Thumbprint Cookies are a popular holiday cookie made with a shortbread-like dough that is formed into balls and then each ball of dough is rolled in chopped nuts. The name ‘thumbprint’ comes from the fact you use your “thumb” to make an indentation into each ball of dough and then fill it with jam.
I remember helping my mom make these cookies when I was a little girl. Under my mother’s tutelage, I became a Thumbprint Cookie snob. Rolled in coconut? No way. Filled with strawberry preserves? Ack! Back in upstate New York, we always filled ours with red currant jelly, which I understand many Alaskans do as well. These tiny gems are a part of my holiday baking traditions with my own daughters.
Our family recipe calls for a brown sugar based dough and a generous roll in chopped walnuts. This year, we opted to make our Thumbprint Cookies as Alaskan as possible by filling them with a mixture of (sieved) raspberry jam (courtesy of my future mother-in-law) and salmonberry jam (made by Simple Pleasures in Sitka and purchased earlier at the Made in Alaska Festival this fall).The result? A perfect balance of tart and sweet, a ruby red color, in buttery nut crisp cookie shell. Perfection!
2/3 cup salted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam*
1/3 cup seedless salmonberry jam*
In mixer bowl, beat butter on medium speed until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Beat well. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating until well mixed. Cover and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour or till firm enough to handle. Heat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.
Roll in egg white, then nuts. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Press down the center of each ball with your thumb, shaping to form a “cup”, if desired. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown on bottom. With turner, lift cookies onto a cooling rack or sheets of clean, dry newspaper.
Mix jams together. When cool, fill centers with jam mixture. Makes about 28 cookies.
* If you’re making these outside of the Pacific Northwest, you may find this shopping link useful for purchasing deliciously authentic Alaskan salmonberry jam. However, feel free to substitute red currant jelly, plain raspberry jelly or apricot preserves in it’s place!
Copyright Trysha Mapley. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.