Perfect Thumbprint Cookies


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup unsifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup white sugar, or as needed
  • ½ cup fruit jam, divided
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon milk, or as needed
  • Directions

  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).


  • Step 2

    Mix butter and powdered sugar together with a rubber spatula until creamy. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, and egg yolk. Mix with the spatula. Add flour and blend until just combined.

  • Step 3

    Use a sorbet scoop to portion dough into 1/2-ounce (1-tablespoon) balls. Roll balls in a plate of white sugar to coat; roll again between your palms. Place several inches apart on a silicone-lined baking sheet. Flatten balls lightly with your fingers.

  • Step 4

    To make shortbread cookies with a little jam, poke a well into each cookie using the end of a thick wooden spoon dusted with powdered sugar or using one of your fingers. Fill cookies with fruit jam. Tap baking sheet against the counter to let jam settle.

  • Step 5

    Bake in the preheated oven until tops are barely blonde and bottoms are slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before icing.

  • Step 6

    Meanwhile, mix powdered sugar with a little milk until you have a consistency that will hold its shape when piped. Pipe icing on top of cookies in a zigzag pattern. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

  • Step 7

    For a more jam-forward cookie, press your thumb into the cookies to make large, shallow indentations. Spoon in jam. Tap baking sheet against the counter.

  • Step 8

    Bake until not quite golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let rest on pan for 5 minutes before transferring a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar.

  • Chef's Notes:

    For best results, do not chill the dough.

    For the icing, feel free to use water instead of milk.

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