Jam Thumbprints, Baking Memories and a Cookie Party

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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 thumbprint cookies on white plate and multi-colored napkin

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. 

jam thumbprints on red plate with more on cooling rack in background

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:

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?


jam thumbprints on red plate with more on cooling rack in background
5 from 1 vote

Jam Thumbprints

A simple crowd pleaser that you can make your own by spicing up the dough or changing up the jam.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cookie party, jam, jam thumbprints
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 30 servings
Calories 71 kcal
Author adapted from a Hermine Vinick recipe


  • 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


  1. Place flour on a piece of parchment paper with cinnamon and allspice and combine together (you can also do this in a small bowl - the parchment just makes it easy to pour into the other ingredients)
  2. In a medium size bowl, cream butter or margarine with powdered sugar until well blended.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients, half at a time. blending well to make a soft dough; stir in pecans and vanilla.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Make a hollow in center of each with thumb; fill with about 1/2 tsp jam or jelly.
  7. Bake in slow oven (300°) 25 minutes, or until delicately golden. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Makes 30 cookies.


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14 Responses to Jam Thumbprints, Baking Memories and a Cookie Party

  1. Carol Sacks December 28, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    How did I miss this sweet post? A lovely tribute and a delicious recipe. Happy New Year, Beth!

    • Beth December 28, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      Thanks Carol – yes without your comment, something was missing. 🙂 I appreciate your blog, your support, your fascinating tweets, and your friendship – looking forward to more of it all in 2013!

  2. Hannah December 21, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Cookies evoke such happiness and comfort. It’s wonderful you are remembering your friend’s mom in this way – gathering together, baking and sharing. We could all use some cookies, and jam thumbprints are certainly one of my favorites. I look forward to baking a batch! Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy 2013!

    • Beth December 28, 2012 at 8:02 am #

      You too Hannah! I hope 2013 finds us in a real kitchen together, not just a virtual one!

  3. Dorit December 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    I love those cookies. Count me in next time.

    • Beth December 21, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      You bet – they are full of good memories, aren’t they?

  4. sandy corman December 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    All the cookies look good. Heres wishing only happy and healthy occasions next year filled with lots of those cookies.

    • Beth December 21, 2012 at 7:28 am #

      I’ll second that!

  5. Lizthechef December 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Comforting cookies indeed – we can all use some these days. Happy Holidays!

    • Beth December 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Thanks Liz. Glad you dropped by – stay healthy and warm over the holidays ok?!

  6. Betsy Torop December 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Wish I could have been there!

    • Beth December 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      We wish you could have been there too! Put it on your travel wish list for next year 🙂

  7. Hope Ratner December 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    5 stars
    I was one of the proud bakers. It was an amazing evening filled with good spirit(s) and wonderful conversation about a woman who was a role model for us all!

    • Beth December 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Hope you came down off that sugar high :-). Yes it was a lovely evening and I will look forward to it again next year. Maybe I’ll even find the time to make more than one type of cookie :-), channeling our role model the wonder baker.

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