Preheat the oven to 350°F, line cookie sheets with parchment, and make sure your eggs are separated.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand blender or whisk, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and the 2 egg yolks, and mix until combined.
Mix in the flour and salt until a malleable dough forms.
Gather the dough by the heaping teaspoons and form into 1-inch balls.
Whisk the egg-whites with a fork.
Dip each ball of dough into the egg-whites [unless you plan on leaving them plain] and then roll in the bowl of nuts [or other toppings]
Place the balls about 1-inch apart from one another on the parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Press your thumb deeply into the centre of each ball to form a well. [If you're going to be filling your cookies with chocolate kisses, you might want to use a kiss or the back of similarly sized measuring spoon to ensure your well is large enough.]
Bake 11-12 minutes, until the cookies are just beginning to brown.
If the centres of the cookies have risen a bit after baking, press down into the wells with a teaspoon.
Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for a minute before removing to racks to cool completely.
Fill the thumbprints with about a teaspoon of jam, jelly, or curd, or with a cherry [whole or half] or chocolate kiss.
Cookies may be layered in waxed paper and stored in an airtight container for several days. Freeze unfilled baked thumbprints for up to 3 months!