Thumbprint Cookies: 25 Recipes for a Christmas Countdown

Updated on February 14, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

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If you are from Sweden, you might know them as Hallongrotta (raspberry caves). The French have their Niçois suns. In Poland, they are known as teacakes; in Sweden, they are called bird's nests; and Eastern European Jewish bakers create butter balls. Or you could call them thumbprint cookies.

Their true origin is unknown, so let's just not worry about the history. I prefer to bake and eat them. So here's a Christmas countdown. One batch of cookies for every day between now and Christmas Day.

(I will confess that I have not tried all of these, but the thumbprint cookie was one of the first cookies I remember "helping" with when I was young. The flavor combinations of cookie-plus-filling are almost limitless, and that is why I love them so.)

Flavors of Christmas

(1) Eggnog

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Eggnog is certainly the Christmas drink, and has been for hundreds of years. This little cookie doesn't have the booze (or calorie count), but it still pleases with all of the flavor we associate with that annual nog. Nutmeg is the "secret ingredient" and this is one of my favorite flavors of the season.

(2) Gingerbread

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Is there any cookie that speaks of Christmas more than gingerbread? We construct elaborate houses from them, leave them for Santa (with a glass of milk), and even hang them on our tree. These chocolate gingerbread bites are the perfect snack to have while trimming your tree (but don't try to hang THESE from the boughs).

(3) Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows

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After a day of playing in the snow, skiing, sledding, making snowmen or snow angels, or if you're just sitting in the ski lodge by the fireplace a mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows just seems the right thing to do. Here's the flavor of that mug in a dainty little bite. The chocolate cookie part of these thumbprints is delicate and tender just like the marshmallow on top.

(4) Irish Cream

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Irish cream is almost as popular as eggnog during the holidays. These Irish cream and mocha thumbprints would be a wonderful addition to your holiday cookie platter. I love these for the flavor of the frosting.

(5) Peppermint Chocolate

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Salt and pepper. Peanut butter and jelly. Sonny and Cher (well, OK maybe not that one). But there are things that just seem to go together. Like peppermint and chocolate. How about peppermint and chocolate cookies? The chocolate cookie is dark, dense, and rich. I'm not a huge peppermint fan, but my daughter LOVES anything peppermint-striped, so we have an arrangement. I separate the kiss mints from the cookie base and we share.

(6) Pumpkin Spice

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There's something about the cold winter evenings that makes pumpkin spice just seem so warm and comforting. Starbucks and the rest of the world have pumpkin EVERYTHING. Why not join in the fun?

(7) Red and Green With Sprinkles

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Vanilla cookie dough with red or green frosting, and then red and green Christmas sprinkles too. These were a hit at our church Christmas cookie swap.

Utterly Decadent

(8) Brownie-Chocolate Chip

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A thumbprint cookie that is part brownie and part chocolate chip? Be still my beating heart.

(9) Dulce de Leche

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Shortbread is a simple buttery dough without sugar or eggs, so it is a perfect foil for dulce de leche, the rich Argentinian caramelized milk treat. These thumbprint cookies are almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

(10) New York Cheesecake

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A real New York cheesecake has a specific taste and texture and crust. You can get those same flavors without a ton of cream cheese (and bain marie).

(11) Pecan Pie

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The pecan pie originated in the South USA where pecan trees are prevalent. It's thought that the pecan is a spin-off of the lemon cheese pie with Colonists brought with them to the New World. The pie is rich and decadent, and I hope they serve it in Heaven. I rarely bake them because they are a dangerous commodity in my pantry (a moment on the lips, a year on the hips), but I think I can allow myself a few of these little cookies which taste almost as good.

(12) Salted Caramel

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I don't know when salted caramel became a "thing" but I'm glad it hasn't gone the way of the dodo or disco. I love the pairing of sweet and salty. And I love these salted caramel coconut thumbprint cookies.

(13) Turtle (Just Like the Candies)

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Do you remember the turtle candies? Pecans and caramel with a dollop of chocolate on top. They were so-named because each piece consisted of 5 pecans, arranged so that they looked like 4 little feet/flippers and a head. My dad always bought a box of them for the family at Christmas time.Pecans are my all-time favorite nut (even ahead of macadamias).

Fruit Filled

(14) Apple Pie

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The person who coined the phrase "easy as pie" has obviously never made a pie. They aren't difficult, but they are an investment of time. These cookies have all the flavor and are easy-peasy.

(15) Apricot

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My favorite fruit of all time (at the top of my hit parade) is the apricot. Unfortunately, they are available locally for only a few months in the summer. I'll just eat these until next July.

(16) Cherry Cheesecake

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Cherry cheesecake is one of the ubiquitous desserts. It shows up at every potluck at church (thanks usually to Sara Lee). These little bites are quick and, if you restrict yourself to just a few, who knows, you might save a calorie or two. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

(17) Chocolate Cherry

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My husband loves, loves, LOVES chocolate-covered cherries. I do have a recipe for making those, but you have to let them sit for 2 or 3 days for the "magic" to happen (that's when the firm creamy center re-liquifies). If I make a batch of these, there's no waiting needed.

