Classic Thumbprints

classic thumbprintsThumbprint cookies are a bakery classic. I’ve had some legendary thumbprints at excellent bakeries, fabulous creations that are both tender and appropriately dry, studded with finely chopped nuts and topped with delicious icing. This cookie, I daresay, could compete with such treats.

Adapted from the King Arthur Flour thumbprint recipe, these cookies were an enormous hit in my office on Monday, when my colleagues and I had a little holiday gathering. Next time, I’m going to try filling them with a blob of buttercream frosting, which I think would be delicious…but you can certainly go with a traditional jam filling if you like. No matter what, you’ll have a delicious cookie.


For the cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
  • About 1 cup very finely chopped pecans

For the icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • About 2 tablespoons milk
  • Red food coloring


Separate eggs and let whites stand at room temperature while you prepare and chill the dough.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and salt.

Add the almond flour and 2 1/2 cups flour, beating well to combine. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour a few tablespoons at a time, adding just enough to make the dough come together. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place egg whites in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until foamy.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls. Dip in egg whites, then in finely chopped pecans, and place on the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Make a deep thumbprint in the center of each cookie.

Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool completely before filling.

To make the icing, combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl, stirring well until smooth; add milk about 1 teaspoon at a time to reach a thick drizzling consistency.

Transfer to a sturdy zip-top bag and snip off the corner; fill each thumbprint with icing. Allow icing to set before serving or storing; store cookies between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes about 5 dozen.


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