A Taste of Childhood: Thumbprint Cookies for Valentine's Day Treats

I hate to be an alarmist, but the Mister was listening to a podcast this morning of NPR's "Planet Money," and, y'all, on top of everything else, there's a worldwide chocolate shortage!  And right here at Valentine's Day, too.


If you, like me, find it difficult to celebrate holidays without a little bit of candy, then this news is rather distressing. I'm sure the ubiquitous Valentine Conversation Hearts are still plentiful. I mean, does anyone really eat those? I consider them purely decorative as is the case with most non-chocolate candies.
Except Twizzlers, which are neither decorative nor edible. I have a sweet and charming co-worker who always keeps candy on her desk, and most of the time it's individually wrapped Twizzlers. All day long, I see staff members slip into her office to pick up a Twizzler. I am not even tempted. Twizzlers are the liver and onions of the candy world.

In light of the disturbing news about chocolate, I thought I'd share one of my favorite (and chocolate free) childhood cookies. These make perfect Valentine treats.

thumbprint cookies

When I was a young girl, my mother bought our groceries in a small shopping center that included Bowen's Jewelers, Henderson Drugs, Coffin's Shoes, the S&H Green Stamps Store, Nancy Lynn Fashions, Crenshaw's Children's Clothes, and, best of all, Wade's Bakery.

Wade's was a Knoxville tradition for fancy cakes, but occasionally my mother would take my brother and me for a cookie or small treat. Walking in the sparkling white store, I would breathe deeply the heavenly aroma of butter and sugar before selecting something from the gleaming cases. Usually, my choice would be three thumbprint cookies, one yellow, one pink, and one green, each wrapped in white parchment and tucked into a tiny white sack. So short, these buttery cookies crumbled easily, but the pastel tinted icing held them together until we got home. Or back to the car. Okay, out of the store.

Wade's thumbprint cookies were a staple at wedding and baby showers, too, either tinted to match the bride's color scheme or decorated in a balanced mix of pink and blue to await the new arrival. I think they were available in red and green at Christmastime, too.

After some tinkering, I came up with my own thumbprint cookie recipe. I think it's just right.              

To make a batch for your own Valentines, you'll need:

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks (reserve whites for another use)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecan meal or 3/4 cup pecans, chopped very fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.


Cream the butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract.

recipe for thumbprint cookies

Gradually add the flour and pecan meal (or chopped pecans). Don't overmix.


The dough will be very stiff.

how to make thumbprint cookies

Roll the dough into one-inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.


Depress the center of each cookie with your thumb.

baking thumbprint cookies

Bake until just golden on the bottom, about 10 minutes.
Allow to cool completely while you mix up the confectioner's sugar icing. 

For the icing you'll need:
1 cup sifted 10x sugar
2 Tbsp milk (or 1 Tbsp milk, 1 Tbsp lemon juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well.

icing for thumbprint cookies

Divide the icing, depending on how many colors you plan to use. I wanted to make pink and light pink cookies, and this amount was just enough. If you plan to decorate with more colors, you may want to double the icing recipe.

Valentine thumbprint cookies

Use a tablespoon to decorate the cookies, and allow the icing to "set" before moving.


I used Valentine cupcake liners to pack the cookies in a kraft paper bakery box,

Valentine's thumbprint cookies

tied them up with some grosgrain ribbon,


and headed out to share the love with some sweet friends! 

Do you have a favorite childhood cookie? Are you making any special treats for Valentine's Day?



5 comments:

  1. I didn't know you were back! Hullo, and thanks for peeking your head in as a hint!

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  2. Thanks, Lisa. I've been lurking on Privilege during the interim, mostly via Feedly. It's good to be back, and I appreciate your taking time to say "Hullo." Happy Valentine's Day!

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are gorgeous and so is your packaging! Thank you for sharing the photos and your recipe.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. I know this is an old post, so I hope you see this!

    I've been searching FOREVER to find a cookie recipe close to the thumbprint cookies sold at my hometown bakery (they are my sister's favorite, but she cannot have gluten anymore due to a allergy). After countless batches of cookies that just weren't right, I found yours and the recipe is almost identical!

    A question about the icing (the other part of this cookie that seems impossible to duplicate)-- does your icing solidify in the middle or does the top harden, but the inside remain runny? The icing I'm looking for has a smooth, solid, melt-in-your-mouth consistency and looks very much like yours. However, when I made an icing very similar to yours (actually many recipes), it was still runny in the middle. I don't know if I'm all thumbs at making icing or if that's the desired effect.

    I really would appreciate any guidance you could offer me. Especially since your recipe is so close to theirs!
    Layla

    ReplyDelete

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