing though. In the nearly three years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve never managed to post a recipe for this sweet little cookie.
Then, about a month or so ago, a review copy of The Cookiepedia landed in my mailbox. It’s a charming book, full of beautiful photos and approachable recipes. The recipes are divided by Buttery, Chocolatey, Fancy, Fruity, Spicy and Nutty/Seedy and I hoping to bake from them all. But very best of all, it contains a VERY nice looking thumbprint recipe. It was kismet.
Now, before any of you chime in to say that you can’t stand gloppy thumbprints of our collective youth, remember that the quality of the cookie is entirely related the quality of the ingredients you start with. A thumbprint is essentially a lightly sweetened butter cookie that gets the bulk of the flavor from the jam you spoon in. If you use crappy butter and characterless jam, your cookies will be sub-par.
However, if you use good butter and excellent, homemade jam, your cookies will be exceptional. I used sweet organic butter and two jams from last summer. Half the cookies were filled with chunky apricot jam and the others were filled with sour cherry preserves. The sour cherries made a particularly good cookie filling because they held together really well.
You start these cookies by creaming 1 cup unsalted butter with 2/3 cup granulated white sugar. When it’s nice and fluffy, add 2 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract*.
Sift together 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix to combine. At first it will look like there’s no way that it will come together to form a moist dough, but I promise, it will happen.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Scoop dough out into 1 tablespoon sized balls (a cookie scoop makes this MUCH easier. I also use the same one to portion meatballs on a regular basis. It’s a handy tool).
Roll the dough into balls and press a hollow into the center of each cookie with your thumb (dip your thumb into a dish of water every third or fourth cookie to keep the dough from sticking).
Dollop approximately 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are just barely browned (the recipe actually says that they shouldn’t be browned at all, but I like just a bit of color on my thumbprints). Makes between 3 1/2 and 4 dozen cookies.
Eat and enjoy.
*The original recipe does not call for vanilla, but I added it because I’m a vanilla freak.