(18) Lemon

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Lemon is such a refreshing, bright taste. I'm going to save this recipe for summer. It sounds like the perfect dessert to have with a picnic or after a summer barbecue.

(19) Pineapple Coconut

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Pineapple and coconut. Sounds like a pina colada to me. Why not?

(20) Raspberry Almond Shortbread

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Whenever I make these I am reminded of my dear mother in law who lived with us for a year until she had to transition into a nursing home. She loved these cookies. I loved her and loved making them for her.

Old Favorites

(21) Peanut Butter Blossoms

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These are the first cookies I learned to "bake." I use quotation marks because I didn't actually do the baking. My sister prepared the dough, shaped and baked, but I had the VERY IMPORTANT task of having the Hershey kisses unwrapped and ready to put on the hot cookies as soon as the came out of the oven. And, of course, those kisses need to be centered in the middle of the cookie. I was proud. If you have little people in your life, this might be a fun cookie for them to help with.

(22) Red Velvet Cream Cheese

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This little cookie has all of the red glam, as well as the creamy frosting, without the hassle of making a multi-layered cake.

(23) Samoas (Like the Girl Scout Cookies)

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Once a year the Girl Scouts of America have their annual cookie sale. I can ignore the mint cookies, the shortbread are so-so, but my knees go weak at the very thought of a Samoa cookie--those luxurious bites with dark chocolate, caramel, and coconut. Well now, you and I don't have to wait for the annual sale. Here's how to make samoas thumbprint cookies.

(24) S'mores

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Guess what, you can have the flavor of a s'mores without going camping.

(25) White Chocolate

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I included these because they're just so pretty. I can imagine a basketful of these at Easter.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Linda Lum

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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        12 months ago from Washington State, USA

        You're right Shauna. The basic dough is typically like a shortbread cookie (that's why they maintain their cute round shape). Thanks for stopping by and for your support.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        12 months ago from Central Florida

        I'm going to bookmark this article, Linda. Every Christmas I make thumbprint cookies. Half get apricot preserves in the indentation and the other half gets plum or raspberry. Yum!

        This article gives me some delicious-sounding variations. One thing I love about thumbprints is they're not too sweet. Just my style....

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Nikki - The pleasure is all mine. I am so glad that you have found my page. Lemon makes me think of Easter, springtime, refreshment. I'm already tired of winter, and it's not even officially arrived yet.

      • nikkikhan10 profile image

        Nikki Khan 

        22 months ago from London

        Well so many delicious things to try,,so yummy.

        I like mostly lemon cookies and gingerbread biscuits.All are mouth watering indeed.Thanks for sharing dear.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        22 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Manatita - If it gives you any comfort, I will not be baking any of these this year. It is best to not have so many temptations. Thank you for your kind words.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        22 months ago from london

        So many scrumptious delicacies in this one, my Dear. Pity I have to stay of the sugar. Awesome picks! You've brought the Christmas spirit, all right.

        I'm definitely coming for Christmas! Lol.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Mary, the Samoas are a fairly recent addition to the GSA collection. I don't personally have a chocolate mint copycat recipe but I PROMISE to have one for you on Monday. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        23 months ago from Brazil

        So many to try, where to start? The Samoas look good but I didn't realize they were a Girl Scout cookie. It has been a long while since I've had Girl Scout cookies.

        Speaking of that, I always loved the mint cookies from the Girl Scouts. Do you have a copycat recipe for those, for your Monday cooking Q & A?

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, thank you so much. I think that's my calling in life. For me, food is love. (I guess somewhere deep inside of me is a Jewish grandma struggling to get out).

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Thanks Linda for keeping food fun and loving.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish, oh no! At least he'll be home in time for Christmas. Let me know which ones end up being the favorite.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        23 months ago from USA

        I know what I’ll be trying this weekend— a few of these recipes starting with that red velvet cookie. Sending my husband off to Chicago for 2 weeks as he starts a new job and he needs to take some Christmas cookies with him to o remind him of home. This is perfect.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Kari, thank you. Great minds think alike! I hope your daughter likes some of these.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, I'm sorry. Everything in moderation.

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 

        23 months ago from Ohio

        My daughter and I were just discussing thumbprint cookies last night. I'm going to send this to her! We will be making some. :)

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        23 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Here I am trying to eat responsibly, and you post about cookies. Thanks a lot, friend. I guess I'll go have a sweet and start in with the responsible eating tomorrow. :)

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        23 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, I have not tried but am intrigued by the apple pie thumbprints. But, of course, I will have to make a batch of the raspberry shortbread. Thanks so much.

        BTW, on another topic, I am working on an answer to your question about pancakes. You've inspired me!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I will decide which ones to try. I like the fruit type the best. Thanks Linda.

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