Jam Thumbprints are a classic cookie, especially popular for a holiday cookie party. Learn how to make this diminutive and delicious baked good and the story behind the recipe’s origin and the cookie party that honors it.
Jam Thumbprints – One of 16 Cookies Baked for a Special Memorial Cookie Party
Jam thumbprints are one of sixteen cookies we collectively bake annually to honor my friend Sharon’s mom, Hermine. Hermine used to bake hundreds of cookies each year and share them with her coveted cookie list recipients. (more on how we slyly ended up on that list in this post)
Now that Hermine is gone, the responsibility for carrying on that tradition lies with the lucky recipients to bake her cookies and share them with each other so we can still enjoy a treasured box of holiday gems.
It takes at least eight bakers to deliver what this one woman used to do alone — bake dozens and dozens cookies, while working full time and taking care of her family. My respect for her continues to grow.
One of my personal favorites from her collection was always her jam thumbprints – a simple but satisfying cookie that my kids reach for quickly as well.
How to Put your Own Stamp on this Jam Thumbprint Recipe
There are several ways you can vary this recipe to your own liking or to match what you have on hand. Of course you can vary the jams you use. For the batch you see in these photos, I had three homemade jams and used them all:
- Strawberry Raspberry Jam (Gregory’s Jam)
- Strawberry Jam with Pineapple Guava
- Apricot Jam (made with apricots picked at Andy’s Orchard)
Vary the nuts – the recipe calls for pecans. But I am certain that almonds or pistachios would be really delicious as well. You can also vary the spice flavorings – it calls for cinnamon and allspice but nutmeg or cardamom would be nice. Or even some cocoa powder.
What is your favorite holiday cookie?
- 1 cup all-purpose flour could probably sub others here
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon optional
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice optional
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 stick
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' powdered sugar
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans could use other nuts as well
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Jams and jellies any flavor - you will need about 1/2 cup
Place flour on a piece of parchment paper with cinnamon, allspice and salt. Combine together (you can also do this in a small bowl - the parchment just makes it easy to pour into the other ingredients)
In a medium size bowl, cream butter or margarine with powdered sugar and vanilla until well blended (by hand or in a stand mixer).
Stir in dry ingredients, half at a time, blending well to make a soft dough; stir in pecans.
If the dough is really soft, chill it for a bit. The original recipe says chill for hours, but I found it almost hard to handle if chilled too long. BUT, this dough can be made ahead and rolled later into the balls. If it's too firm when you take it out of the fridge, just let it sit for a few minutes until soft enough to handle.
Roll dough, a tablespoon at a time, into marble size balls between palms of hands; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets or parchment-lined cookie sheets.
- Make a hollow in center of each with thumb; fill with about 1/2 tsp jam or jelly.
Bake in slow oven (300°) 25 minutes, or until delicately golden. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Makes 30 cookies.