Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

December 15, 2015
Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt - A welcome addition to any cookie tray. Fragrant vanilla-almond shortbread filled with a rich, salty chocolate center

I remember trying not to

shoo them out of the kitchen ..

Holiday Cookies 1-650x

Photo Credit: Food52

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The days when my kids were young .. and holiday cookie making was underway.

An opportunity to start a tradition .. while instilling in them the beauty of giving to and nourishing others .. through both their hearts .. and their tummies

But soon I'd glance at the floured footie prints .. as he skipped through the house .. or the sprinkles she'd decided looked better on her puppy .. instead of the cookies.  In those moments all I could think about was that the gingerbread men needed to come out in five .. and quickly now .. off to vacuum the dog before our hot chocolate turned cold

Some years I wouldn't say it was going well .. not really

Part of me realized it wouldn't always be this way.  Knowing some afternoons I'd have the patience and stamina to whip up a batch of Christmas cookies together .. letting them measure everything with their unsteady hands and oh-so generous math.

Knowing some afternoons I wouldn't think twice about the mess

Knowing some afternoons .. I would

Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt - A welcome addition to any cookie tray. Fragrant vanilla-almond shortbread filled with a rich, salty chocolate center

There were years when cookie cutters were washed in the puppy's dish .. and pretty gift boxes were fashioned instead .. into hats and swords.  It was during those years that I decided even the best of traditions .. at times .. could use a bit of ..


A beautiful compromise was born .. they worked in their kitchen .. and I worked in mine

As I frosted .. he stirred chocolate stew

As I rolled and shaped .. she mixed some pretty incredible(!) snow ice cream

As I sprinkled .. she baked a pb & j

Together .. but separate

Separate .. but still together

Holiday Cookies 3-650x

Photo Credit: Instagram – @cassiedrake

Admittedly .. there were years when I silently reprimanded myself for moving the Easy Bake Oven and Barbie Baking Center into the dining room.  Years when I allotted the entire weekend to allow for the extra messiness .. or martyred my way though .. sighing through every spill .. and deviation from the preferred plan.

Years when I believed a “good mom” would never shoo her children out of the kitchen .. or feel pangs of frustration over a mess of flour and sugar

I wish it'd been before they were teenagers .. until I was finally able to see .. and stop believing in the lies offered to us by the world .. those that tell us what a “good mom” should be.

Realizing instead .. that we can only do the best we can .. when we're able .. with what we have

Realizing it's fine to guard and protect the parts of our days that we love.. to keep them for ourselves.  Transforming holiday baking .. into a time that's carved out for ourselves.

All of the baking .. nibbling .. frosting .. and stirring.  Making it as beautiful and enjoyable as we're able .. with or without sprinkly fingers that want to help

Blowing them a kiss from our kitchen as they work away in their own

Realizing .. that's learning too

Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt - A welcome addition to any cookie tray. Fragrant vanilla-almond shortbread filled with a rich, salty chocolate center

Thumbprints are a cookie I remember seeing on countless cookie trays around the holidays when I was a kid.  It's hard to go wrong with a buttery shortbread cookie .. and a little something fun in the middle.

Instead of a more traditional jam .. this recipe fills the indents with a puddle of dark chocolate and a sprinkling of flakey sea salt.  A combination that really works well.  The rich .. salty chocolate center is wonderful against the fragrant vanilla-almond shortbread.

Like most shortbread cookies .. they keep remarkably well .. making them perfect for gifting or making in advance for a holiday party.  Tightly covered .. they'll be great for at least a week .. that is .. if that last that long



ps:  The secret to a really good cookie?  Let the dough rest 72 hours before baking your cookies .. here

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~ Adapted from Food52

Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24 Cookies
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature + 2 tablespoons (for chocolate filling)
  • ¼ cup fine-grain natural can sugar
  • 1 egg
  • finely grated zest from 1 small lemon (organic will be important here)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 2 tsp golden syrup (or honey)
  • fine-grain sea salt + more to taste
  1. Almond Thumbprint Cookies
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Line two small baking sheets (or one large one) with parchment paper.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together almond meal and flour
  5. In another small bowl, combine lemon zest with sugar. With the tips of your fingers, rub the zest and sugar together until they’re well integrated.
  6. Combine the butter, egg, and lemon zest/sugar mix in the bowl of a stand or hand mixer.
  7. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (~ 3 minutes), stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula.
  8. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few more seconds.
  9. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low, and add the almond meal-flour mixture a little at a time. Beat just until the dough has just come together, being careful not to over-mix.
  10. Scoop teaspoon-sized balls of dough (a melon scoop works well) and roll them to form small balls.
  11. Place the balls about 2” apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  12. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. (** Make sure you don't press through the dough, but make sure the centers are plenty deep and wide to hold the chocolate filling)
  13. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are only slightly colored around the edges, be careful to not over-bake. (About 10 minutes in, I often check the thumbprint indentations -- if they seem too shallow, remove the cookie sheet and depress the centers while the dough is still soft. The curved back of a melon scoop or teaspoon works well.)
  14. When done, remove the baking sheets from the oven and transfer the cookies to cooling racks. (One trick to doing this is to keep the cookies on the parchment paper, and slide the parchment onto the cooling rack)

  15. Dark Chocolate Filling
  16. Using a double boiler, or a small heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate, 2 Tbsp butter, and golden syrup.
  17. Stir until melted and smooth.
  18. Cool slightly

  19. Finish the Cookies
  20. When the cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate filling, and then sprinkle them with sea salt.
  21. Allow about an hour for the chocolate centers to set.
Nutritional Data by %
% Protein: 7
% Carbs: 36
% Fat: 3
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Cookie (1/24 Total Recipe) Calories: 83 Fat: 5.41 Carbohydrates: 7.56 Sugar: 3.43 Protein: 1.55

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