Thumbprint cookies have been around for a long time! Although there is some controversy as to exactly when they were first created however, there are records of them from the early 19th century. History is also not clear about whom to credit for this cookie’s creation either the Polish, Swedish or possibly the Jewish people of Eastern Europe. Regardless of their exact origin, these cookies are to this day a favorite in our American bakeries and cookbooks.
I like to imagine that perhaps they came about by accident. A mother somewhere in Europe had just set out a pan of cookies ready to go in the oven, and in the meantime her children, while she wasn’t looking, wanted to check if the cookies were ready and one by one stuck his or her thumb into the cookies! To cover up their mistake the child added some jam to each little “thumb-hole”. The mother saw the kids around the cookie pan and told them to scatter, quickly taking the pan to the oven without noticing what the kids had done. And just like that: the thumbprint cookie was born. !
Obviously there is no record of how it came about, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. That brings me to why these are perfect cookies to bake with little fingers around. If you have kids around looking for something to do, this recipe is your answer to a fun and delicious activity to keep them busy. Children’s smaller- sized thumbs make the perfect indentations into these cookies for you to add a few chocolate chips. In case you don’t have little fingers around, just make the cookies bigger and use your own thumb of course. Another option is to use the back of a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon — this tool will make the perfect size.
Here are a few other notes about this particular thumbprint cookie recipe. The original is similar to a sugar cookie; this one, on the other hand, is a peanut butter cookie. Instead of vegetable oil, we used coconut oil. A few of our blogs have touched on why we use coconut oil in baking (see here), but if you are not convinced yet, this is a good recipe to try. It is important to use the egg at room temperature when mixing it with coconut oil. The oil is liquid only at room temperature; when mixed into a cold liquid such as cold milk or eggs, it will solidify. This makes it very difficult to turn this mixture into a cookie dough. Lastly, we made this recipe two different ways: One using regular sugar, and once using sugar substitute (stevia was our choice). Both methods turned out fantastic! We noticed that with the sugar substitute, you need a little more time in the oven, so if choosing this method just carefully watch your cookies while they are in the oven. .
Don’t feel like you have to fill them with chocolate chips either! The choice is completely yours! You can choose jam, chopped nuts, dried fruits, or even an extra tiny dollop of peanut butter. Share with us what you decided to fill your cookies with and post in the comments’ section below. We can’t wait to hear about your version of this old- time, traditional cookie.
Thumbprint Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips
1 cup of whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon of baking powder
½ tablespoon of coconut oil
1 egg at room temperature
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
½ cup of sugar or equivalent in sugar substitute
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ cup milk of your choice
Whisk egg at room temperature and add peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla and sugar. Mix well, and then slowly add in wheat flour mixed with baking powder. Finally, add milk as needed to form dough. You may need a little more than a ½ cup for a smooth dough. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time into small rounds. Using the back of a ¼ teaspoon create small wells in each cookie, or just use your thumb! Then fill each with chocolate chips or your favorite jam. Bake them in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-20 minutes. Store cookies in airtight container for up to 4 days.