Friday, December 14, 2018

Thumbprint Cookies – Great Grandma Mitzi to the Rescue!

My mother, Pauline, made really nice thumbprint cookies, but unfortunately I never wrote down her recipe, and so I was forced to go online to find one, so I could refresh my memory. I knew the ingredients, but unless you have them in the right proportions, you won’t end up with that perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture these iconic cookies are known for.

Above and beyond the buttery mouthfeel, we also want a cookie that has perfectly smooth edges, with none of the dreaded cracks that give away a subpar recipe. So, I did an image search, and came across a recipe that looked very similar, and believe it or not, it was credited to a Great Grandma named “Mitzi.” Since my last name is Mitzewich, that pretty much sealed the deal.

I usually have to adapt recipes I steal online, but with these, I didn’t need to change a thing. They really were perfect, as advertised. So, sincere thanks to Stacy from Wicked Good Kitchen, and her Great Grandma, Mitzi.  My Mom would’ve loved these, although she would’ve asked where the chopped walnuts were, since she liked to add those to hers. 

Speaking of family, if you’re entertaining some of yours during the holidays, these beautiful cookies would make a lovely addition to your dessert table, which is why I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients to make 20 to 24 Thumbprint Cookies:
1 stick (1/2 cup) soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar (not sifted)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (5 ounces by weight)
1/2 cup fruit jam to fill centers

- 325 F. for 15 minutes

For the icing:
- Combine powdered sugar with a little milk or water, and mix until you have a consistency that will hold its shape when piped.


Molly said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe, Chef. I am a canner and always on the lookout for a #usethedamnjam vehicle.

Ana B said...

Yeees! My foodwish has come true, thank you!

Unknown said...

I was looking for a new dessert to try out and this one seems perfect and simple! I'm getting the butter out now!!

Ummi Sohayb said...

Plz can u tell m the ingredients in gram
Lovely greetings from Germany

Nomi said...

These were so delicious~ for half of the cookies I used strawberry jam and for rest I used left over cream cheese icing (it had more cream cheese than butter) and it tasted so good! You should try it with cream cheese!

Rui Gaspar said...

Great recipe as always.
Can you please convert your recipes to metric units?
Best regards.

Unknown said...

Huge fan!!! Thx chef john

Maddie said...

Yum!! Trying these tomorrow, bought the strawberry jam this afternoon. If you use raspberry, do you strain the seeds?

Will said...

A little more detail on the icing, please? Like how much confectioners sugar to water/milk?

That One Brand of Chicken, Nguyen said...

Hey Chef John, Just as a general question, when you measure out your 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, do you just scoop up enough sugar to fill the cup or do you pack the sugar into the cup until it's full. I think my cookies came out a little drier than I expected, but hey, maybe that's just how they are.

Christine said...

These look amazing! I absolutely love this type of cookie and the recipe is a little different than I've made before. Cannot WAIT to try it!!

Jessica Costello said...

One of my old favorites!

Starla Kelsey said...

t biggest failure to date. I am trying again and maybe this time I can do better. Fingers crossed. If not I will buy some for my party next weekend. I just don't seem to be able to bake even the easiest things.

p2 said...

Mitzewich???? Any chance of a kolachky video??????

Melissa Robison said...

I'll give them a try right now, Chef John! They look like little gems!

Minna Donatucci said...

Just made 'em! I could show you! They are lovely. Thanks again for the great recipe.

Kaitlyn Ballard said...

Quadrupled this recipe for Xmas cookies and they came out fantastic! Thanks Chef John I always look forward to your recipes?

LoneWolf said...

It's like the universe heard my struggle about cookies, and then saw my disappointment flatjack, and then the universe said, "Noob, pls."

Christine said...

I had to write back and let you know I've made this twice in 2 days. Absolutely delicious!

Unknown said...

RPug - Thank you Grandma Mitzi (and Chef John). These are wonderful and so easy! Love your posts.

goggbeldogook said...

chocolate centers?

PolonaMiha said...

Dear Chef John,

since I've been a fan of yours for such a long time, let me give you the ultimate challenge: SWITCH TO METRICAL and join the 21. century. I'm so often put off by the measuring units you use that it's become ridiculous. Don't forget: the rest of the world is watching you. By 'the rest of the world' I mean 194 out of 197 existing countries of this world. Apart from USA the only 2 countries that use full Imperial are the paragons of progress Liberia and Myanmar.

What in the hell is a cup of butter? Butter is not a fluid. This is caveman's language. Seriously! ''You woman give me stone of meat, tree leaf of salt, palm of water and take to our friend many of two hand fingers steps forward and then to the no eat hand at giant tree... OOOOHHH you old man live almost one spruce tree and a waterfall...

Daniel Shaffer said...

Chef, it looks like you halved the original recipe for everything but the salt, but your yield is still the same as the recipe you linked to. Would appreciate clarification on that.

Karen Marciniak said...

Worked better for me to put the jam in AFTER baking. The jam doesn't "bleed" into the cookie dough at all that way.

Shim Farm said...

Hahaha! Whenever I see powdered sugar measured in a measuring cup, I am always wishing for a gram measurement instead. In reading through the comments, I'm obviously not alone.

I think 2019 should bring about a shift in baking. And I think you, our venerable Chef John, should be the catalyst and lead the way. A scale in EVERY kitchen, with your name and face on it. Just think of the possibilities!

That said and done, I'll give this recipe a go with the traditional measurements, and I'm sure it will be wonderful, even if I might cuss under my breath at how many grams are in a 1/3 cup icing sugar...

Sean said...

