One of my favorite things about Christmas baking is making the cookies bite sized.  This size is the perfect party cookie, allowing you to fill a small plate of assorted cookies, pop one into your mouth, and continue on your merry way, engaging in conversations, creating memories, or singing carols with your friends.  I also like my cookie trays to look simple and natural, with small pops of colors.  However, when we attempted to tint the frosting in this Thumbprint cookie green and red for a more festive look, the garishness of the frosting made the cookies less appealing.

The following recipe was adapted by my husband and I the first year we were married.  Instead of jam, we decided to balance out the buttery shortbread cookie crusted with walnuts with buttercream frosting.  It soon became a hit with my friends and family.  This cookie freezes well, but I recommend tray freezing them after frosting to keep them looking as pretty as they are delicious.

Photo Credit by Margaret Collins

Thumbprint Cookies

2 c. all-purpose flour

½ c. firmly packed brown sugar   

1 c. butter, softened                                                               

2 eggs, separated                    

1/8 t. salt                                                                                 

1 t. vanilla                                     

2 c. finely chopped walnuts (best if chopped in food processor)

Preheat oven to 350⁰.  Cream butter and sugar.  Setting the egg whites aside, add the egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until well combined.  Add the flour and salt, mix for 2-3 minutes longer, scraping the bowl down until all ingredients are combined.  Shape dough into round 1-inch balls.  In a small bowl, beat egg whites until frothy.  Dip each ball of dough into egg white and then roll in chopped walnuts.  Place on a parchment-covered cookie sheet.  Make a small depression in the center of each cookie with back of a teaspoon.  Bake for 7-8 minutes, until the center of the cookie looks set.  After they have cooled, pipe centers with buttercream frosting.

Michele’s Buttercream Frosting (this recipe is from my friend Michele Cassaday)

1/3 c. butter                                                      

1 ½ t. vanilla

4 ½ c. sifted powdered sugar                     

¼ c. milk

Beat butter till fluffy.  Add 2 c. powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Then slowly add the rest of the powdered sugar.  Thin out with additional milk if needed to achieve the right consistency.

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