How to Make Thumbprint Cookies with Raspberry Jam or Chocolate Caramel
These easy thumbprint cookies are one of my all-time favorite holiday treats! Sweet, crumbly, comforting, and so simple to make. And this year, I’ve played around with different fillings for some festive flavor variety. I’ll show you how to make classic thumbprint cookies filled 2 tasty ways—some with raspberry jam for Christmas, some with chocolate caramel for Thanksgiving!
The base dough for both options is the same, and you can really try out any sorts of fillings that you’d like. The base cookie itself is buttery, tasty, and soft, yet subtly crumbly—almost like they’re shortbread thumbprint cookies except technically not, because they’re made with an egg yolk. Still, they’ve got the rich flavor and texture that I love in a shortbread!
In designing this recipe, I learned that the traditional, truly classic thumbprint cookies have their origins in Sweden and are known as Hallongrotta, which means “raspberry cave.” So first, I stuck with raspberry jam thumbprint cookies for Christmas, which is arguably the simplest option and a classic flavor for a reason. They’ve got such a fruity, tangy, balanced bite!
Then, I decided to make chocolate caramel thumbprint cookies for Thanksgiving, filled with homemade chocolate caramel and walnuts. You can’t let the homemade caramel sit for too long, but it was really simple to make and turned out perfectly sweet, crunchy, and indulgent. So, let’s get to it—two deliciously different yet equally easy thumbprint cookies for the holidays!
Easy Thumbprint Cookies Ingredients Notes:
Butter: I love cookies with real butter, and I haven’t tried this specific recipe with a substitute like coconut oil. You’d have to do some experimenting to see how it turns out!
Egg Yolk: Similarly, I’ve only made this recipe with a real egg yolk and can’t speak to how any vegan alternatives might work.
Flour: I made these classic thumbprint cookies with all-purpose flour. An alternative like a 1-to-1 gluten free flour or oat flour might work, but it would require some testing. (Or, try my gluten free thumbprint cookies with a nut butter base.)
Cornstarch: This is the secret ingredient that keeps these cookies nice and soft! Again, I haven’t personally tested any substitutes, but you could try omitting and simply replacing it with more flour, or try swapping it out for arrowroot or tapioca starch.
How to Make Classic Thumbprint Cookies for the Holidays
These easy thumbprint cookies start with a simple base dough—sort of like a shortbread, but with an egg yolk. First, flour, cornstarch, and salt get whisked together. Separately, the butter and sweetener are beaten together, followed by the egg yolk and vanilla. Then, it’s important to gradually add that dry mixture (in 2-3 batches) into the wet mixture, mixing as you go.
The process is pretty straightforward, just be patient with your dough as you mix. It will seem dry and crumby at first, but it will thicken as you continue mixing. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and add a splash of milk to adjust the texture if it’s still too dry. Then, once the dough holds together when pressed, use your hands to collect the dough so it’s fully combined.
Next, use a cookie scoop or a spoon to portion the dough into about 1-Tbsp sized balls. Roll each of them between your palms, so they’re smooth and don’t have any cracks. Add those dough balls to a prepared baking sheet with some space between them, pressing down slightly to flatten them into disc shapes.
Finally, use your finger or the rounded end of a spatula to press down in the middle of each cookie, creating a small well for your filling(s). Now, depending on which flavor of holiday thumbprint cookies you plan to make (see below), you’ll either add the filling before baking them or after. Either way, both varieties will need to bake at 375°F (190°C) for 12-14 minutes.
Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies for Christmas
These are the true classics of the classic thumbprint cookies – and the simplest. For this filling option, you’ll want to spoon the jam into the well of each cookie before putting them in the oven to bake. Be sure to fill them up to the brim with plenty of jam!
Personally, I went with raspberry jam thumbprint cookies to stick with the traditional Swedish Hallongrotta concept, but you can really use any type of jam that you enjoy. After baking, you’ve got warm, gooey, sweet-and-buttery holiday cookies that taste like Christmas morning!
Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies for Thanksgiving
This flavor is definitely a deviation from the traditional recipe, but it’s very much worth trying. Honestly, I’m not even a chocolate person and these chocolate caramel thumbprint cookies turned out to be my favorite! For this recipe, you’ll need to bake the cookies first without any filling, then add the caramel filling once the cookies have cooled slightly.
Altogether, the caramel needs about 15-20 minutes total to prepare and cool (full procedure below), so I recommend starting when the cookies are done or almost done. Most importantly, monitor the mixture as it cools to see when it becomes a caramel consistency, and then immediately spoon it into your baked cookies. If you wait too long, it might harden!
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
Separately, with a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together softened butter and Truvia® Sweet Complete™ until creamy.
Add egg yolk and vanilla, mixing to integrate.
Gradually add flour mixture in 2-3 batches, mixing as you go until combined. (It will seem dry and crumbly at first, but it will Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix, adding milk as needed to adjust texture. Use hands to press dough together and get it fully combined.)
Once dough holds together when pressed, it’s ready to roll into cookies.
To bake cookies:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Scoop dough into 1-Tbsp size balls (I use a cookie scoop) and roll between palms until smooth, making sure there are no cracks.
Add dough balls to a prepared baking sheet, leaving space in between them, and press slightly to flatten each into a disc shape. Use a finger or the rounded end of a spatula to press an indent into each cookie, creating a small well in the center and smoothing out the edges as needed.
For Christmas cookies with jam filling: Add jam into the thumbprint indent of each cookie before baking, filling them to the brim.
For Thanksgiving cookies with caramel filling: Bake thumbprint cookies first, without any filling. Prepare caramel walnut filling (see below) while cookies bake, then add filling once cookies have cooled slightly.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow to cool before enjoying.
Cover cookies or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
To make caramel walnut filling:
Add butter to a small saucepan over medium heat, until melted. Add Truvia® Sweet Complete™, stirring constantly until it integrates and comes to a boil.
Cook 1 minute over a boil, stirring regularly.
Remove from heat and stir in heavy whipping cream, followed by chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. Stir well until chocolate chips melt and integrate.
Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes, until it’s a caramel consistency, then immediately spoon mixture into the center of baked cookies. (You don’t want to wait too long or the caramel may harden a bit!)