I did these, they came out perfect! I did some Nutella filled ones as an experiment; turned out okay. Jam is better, though. Also, a white disc filled with Nutella looks like something else, entirely.

But all 3 of the jams I did turned out great! Apricot, blueberry, and strawberry. Thanks again!

Lani Teshima said...

@Daniel Shaffer - I've so far made four batches using this recipe, and it's consistently yielded about 13-14 cookies in a batch.

I'm curious if you'd call this a sugar cookie? It doesn't taste quite as sweet... and honestly, I love the balance between the not-too-sweet cookie and the jam.

Unknown said...

Hello Chef John, I'm a great big fan of yours and of course Merry Christmas to you and yours. I was wondering though, I intend to gift the cookies I make. Can you please help me out with any information on preservation? What's the shelf life? And do I box, refrigerate or can these? Much thanks.
PS. So sorry to interrupt your holidays but I want to make these tomorrow.
My love to Michelle

Unknown said...

Hello Chef John, I'm a great big fan of yours and of course Merry Christmas to you and yours. I was wondering though, I intend to gift the cookies I make. Can you please help me out with any information on preservation? What's the shelf life? And do I box, refrigerate or can these? Much thanks.
PS. So sorry to interrupt your holidays but I want to make these tomorrow.
My love to Michelle

Much love from Ghana, West Africa

George said...

For the people looking for weights, here are some rough estimates:

1 stick butter = 1/4 lb = about 110 g
1/3 c powdered sugar = about 40 g (according to the nutrition facts on the bag at least)
1 1/4 c flour = 5 oz = about 140 g

Gigi Jansen said...

Chef Jonh seasonings greetings from Brazil. I'd like to know the weight of your butter stick. Here one has 100 grams. Thanks!

Dilan Darshana said...

Thumbprint Cookies – Great Grandma Mitzi to the Rescue!

Dilan Darshana said...

Thumbprint Cookies – Great Grandma Mitzi to the Rescue!

Narbeleth said...

Hello Everyone!

I've just baked these and these are the amounts I used in metric:

115 grams of butter
55 grams of powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
142 grams of all purpose flour
+ vanilla and almond extract

The cookies flattened quite a lot, but other than being flat, they're tasty and look nice. Next time I'll try adding a little more flour, probably 150 grams. The problem also could be that my oven was not at the right tempreture (I have an ancient one, and it's not easy to adjust the temperature).

Greetings from Hungary, Happy Holidays!

Chris said...

Thanks for posting this. I’ve tried other thumbprint cookies in the past and none are as good (or as easy) as these were. Operative word there: ‘were’. They’re addictive so lasted about twenty minutes after I brought them out.

Very nice.

Narbeleth said...

Hello Everyone!

I've just baked these. The cookies are yummie, they flattened out a little too much; the temperature might have not been totally on point, I have an ancient oven. Otherwise, really tasty!

These are the amount I used in metric system:

115 grams of butter
55 grams of powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
142 grams of all purpose flour
+ vanilla and almond extract


Greetings from Hungary, Happy Holidays!

Narbeleth said...

Hi Everyone!

The measurements in metric system are:

115 grams of butter
55 grams of powdered sugar
one large egg yolk
142 grams of all purpose flour
pinch of salt
+vanilla and almond extract

I baked it, it's very tasty. The cookies flattened out quite a lot, but still look nice and taste good. The temperature might have been higher than needed, I have an ancient oven.

Greeting from Hungary!

Maddie said...

I had to make this twice. The first batch did not make it to the gift cookie tins because after my husband and I finished our “quality control sampling,” there were none left.

We doubled batch #2, and yes I strained the raspberry jam, just so nothing would detract from the melt-in-your mouth goodness.

Unknown said...

The cookie dough I ended up with was a bit drier than Chef John's. Unfortunately I believe it was my own fault for following the measurement rather than weight. My dough ended up cracking when pushing down, so I used a small circle cookie cutter to mold them. These came out DELICIOUS, they really do melt in your mouth. I'm so excited to share these with friends!

Chefintraining said...

Thanks Chef!! Love all your recipes!!!

13c11a said...

Dear Chef John,

For many years I lived in the LA area and often went to Anna's of West LA where they served the best lasagna I ever tasted. It had an extraordinary taste that was very dark and rich. It did not have the fresh, bright taste or red color of a regular meat lasagna with tomatoes. I don't think it had any cheese except on top and the meat that was scattered throughout had a deep, complex flavor that was more like broken meatballs than beef, pork and veal. I searched on YouTube and discovered that in Bologna, Italy they use béchamel instead of cheese between the layers and that they also use nutmeg. There are people all over the net who loved Anna's and who are trying to crack the code for her lasagna. Is there a chance that you could approximate her exotic recipe? Sadly, Anna's closed after 41 years about 11 years ago, so I don't think there is much hope of getting the recipe from the family. Thanks for all you do to teach us home cooks how to make more luscious meals.

Unknown said...

Metric conversion for a double match, as per the source recipe. :)

1 cup (2 sticks or 226 g) unsalted butter, softened
⅔ cup (80 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks from large eggs (mine weighed 36 g w/o shells)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure almond extract, optional
¼ teaspoon (1.2 g) fine-grain sea salt
2½ cups (300 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

Conundrum said...

Somehow the batter came out a lil wetter than the video :O and my cookies expanded :X

Unknown said...

Made this recipe and all my family love it! They asked me for more cookies the next day! Thanks for the recipe absolutely delicious!!

Unknown said...

I made these last year around the holidays and they were gobbled up so had to make more...3 times. Light and tender ..delish. Making again this Fall/Winter. Great and super easy recipe. Love it.