I’ve admitted on here before that sometimes, a recipe will appear on this blog solely because there was a kitchen gadget that I really wanted, and finally decided to treat myself and get.
This is one of those times.
I’ve made probably a literal ton of Christmas cookies over the years, but haven’t thumbprint cookies aren’t apart of that number, for a really simple, but petty reason:
I wanted them to look good, and (in my opinion) most thumbprint cookies that are made from simply pressing your thumb down into a ball of dough, don’t.
I know, I know. It’s really petty. But what can I say, you guys: I’m a Libra.
But in any case, this year I finally decided to solve my petty problem by ‘splurging’ and buying myself a kitchen gadget specifically designed to produce ‘pretty’ thumbprint cookies.
Those gadgets were a set of three cookie stamps that are specially designed to create the thumbprint for you, while also creating a neat design into the cookie dough.
This is not one of those paid advertisement/partnership blog posts, but I still gotta tell you, those stamps were worth every penny. They gave me exactly what I was looking for in terms of aesthetics, and the taste of the cookie itself only served to surpass that.
The crumb of these cookies is tight, ‘short’ (ha; see what I did there?), and tender. The brown sugar in the dough gives the shortbread a really rich, caramel-y flavor that is complemented by the nutty flavor of the pecans. And just when you think they couldn’t get better, you get a pop of tart, fruity flavor from the dollop of cranberry sauce in the middle.
(And yes; it is worth it to go with the cranberry sauce over the preserves. They just taste more Christmas-y that way.)
Don’t forget about the other 6 recipes already shared in this week’s 12 Days of Christmas; see below!
Day 7: Pecan Shortbread Linzer Cookies
Pecan Shortbread Linzer Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean apste
- 1/2 cup finely ground pecans (from 2/3 cup whole pecans)
- 1 cup fruit preserves, or fresh cranberry sauce; I used this one.
Special equipment: Thump-print cookie stamps; I used this one.
In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, the cornstarch, salt, and spices. Stir together with a fork, then set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla, then the pecans, mixing just until combined.
Turn dough out onto work surface and form into two large flat squares; wrap with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (I refrigerated my dough overnight)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
Place a nonstick baking mat on work surface. Place one square chilled dough on baking mat; top with a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Roll out dough between baking mat and plastic wrap or parchment paper until it is 1/2-inch-thick.
Dip the cookie stamp into flour or powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough, then gently remove stamped cookie and place on reserved lined sheet pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.
Freeze cut out cookie dough for 25-30 minutes.
Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake, about 10 minutes. Halfway through baking, check cookies, as you may need to gently press down on the indentation mark to keep it from puffing up (I used a teaspoon measure for this).
Once finished baking, transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
Use a teaspoon measure spoon to carefully spoon preserves/cranberry sauce into thumbprint indentation. (An alternate, less messy way is to fill a quart size plastic bag with preserves/sauce, snip off a corner of the bag, then ‘pipe’ the preserves/sauce into the thumb print.)
(Note: You don’t HAVE to use cookie stamps for this recipe. I think it would work just as well without it. As an alternative, when you are finished making the dough, scoop it into heaping tablespoon-sized balls and place on a parchment lined surface. Refrigerate for about an hour. Remove the dough balls from the fridge, and use your thumb or the rounded back of a teaspoon to gently press an indent in the center of the cookie dough. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. Place back in the fridge to chill overnight. Bake as directed in the recipe.
Also, no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)