The holiday season is a free for all for overindulging in anything and everything sweet or savory. One of my favorite classic Christmas cookie recipe starts with a young Linda Lu (my mom’s nickname) who was determined to skip school on a cold December day in 7th grade. After coming up with a little white lie about feeling under the weather, she found herself alone for the day and the house to herself. Her plan had worked! Once everyone left, Linda was determined to make the most of her time to herself which included admiring the family Christmas tree (see where I get it from?). To continue on with her Christmas themed day off, she cracked open the 1966 Better Home’s and Gardens “Cookies and Candies” cookbook. As she scrolled through, she landed on Thumbprint Cookies. One, because they looked scrumptious and two, because the recipe supported the ingredients they had in the house. These little decadent cookies have been a classic Christmas staple ever since.
Before writing this post, I wanted to make sure I had the facts straight. In my imagination, I always envisioned her and my Grandma spending time together to make these. A recipe that was passed down to my Grandma or even Great Grandma. Nope! This tradition was created based on a day of playing hooky.
My mom is the core reason why I love Christmas so much. Every year, I watched this talented woman string garland around the banisters, hang perfectly tied bows to the tree, and illuminate every corner of the house with a flameless candle. I still have no idea how she manages to wrap every present with perfection. She has always gone the extra mile to make things as magical as possible. Including one year, leaving a Nutcracker doll under the tree as an early Christmas present from Santa. I love and cherish the memories and traditions that we share but what I love even more now is watching her as a Grandma and passing down tradition, old and new, to my nieces and nephew.
Basic Thumbprint Cookies
- In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill for about 1 hour or until dough are easy to handle.
- Preheat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheets.
- Shape dough into 1 inch balls. if desired, roll balls in egg whites, then in walnuts to coat. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in each dough ball.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are light brown.
- If cookie centers puff during baking, re-press centers with the rounded side of a measuring teaspoon.
- Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely. Just before serving, fill centers with jam or whichever filling you choose.