brown butter thumbprint cookies and a virtual cookie exchange


One of my favorite things about the holidays is the baking. I like to bake ordinarily, but somehow baking during the holidays becomes something else entirely. I feel immediately nostalgic for weekend afternoons as a child, helping my mom bake numerous batches of Russian teacakes, chocolate crinkle cookies, sugar cookies and, one of my favorites, thumbprint cookies. My mom has always been an incredible cook and although she did bake during the year generally, she always kicked it up a notch during the holidays and really went for it, compiling beautiful tins of a variety of homemade sweets for her coworkers and friends. I cherished those afternoons in the kitchen with her and my sis, listening to Christmas music {my sis and I were weirdly obsessed with all of the Winter Solstice CDs that came out in the 90s}, going overboard with sugar cookie decoration and sampling a few too many treats along the way.

This past weekend, I informed Matt that I simply had to spend the entire Sunday holed up in our apartment, with the fire blazing, the Nutcracker Suite blaring, in my apron and slippers baking away. It was wonderful, and made the holidays somehow feel much more real. I decided to go with an updated version of my mom’s thumbprint cookies – I added brown butter to the dough, and filled half of them with a deliciously tart homemade lime curd and the other half with a gorgeous store-bought black currant jam. Both were equally delicious – the nuttiness of the brown butter contrasted beautifully with the acidity of the curd/jam. A bonus of making the curd is that it can also be gifted along with these cookies, to be spread on toast, scones or served alongside poundcake. 

I am also participating in a virtual cookie exchange today, a brilliant idea conceived by my dear friend Victoria of vmac + cheese – nine other fellow bloggers, each with gorgeous sites, will share a holiday cookie recipe today – please head on over to their sites to check them out!




Brown Butter Thumbprint Cookies

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Lime curd {recipe below} or your favorite jam or preserves {I used black currant jam}

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until its solids begin to brown and smell nutty; pour into a small bowl, scraping bottom of pan for any browned bits, and refrigerate until solid. Place solidified brown butter in a bowl along with the sugar, and beat on high speed of a hand mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and salt and beat on low speed until just combined. Using a l-oz. ice cream scoop or 2 tablespoons, portion and shape dough into 1″ balls and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing balls 2″ apart. Using your index finger or the end of a wooden spoon, press into balls to create a deep well; refrigerate cookies until well-chilled, at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375°F. If using jam, fill cavities of each cookie with some of the jam {if using fresh curd, do not fill the cavities before baking}. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through cooking, until dry to the touch and golden brown on the bottom, about 14 to 16 minutes; let cool completely. If using fresh lime curd, fill cavities of each cookie with some of the lime curd {recipe below}.

Lime Curd

  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lime zest
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Whisk together sugar, zest, egg yolks, and egg in a 2-qt. saucepan until smooth; whisk in lime juice, and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to the consistency of loose pudding; remove from heat, add butter, and whisk until smooth. Transfer to small bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd; refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 2 hours.

From Saveur










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27 Responses to brown butter thumbprint cookies and a virtual cookie exchange

  1. Pingback: Cookie Swap: Dark Chocolate, Orange, Almond Biscotti | Cupcakes for Breakfast

  2. Beautiful, am making these today! I love holiday baking and needed a good thumbprint recipe. this looks fantastic. Happy Holidays!

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  7. annie tucker says:

    these are precious and look so yummy! can’t wait to try!

  8. Pingback: Almond Sugar Cookies | lark&linen

  9. Lilly Sue says:

    Yum, yum yum! I love thumbprint cookies. I’m making a batch this year too. I like the sounds of lemon curd- I could eat that by the spoonfuls 🙂 my mom and I are baking cookies together tomorrow. I’m excited! Also, Russian tea cakes are so my favorite!! I love them so much and in excited for the first batch of those 🙂

  10. I’ve never made thumbprint cookies before, but they are on my list! Yours look great!

  11. Love the virtual cookie exchange idea! These look amazing!

  12. Skye says:

    It’s raining cookies!!!! LOVE the idea of a virtual cookie exchange and think that these look both delicious and adorable… I mean brown butter is pretty irresistible…

  13. radhika25 says:

    They look like tiny drops of sunshine! Beautiful!

  14. Not only beautiful, but totally my kind of cookie. Amazing thumbprint cookie.

  15. laurasmess says:

    I know exactly what you mean about spending a day baking… I love doing it, particularly when the weather is cold and I can hear the rain against the tin roof. This summer my Christmas baking was done on a ridiculously hot day. I was sweating (our airconditioning doesn’t work well in humidity) and my nose started to bleed! I did enjoy it nonetheless… with a glass of cold cider and ice in my hand! Ah, I miss northern hemisphere Christmases. Maybe next year we’ll go travelling 😉 Love the look of your beautifully bright cookies. The lemon curd in particular looks heavenly! Thanks for the recipe lovely x

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