The easiest and best recipe I know for German thumbprint cookies with jam. A classic thumbprint cookie recipe that everybody should make.
Only five ingredients and less than half an hour of actual work and you will be rewarded with some of the best cookies I know classic thumbprint cookies or Engelsaugen (Angel's Eyes) in German or ochi de pisica (Cat's Eyes) in Romanian.
Different names in different languages, but basically the same recipe for the same cookies; these thumbprint cookies seem to be traditional in many countries.
These are indeed cookies I used to eat from time to time as a child as well. My grandmother never made them, she never baked anything sweet except her famous Cozonac – Romanian sweet bread with walnuts (which I didn't like at all in my childhood... figure that!).
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As mentioned above, you will only need 5 ingredients to make the classic thumbprint cookie recipe.
- All-purpose flour
- Unsalted butter: In Germany, many people use margarine as well when making thumbprint cookies or any other German cookies, but I am not a fan; I rarely use margarine for anything.
- Sugar: You will need regular sugar for the cookie dough and a sprinkle of icing sugar for the baked thumbprint cookies. The icing sugar is optional.
- Jam or jelly: Use whatever jelly or jam you have and like, but preferably a tarter kind of jam.
- My favorite is redcurrant jam. However, I made these classic thumbprint cookies with plum or cheery butter and with blackberry or raspberry jelly as well.
- Ideally, you will use jellies as they are smoother and look better in the end, but as far as taste is concerned, it really doesn't matter if you use jam or jelly. To make the jam a bit smoother, I whizzed it in the kitchen machine for a few seconds.
How to make thumbprint cookies?
Well, you will have a hard time finding an easier cookie recipe. Cookies are generally very easy to make, but these thumbprint cookies are even easier than most cookies: no fancy ingredients, just basic, cheap ones, no need to place the dough in the fridge for a while before baking, no cutters necessary, you basically cannot go wrong with these thumbprint cookies.
- For best results, you should use a scale for measuring the ingredients. A kitchen scale (the Amazon affiliate link opens in a new tab) is really inexpensive, and it makes life so much easier. The baking process will be smoother, more pleasant and the results superior.
- And if you don't measure the flour exactly and have too little of it, the cookies might spread too much during baking. If you have too much flour, the cookies will be tough and not as delicate as they are supposed to be.
How to make the dough
- Place the flour, butter/margarine, sugar and egg into the bowl of a stand mixer and process shortly until the mixture resembles streusel. You can use a regular bowl and a hand mixer as well.
- Turn the dough onto the working surface and knead very shortly to bring the dough together and form a ball.
- Break small pieces of dough and form little balls about as large as a cherry.
- Press with the thumb in the middle of each ball to form a well.
- Add a small amount of jelly or jam into each well using a teaspoon.
- Place the first batch of thumbprint cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven before you start making the cookies.
- Place one batch of thumbprint cookies on the baking tray and place it in the oven.
- While this first batch of cookies bakes, you can already make the second batch and place the cookies on the second tray lined with baking paper.
- Having at least two baking trays or cookie sheets when making cookies is important unless you only bake a very small batch every time.
- I have three baking trays and three cooling racks and sometimes I wish I would have one more of each to make the cookie baking process faster and easier.
- Bake the thumbprint cookies with jam for about 10 to 15 minutes until very slightly golden. Check the first batch repeatedly after the first 10 minutes, the cookies should not get too dark, they should remain pretty pale.
- Leave the baked cookies to rest on the baking tray for about 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Don't place the second batch of cookies on the hot baking tray; you run the risk that the cookies will spread. Let the tray cool completely, or use another tray.
- When cold, dust with icing sugar, if you wish.
How to store?
The classic thumbprint cookies should be kept in airtight containers, between sheets of waxed paper (or parchment paper), so that the jam won't stick on the bottom side of the upper layer of cookies.
They will keep for at least one week in an airtight container.
Other German cookie recipes
German Thumbprint Cookies
- 300 g all-purpose flour 10.6 oz/ 2 ½ cups
- 200 g unsalted butter 7 oz/ ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon, room temperature
- 100 g sugar 3.5 oz/ ½ cup
- 1 egg medium Germany, large US
- jelly or jam of choice preferably a tart variety (I used redcurrant jam)
- icing sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Dough: Place the flour, soft butter, sugar, and egg into the stand mixer bowl and process shortly until the mixture resembles streusel. Alternatively, mix the dough in a regular bowl with a hand mixer.
- Form cookies: Turn the dough onto the working surface and knead very shortly to bring the dough together and form a ball. Break small pieces of dough and form little balls about as large as a cherry. Press with the thumb in the middle of each ball to create a well.
- Fill with jelly: Mix the jelly or jam very well with a spoon to make it smooth and easily spreadable. Next, add a small amount of jelly or jam into each well using a teaspoon.
- Bake: Place the first batch of thumbprint cookies on one of the prepared baking trays. Next, place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes until very slightly golden. Check the first batch repeatedly after the first 10 minutes, the cookies should not get too dark, they should remain pretty pale.
- Second batch: While the first batch of cookies is in the oven, prepare the second batch. Place the new batch on the second prepared tray (never place the cookies on a hot baking tray, they will spread too much).
- Rest: Leave the baked cookies on the baking tray for about 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cool dust with icing sugar, if you wish.
- Store: They will keep for at least one week in an airtight container, arranged between sheets of waxed or parchment paper.