What’s Cooking Wednesday: Thumbprint Cookies

Or, “12 Christmas Memories: Part III. ” If you haven’t yet, do check out Part I and II.

6. Cookies!

I simply couldn’t do a series on my Christmas memories without cookies.

My grandmother always made cookies for the holidays, but my mom? She goes crazy. In addition to making them for the family, she’s now started selling trays of homemade cookies and candy–and she’s doing so well that I just may have to go to America to help her next year. Go Mom!

And so, making cookies is definitely one of my fondest Christmas memories. From the time I could walk, I was around the kitchen helping make cookies–although for a while there I didn’t do much other than steal chocolate chips off the table, earning me the nickname “Cookie Monster” from my mom’s friend, her baking partner for many years.

But eventually I worked my way up to working with sprinkles and candied cherries. You know, the Big Time.

My mom made it fun not only for me but also for the friends I was allowed to invite over to help decorate the cut-out cookies–there were far too many stockings and Santas and snowmen and bells and wreaths for just one or two people to decorate.

So at my mom’s house, we’d have decorating slumber parties every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just the other day, in fact, one of my best friends and regular participants in the bake-a-thons left a comment here on the blog longing for the days of such innocent fun.

And I’m so with her on that.

Making cookies!(I’m the one without a blurred face; maybe 12-13 years old here? Not sure.)

And yes, in case you’re wondering, my niece is fully prepared to keep this tradition going. Just the other day my mom said that she’s getting to the age where she can have some friends over to help decorate (she already helps my mom with the cut-outs).

So next year, 9-year-olds at Nana’s!

Before this year, I have never done the Christmas cookie thing by myself–why would I when my mom had it covered? But now that I’ve been here for a few years and have really missed those tastes of home, I decided that this year I’d make some of my mom’s recipes and give out trays to Italian family, friends, and neighbors.

I highly doubt any of them have ever even seen the cookies I made, so it’ll be an interesting experience for all of us.

Yesterday I finished up the last of six types that I made this year, and I’ve already decided that next year I’ll try my hand at even more. My mom had sent me some things like chocolate chips and brown sugar, but since I decided on Operazione Biscotti at the last minute, some cookies just weren’t going to happen this year for lack of the proper ingredients and tools.

But look out Christmas 2008!
What's Cooking WednesdayI’m not going to share all the recipes with you now, or even the photos just yet, but I will let you in on what has to be one of the easiest and tastiest cookies ever for this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday. In fact, this is a great one to make with kids because they get to play around in the dough as much as they want and they really can’t ruin it.

“Unless their hands are dirty,” adds my mom.The words of wisdom never end I tell you.

Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies

These classics will also be my entry in Food Blogga‘s Eat Christmas Cookies event. Go check out all the great cookies over there–just beware you’ll probably leave hungry.

Thumbprint Cookies*

Thumbprint Cookies2 c flour
3/4 c confectioner’s sugar
1 c butter
1 tsp vanilla

Jelly of your choice (I used apricot and strawberry)

1. Combine flour and sugar and then cut in butter until well distributed. Sprinkle with vanilla and mix dough with hands until smooth.

2. Shape into 1 inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet.

3. Indent centers with lightly floured finger (or thumb!) and fill with jelly.

4. Bake in preheated 325°F (163°C) oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Remove to rack to cool.

Easy peasy and tasty too!

*I should note that the original recipe calls for a cup of chopped nuts–I just don’t like them in this, so I don’t put them in. If you want to, put 1/2 of them in with the flour and sugar in the beginning, and then, after you make the dough into balls, roll them in the remaining nuts. Thanks Christina for reminding me to include this!

Buon appetito!

Christmas Memories: Part I

* Christmas Memories: Part II

Christmas Memories: Part IV

Christmas Memories: Part V

26 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Thumbprint Cookies”
  1. The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick

    I love thumbprint cookies! They definitely remind me of my grandma, who always made them at Christmastime and my mom picked up the tradition. The only difference from your photo is that we usually roll ours in chopped almonds before cooking. The only jam I never liked in my cookies was the green mint stuff. Otherwise, bring on the berry and the apricot! Yum! 🙂


  2. sognatrice

    *Christina, you’re so right about the nuts! My mom used to make these with them, but we didn’t really like them, so she cut them out. I’ve now edited the recipe to include nutty directions too 🙂

  3. Lisa Milton

    These will be perfect to do with my kids – and better yet, egg-free so I can have some too.

    (Me and my silly allergies…)

  4. Jen of A2eatwrite

    I so love those cookies, and the bake-a-thons with your mom sound like so much fun! We never baked when I was growing up, so I’m learning all that now, and enjoying it a lot. Your recipe IS easy – I may make those in the next day or two.

  5. Wanderlust Scarlett

    YAY! I’m going to try this recipe.

    Start praying now, please.

    Hopefully, it will come out great, and I’ll have some homemade cookies to leave for Santa!

    I think I’ll leave a chocolate kiss in the ones I make though, instead of jam. mmm… chocolate…

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  6. Karina

    HMM…these sound yummy. I’m not much for cookies (or sweets in general), but every now and then I get a craving for cookies…these could fit the bill.

