Thumbprint Cookies: 25 Recipes for a Christmas Countdown
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
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 flavors we associate with that annual nog. Nutmeg is the "secret ingredient" and this is one of my favorite flavors of the season.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
8. Brownie-Chocolate Chip
A thumbprint cookie that is part brownie and part chocolate chip? Be still my beating heart.
9. Dulce de Leche
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
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
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
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)
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 five pecans, arranged so that they looked like four 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).
14. Apple Pie
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.
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
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
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.
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
Pineapple and coconut. Sounds like a pina colada to me. Why not?
20. Raspberry Almond Shortbread
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.
21. Peanut Butter Blossoms
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
This little cookie has all of the red glam, as well as the creamy frosting, without the hassle of making a multi-layered cake.
Samoas (Like the Girl Scout Cookies)
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.
Guess what? You can have the flavor of s'mores without going camping.
25. White Chocolate
I included these because they're just so pretty. I can imagine a basketful of these at Easter.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Linda Lum