Up until last year, I had always avoided thumbprint cookies. They just looked dry, and I wasn’t a big fan of the jelly filling. I like soft, chewy cookies, usually with chocolate – so the thumbprints to me seemed way too plain. (Anyone who has actually tried one knows this is completely crazy.)
I finally tried my first thumbprint cookie last summer…and, surprise, it was awesome. I thought about that cookie for a long time and looked at a ton of recipes to see if I could replicate it, but I never found a recipe that was quite what I was looking for. The cookies had to have a buttery taste, not too dry and not too soft, with just a slight vanilla flavor to complement the icing.
This is my version of the classic thumbprint cookie. These thumbprints are a basic, simple butter cookie, shaped into a ball and then pressed to create an indent for the filling – I chose to fill these with icing because the combination of the butter cookies with cool, vanilla icing was delicious.
First, cream together your butter and sugar. You want to make sure the butter is at room temperature so it mixes completely into your dough (no chunks). Then add your eggs and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
Add all of your dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix the dough – just make sure everything is incorporated. The dough will be thick.
Drop the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing your dough balls about an inch apart. I used a cookie scoop for this step because I’m Type A and it helped to make sure all of my cookies were the same size. But if you’re more of a free spirit, go ahead and eyeball it. Just try to make your dough balls similar in size so they bake evenly.
Once you have all of your dough scooped out, place your trays in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes. This helps to keep the dough from spreading out too much in the oven. The thumbprint cookies I loved so much had little cracked edges all around that were really good, and chilling the dough helps to keep that shape in the oven.
Bake your chilled and pressed cookie dough at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. These will taste much better if you don’t let them brown too much. They should be just set, and the bottoms should be just slightly golden.
When I took these out, the indent wasn’t quite as deep as I thought it should be, so I pressed the centers down just a little bit with a spoon handle to make sure there was enough room for icing.
Allow the cookies to cool before filling with icing (or jam, or chocolate, or Nutella…whatever you want!).
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- Cream together the softened butter and the sugar.
- Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix until well combined and smooth.
- Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt - mix until just combined. You don't want to over-mix your dough.
- Drop your dough by spoonfuls - I used a cookie scoop - onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Chill the dough for 30-40 minutes to prevent the dough from spreading too far in the oven.
- Press each dough ball with your thumb to create an indent.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
- Once cookies have completely cooled, fill the centers with your favorite icing or filling.