  7. BipolarLawyerCook

    Looks delicious. My MIL makes a similar recipe, but she rolls it into a log, and makes a gutter down the middle that she fills with jam. She then bakes them, and cuts them into biscotti-like diagonals while still warm, and drizzles a milk-powdered sugar icing over them. “Grownup thumbprints” is what we call them.

  8. Stefanie

    Christmas cookies are one holiday tradition I have never been a part of. My mom made exactly ONE kind of cookie (mint meringue), and she made them all by herself. Everyone in town loved them; they were sort of her trademark, but by the time I was 11 or 12, I was so sick to death of them that I don’t think I’ve had one since.

  9. african vanielje

    Beautiful, these look like real kid’s cookies.

  10. Proud Italian Cook

    Sognatrice, I loved reading about all your happy memories of family and food. Sounds like your keeping all the traditions alive in your own home. I have to tell you, after looking at your photos of that ricotta poundcake you made I earmarked it for future baking. Well, that was yesterday, and I made 2 loaves 1 I gave to a friend,and the other for my Hubby,who loves ricotta anything! In his, I added a little limoncello, it was truely delicious!! Thank you, that will be a keeper in my family.

  11. Gil

    Hey, my daughter had big hair like that back in the day. She’ll be here Saturday to bake cookies with her Mom and her friend Sam & I will be eating them as soon as their backs are turned!!!

    These food posts always make me hungry.

  12. sognatrice

    *Lisa, woohoo, egg free! Happy baking 🙂

    *Jen, we’re all about easy here; I hope you get to make these!

    *Scarlett, you can do it! I don’t know if there should be special instructions for your elevation, but I’m sure somewhere on the Internet there’s info 😉

    *Karina, the great thing about using the apricot jelly is that it’s tart enough to counter the sweet–really tames the cookie 😉

    *BLC, why yes they *are* grown up thumbprints. Mmmm….

    *Stefanie, I can see how you’d get sick of just that one cookie. I’ve gone through phases with my mom’s as well–some years I couldn’t stand another butter cookie and then other years, they were my favorite. Go figure.

    *Inge, children’s cookies indeed 🙂

    *PIC, so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the ricotta cake! Have you made ricotta cookies? Those are good too 🙂

    *Gil, sounds like a good deal for you. And for the record, my hair wasn’t actually big, just up in a ponytail 😉

  13. Wanderlust Scarlett

    oh… right, I forgot about the elevation. Hm.

    Eh… I will look around and see what can be found.

    Thanks for the tip!

    Scarlett (Viaggiatore left, he is on his way to leave Christmas greetings for all the lions in the group..)

  14. Taffiny

    Oh dear, this reminds me, I am supposed to make my Nana’s Christmas cookies every year. She said to me, “Someday when I am gone, you will have to make these and give them out to the entire family”.

    I tried for a year or two with mixed results, and lots of stress, and gave up. They are a type of sugar cookie (with buttermilk) but are thick and end up turning out more like cake. I miss them each year at this time, and fully intend to make them again in the near future. It is just that I have everyone over to my house for Christmas, and in past years have been a bit overwhelmed (with cleaning, cooking, Santa and kid stuff), but I seem to be handling it better this year.

    so maybe I should make them.

    Those baking slumber parties sound great. 🙂

  15. jennifer

    These are excellent ! I just made some

  16. Shan

    Oh I love these. Grandma Linda makes them every year for Christmas.

  17. sognatrice

    *Scarlett, I think you should just move and your cooking/baking skills would improve dramatically 😉

    *Taffiny, get baking! I think your grandmother will help you if you just ask….

    *Jennifer, woohoo! Enjoy 🙂

    *Shan, that Grandma Linda is a smart cookie. Hah!

  18. Gil

    Just doing a little teasing on the hair!

  19. sognatrice

    *Gil, lo so, lo so 😉

  20. Valerie

    We made these every year, too. Love them, but I shudder to think how much spit I put on all those cookies, since I always licked my fingers as I thumb-printed them and slopped the jam! Yikes. 🙂

  21. sognatrice

    *Valerie, mmm, baked spit…always tasty 😉

  22. Susan from Food Blogga

    Now that’s one cool mom! Cookie parties are such a great idea for kids. I always loved making thumbprints with my mom too, especially with strawberry and raspberry jam. Mmmm…. Thanks so much for submitting and sharing your story, Michelle. Cheers, Susan

  23. Annarasa

    These look super. Remind of of ‘jam cookies’ I loved as a child back in India.

  24. sognatrice

    *Susan, glad you enjoyed the submission, and yes, my mom is certainly cool 😉

    *Annarasa, happy to bring back good memories for you! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  25. a far away friend

    I’ve been away from your blog far too long…and just look at what I’ve been missing. I screamed (@ work) when I saw that old picture of us. Such great times. I’ve got so much catching up to do, I’ll send you a length message soon. Hope all is well. Happy New Year.

    But hey, did you like how I blurred your face? And I can just imagine your scream 😉

  26. Daniel

    I’ve always seen these cookies around, but never realized how simple their recipe is. Why, even I could make them! Hope you’re well.

    Haha have at it Daniel! And let me know how they turn out 🙂



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake