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Classic Thumbprint Cookies


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or other nuts, coconut, sprinkles [or leave plain]
  • 1+ cup Jam or jelly, lemon curd, or 40-48 maraschino cherry halves or wholes, or 40-48 chocolate kisses


  • 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!


This recipe has endless variations! Add food-colour drops or gels to the dough! Swap the vanilla for mint, lemon or almond! Roll the dough balls in coloured sugars (foregoing the eggwhites) before printing and baking! Sprinkle a plain, baked thumbprint all over with powdered sugar (or a mix of powdered sugar and vanilla sugar) before filling! Fill that well with chocolate ganache or nutella or nonpareils! Sky's the limit!