A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend of mine visited for the weekend, and while she was here, she commented that I should make thumbprint cookies with my homemade strawberry jam. For those of you who are unfamiliar with thumbprint cookies, they are shortbread cookies with a little well in the middle, filled with jam or preserves. The well is typically made by pressing into the dough with one’s thumb, hence the name of the cookie. 🙂 Ever since she said that, thumbprint cookies have been on my mind. This Friday, I’ll be chaperoning Jack’s field trip (my first-ever chaperoning experience! I’m so excited!), so I thought it was as good a week as any to make some cookies. I’ll bring some along as a post-lunch treat for Jack and his classmates.
I did a search for recipes, and boy, are there a lot of thumbprint cookie recipes! Something about this Ina Garten recipe, though, caught my eye, and I decided to make it. I’m so glad I did. It is very simple but very tasty. I loved the buttery shortbread cookies (not too sweet!) coupled with the freshness and slight tartness of the jam. The recipe calls for sweetened coconut flakes, and since I’m not a fan of coconut, I made half of the cookies without coconut. In this case, though, I prefer the ones with coconut — the taste is very subtle, and the flakes add just the right amount of crunchy texture. Even if you make the cookies without coconut flakes, though, I would recommend still doing the egg wash step — the egg wash kind of seals the cookie so the jam doesn’t sink into the cookie as much, plus the cookie looks shinier and prettier.
OK, enough talking. On with the recipe!
Makes 36 cookies
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature (make sure the butter is really at room temperature, and not any cooler, otherwise the dough will be very crumbly! I let my butter come to room temperature overnight. Yes, it really is fine!)
- 3.5 cups of flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for egg wash
- 7 oz sweetened coconut flakes (optional, see notes above)
- Your favorite jam or preserves
In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter with a handheld mixer until just combined.
In a medium bowl, sift together the salt and flour. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until the dough starts coming together in clumps.
Spread some flour onto your counter or work surface, and dump out the dough onto it. Work the dough into a ball, then flatten it into a disk.
Wrap the dough disk in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (you can skip this, but I find it SO much easier to remove the cookies and to clean up if I use parchment or foil on the baking sheet!). Have your egg wash (one egg white beaten with one tablespoon of water), coconut flakes (if using), and jam ready. For the jam, it helps to have a tiny spoon, like a demitasse spoon, handy. A quarter teaspoon measure will do, too.
Take the dough out of the fridge and unwrap it. Break off pieces of dough, rolling them into 1-1/4 inch balls. I didn’t measure precisely; I just rolled little balls of dough.
Dip each dough ball into the egg wash, then immediately roll it in the coconut flakes. You can skip the coconut flakes step, but even if you do, I recommend doing the egg wash.
Place the ball on the baking sheet, then press an indentation into the center of it with your thumb.
Fill the indentation with a little spoonful of jam. Avoid the temptation to overfill the well!
Repeat until all the dough is used up.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the coconut flakes are a nice golden brown. Let cool and serve!