Friday, December 24, 2010

Cookies!!! Part 3 (Jam Thumbprints)

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Jam Thumbprints were a favorite from my much younger years, and one of the recipes that was 'mine' to bake in our house.  I had almost forgotten about these wonderful treats until seeing photos of Sabjimata's thumbprint cookies in her blog post, "Christmas Cookies and Holiday Jam!"  This is the recipe I always used from my all-time favorite cookbook, The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  Mine is the 1968 version...

2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
2 slightly beaten egg whites
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup jam (I like raspberry, but the original recipe suggests strawberry or cherry preserves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg yolks, vanilla, and salt; beat well.  Gradually add the flour, mixing well.  Shape into 3/4" - 1" balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in nuts.  Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet.  Press down center with thumb.  

Bake for 17 - 20 minutes.  Cool slightly; remove from pan and cool on rack.  Just before serving, fill centers with preserves.  Makes 3 dozen.  
Some notes/tips of my own for making these cookies:

To keep from having a big mess, I found it easiest to form balls of all the dough first, and then move on to the egg white and nuts.

If you dunk the cookies in the egg white and then in the nuts, the nuts will quickly get very wet and gooey.  I found it better to dip just one side of the dough, then spread the egg white around the rest of the ball with my fingers.  I had the nuts in a wide, shallow bowl, so I set several egg-white washed balls in that bowl, then kind of sprinkled and pressed the nuts onto them.

For adding the 'thumbprint', as you can see in the photo above, I choose to use the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, forming a deeper, more uniform crater.  --Be sure not to go completely through the cookie dough...Leave about 1/4" of dough underneath the indent.  The void will sometimes fill in and become shallow or almost flat when baked.  To keep this from happening, I use my fingers to squeeze the edges up on the cookie, forming more of a cup.  Even so, some of the cookies come out with a less than adequate space for the jam, so with those, I gently press it back down with the back of a clean measuring spoon right after taking them out of the oven.

To put jam in the cooled cookies, we used a 1/4 teaspoon to scoop the jam, then carefully pushed it out in the cookies with another spoon to keep it more under control, and neatly confined to the indent.  As you can see above, even a 6-year-old can do it!  He loved doing 'his project.'


  1. Thanks for all the tips and tricks for making the jam hole. That's the part that's so often missing from published recipes!

  2. It can get messy and aggravating to make these, but I hope those tips avoid the problems and keep people from saying, "I'm never doing these again." They're too good not to make!

  3. Talk about synchronicity! I baked thumbprint cookies yesterday too. Yours looks so delicious! I love how the centers gleam like little jewels. By the way, have you tried a ziploc for the jam? Put some jam in a quart ziploc and snip off one corner. The ziploc acts like a pastry bag. I hope you and your family had a very merry Christmas today!

  4. Great minds think alike. ;-)
    Our spoon technique is fast and clean, so I probably wouldn't bag the jam...I always lose too much that way (the part that sticks to the bag). But I have used a ZipLoc when I don't have a pastry/icing bag for decorating cakes sometimes! In that case it can also be easier than cleaning out the coated cloth bags when I'm feeling lazy or hurried.


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