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Easy Thumbprint Cookies (with preserves)

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

This is a fun twist on a traditional Thumbprint cookie that uses cherry preserves (or sour cherry spread) in the center of a delicious almond-infused shortbread cookie.

I recently visited a friend’s home, where she served a yummy cherry jam/spread at lunchtime. Imagine my surprise when she insisted I take it home to use in a recipe!

Trust me when I say I didn’t have to think long about what sort of recipe to choose! I’ve been dying to make Thumbprint cookies for some time now and haven’t had an excuse. Finally! The perfect reason to bake them!

Basically, it’s a simple sugar cookie with an indentation in it (a hole, if you will) that’s filled with jam or preserves. You can really use any kind of preserves you want. Here are a few of the ones you’ll see in Traditional Thumbprint cookies:

  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Blackberry
  • Apricot
  • Orange Marmalade
  • Lemon curd (or key lime curd)
  • Apple pie filling (diced)
  • Peach pie filling (diced)

Some people stick other things into the thumbprint besides preserves. They use ingredients like:

  • Candy melts
  • Caramel square (You can add a pecan half after it bakes)
  • Fudge
  • Candy (like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup)
  • Hard candy (like peppermint)
  • Gummy candies
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cookie Butter
  • Peanut Butter

Here are some things you could add after the cookies bake. Just leave the thumbprint empty during baking and then add the following right when the cookies come out of the oven:

  • Dark Chocolate Chips with crushed peppermint sticks
  • White Chocolate Chips with chopped Andes mints
  • Peanut Butter with mini chocolate chips
  • Cream cheese with toasted coconut and chopped pecans
  • Dark Chocolate Chips with slivered almonds and toasted coconut

I can’t speak to most of those because I haven’t tried them yet, but don’t they sound yummy?

Where Do Thumbprint Cookies Come From?

These yummy sugar cookies date back to the 19th century but there is some dispute about their origins. Some people say they hail from Poland, others say Sweden, still others say they come from the Jewish people of Eastern Europe.

Regardless of where they come from, we know where they’re going. . .to your next event! That’s right! You can whip them up in a hurry and take them with you–to work, to school, to a party, or even to a friend who’s not feeling well. (Hey, nothing says “Get well quick!” like a dreamy cookie!)

This is a buttery shortbread-like cookie, but my version calls for shortening along with the butter. If you read my Heavenly Snickerdoodles post you know that adding shortening gives you a lighter, fluffier result.

Where do I Get Sour Cherry Spread?

The jar my friend gave me was purchased at Whole Foods but I found it on Amazon from Dalmatia.

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Most grocery stores carry cherry preserves, if you want to go a less expensive route. You can make your own or even use a dab of cherry pie filling but it will be much sweeter.

Cherry. . .and Almond?

What a delicious combination! From the moment I was given those sour cherry preserves, I knew they had to be paired with an almond cookie.

I used the same base cookie recipe in my Sugar Crinkle Cookies. It’s perfect for Thumbprints with only a few variations. But first, let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need:

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookie Ingredients:

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

You’ll find a full recipe at the bottom of this post, but I’m guessing you already have most of these ingredients on hand.

  • room temperature butter (salted or unsalted, your preference)
  • vegetable shortening 
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • granulated sugar
  • whole egg
  • almond extract (this is what makes the cookie!)
  • all purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • cream of tartar
  • granulated sugar (or sanding sugar)
  • preserves (I went with sour cherry; you can use whatever you like)

How to Make these Thumbprint Cookies

They come together so easily, but there’s one step you absolutely can’t leave out. This dough must be refrigerated! We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Here’s how you make the dough:

Whip the butter and shortening together until light and fluffy. Add your sugars, extract, and egg. Blend well!

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Put your dry ingredients into a separate bowl and whisk, then slowly work them in. Don’t over mix!

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Scoop into balls and roll in granulated (or sanding) sugar. Use your thumb or other rounded surface to make an indentation. (Note: Don’t push too hard! You don’t want to flatten the cookie!)

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Put your preserves into a piping bag to pipe. Cut off the tip of the bag. (Make sure the opening is big enough for the cherries to come through.)

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Pipe a dollop of the preserves into the thumbprint.

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Fill your tray and then place into the refrigerator to chill for 10 – 15 minutes. (This is a critical step! Your cookies might fall flat if you bake them at room temperature.)

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

While your cookies are chilling, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. When cookies have chilled, bake them for 10-11 minutes or until golden on bottom. The sugar will cause a crackling effect, which is lovely when they are done!

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies from Out of the Box Baking.com

Cool on a wire rack. You don’t want to eat them when they are piping hot because the preserves could burn your mouth. Also, these cookies need a few minutes to firm up. The soft centers make them more fragile than most cookies when warm.

The mergence of cherry and almond was exactly what I was hoping for! These two flavors were meant to go together. And the tiny bit of crunch from the sugar coating? Perfection!

Store dough balls in the freezer for up to two months (in a freezer bag or other airtight container.)

Store baked cookies in an airtight container for 3-4 days. You can freeze them to eat later, if you like.

Variations on this recipe:

As I mentioned above, there are all sorts of things you can add to the center of this cookie in place of preserves. But there are also ingredients you can add to the cookie, itself. Things such as:

  • Pecans. Roll your cookies in crushed pecans and then add a dollop of hot fudge to the center!
  • Roll in coconut before baking and then fill the thumbprint with raspberry preserves or chocolate chips.
  • Cocoa powder: Turn this into a chocolate cookie by adding 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the batter.
  • Red Velvet: Add cocoa powder and a dot of red coloring gel to the cookie recipe, then scoop cream cheese with a bit of sugar into the center before baking.
  • Colored sprinkles: During the Christmas season you can make thumbprints even more festive for your Christmas cookie tray by adding red, green, or white sprinkles.
  • Drizzle royal icing: It’s so easy to make royal icing. Drizzle a little on top.
  • Drizzle a simple glaze made of confectioners’ sugar and water on top.

I could keep going, but you get the idea! There are a zillion variations on this simple little cookie.

If you love fruity treats, you’ll flip over my Pineapple Upside Down Cake, y’all! It’s incredibly easy to make and starts with a boxed mix!

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

Sour Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 24
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 21 minutes

Ingredients

  • • 1/2 cup room temperature butter (salted or unsalted, your choice)
  • • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • • 1 whole egg
  • • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract, your choice)
  • • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Instructions

    Whip the butter and shortening together until light and fluffy. Add your sugars, extract, and egg. Blend well!
    Put your dry ingredients into a separate bowl and whisk, then slowly work them in. Don't over mix!
    Scoop into balls and roll in granulated (or sanding) sugar. Use your thumb or other rounded surface to make an indentation. (Note: Don't push too hard! You don't want to flatten the cookie!)
    Put your preserves into a piping bag to pipe. (Make sure the opening is big enough for the cherries to come through.)
    Pipe a dollop of the preserves into the thumbprint.
    Fill your tray and then place into the refrigerator to chill for 10 - 15 minutes. (This is a critical step! Your cookies might fall flat if you bake them at room temperature.)
    While your cookies are chilling, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. When cookies have chilled, bake them for 10-11 minutes or until golden on bottom. The sugar will cause a crackling effect, which is lovely when they are done!
    Cool on a wire rack. You don't want to eat them when they are piping hot because the preserves could burn your mouth. Also, these cookies need a few minutes to firm up. The soft centers make them more fragile than most cookies when warm.

Which ones will you bake up?

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Miz Helen

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Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us on Full Plate Thursday, 585! Hope you are having a great week and come back to see us soon. Miz Helen

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