As if classic thumbprints needed a boost, here’s a version with the addition of cream cheese for a tangy, rich cookie filled with your favorite jam flavors, including apricot, raspberry and wild blueberry; roll in finely chopped pecans or almond slices to add texture and crunch. A few tips to keep in mind when getting started: Make sure the butter and cream cheese are softened ahead of time. Softened butter and cream cheese can be kept at “room temp” if the temperature is around or just under 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the temp at which butter begins to melt. Properly softened butter should still feel cold but hold a thumbprint when pressed; or it should offer little resistance when cut with a knife. If you need to soften quickly, unwrap butter and cream cheese and — separately — give each a quick blast in the microwave at 10-second intervals until just softened but not warm. Leave enough time to properly chill the dough, first after mixing and then again after shaping. If you want perfectly round cookies, use a tablespoon measure to scoop dough before rolling. These will keep, in an airtight container, up to a week, if they last that long. — Kim Sunée
Cream cheese thumbprint cookies
Makes 30 to 34 cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (315g)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 (8-ounce) package full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temp (about 68-70 degrees F)
1/2 cup/1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar (150g)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temp
3/4 cup jam, such as raspberry, apricot, blueberry, etc.
1 cup finely chopped pecans or almond slices
Powdered sugar, for dusting
• Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
• In a large bowl using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat softened cream cheese on medium-high until completely smooth and creamy, one to two minutes. Add softened butter and beat until combined, one minute, scraping down the sides of bowl, as needed. Add granulated sugar and beat on medium-high until creamy, about two minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined, one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend, as needed.
• Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until combined. Dough will be creamy and sticky. Cover the bowl or roll the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill the dough at least two hours and up to 48 hours.
• When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
• Remove the dough from fridge and roll the dough into balls, 1 tablespoon each. If the dough gets sticky, very lightly dip fingers in all-purpose flour or powdered sugar as you work. Roll each ball into chopped pecans or sliced almonds. Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 to 3 inches between cookies. Using your thumb or the round end of a small wooden pestle or spoon dipped in flour, make a well in center of each cookie. Fill each indentation with about a half teaspoon jam; be careful not to overfill as the jam will spread while baking. Place the baking sheets in the fridge — or on an outside table if it’s cold out — for at least 10 minutes while the oven heats to 350 degrees.
• When the oven is to temp, bake cookies, switching between lower and upper racks and rotating pans halfway through for even baking, until golden, about 13 to 15 minutes. Ovens vary, so check cookies after 12 minutes. Cookies should be golden and very lightly browned around the edges. Cool cookies on baking sheets for five minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Let cool before dusting with powdered sugar.
Note: Cookies can be baked ahead and cooled completely before being stored, in an airtight container, at room temperature up to three days or in the fridge for one week.