Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies (Poland/Eastern Europe/Sweden)

I had plans to bake this weekend. Big plans! But as usual, other commitments got in the way and I got off to a late start. Tomorrow will be a baking extravaganza, but for today, I got started with my Rocky Road Fudge and these thumbprint cookies. 

Thumbprint cookies may not necessarily be strictly part of a holiday culture, but they don make great holiday cookies because they are so pretty to look at and the flavor combinations can vary greatly. 

There is some dispute about where these cookies actually come from. Some say they originate from Poland, some say they were the creation of Eastern European Jews. Others still say they are a variation of the Swedish cookie Hallongrotta which translates to “raspberry cave” because of the placement of the jam.

Thumbprint cookies are named because you form the dough and use your thumb to create a divot where the filling goes. Fillings are usually jam but can really be anything.

For this particular recipe, I took the easy way out. I don’t know about you, but my schedule tends to get packed around this time of year and making multiple batches of cookies and treats makes me want to take some shortcuts here and there. That’s why these are so perfect.

I simply made a variation on cake mix cookies

I used 1 box of chocolate cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Mix together until combined. 

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use your thumb to lightly press the balls down. Since these aren’t normal thumbprint cookies, the indent won’t actually stay, but the slight flattening is what you want anyway.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

While they are still warm, press in a peppermint Kiss. They will start to melt, but leave them alone and as they cool, the Kisses will solidify again.

This is a fun job for the kiddos.

I made 2 dozen cookies in about 30 minutes this way and they taste delicious so no one will know that you took a shortcut. But even if they did, no one would care.

They would just ask for more! 


Sugar Cookies 

My mom makes some pretty stellar sugar cookies. I always loved making sugar cookies with her growing up, but I’m sure she probably could have made more cookies out of each batch if I wasn’t around. You see, I’m a dough eater from way back. I just can’t help myself, salmonella be damned.

That’s how I knew these cookies were going to be delicious: the dough. They had the perfect amount of sweetness where you could eat them plain or put sprinkles or frosting on them. I played around with the amounts a little, but I think I hit just the right note with the amount of sugar and vanilla. The vanilla is what really makes these, I think.

For this batch I made fox cookies. My son’s elementary school’s mascot is the fox and my husband is on a softball team made up of dads from the school (the “Foxy Dads”) and I made these for the last game of the season. When I saw this fox cookie cutter at Williams-Sonoma, I knew I had to have it. I figured, by the time both kids have gone through 5th grade, we’ll have been involved in the elementary school for about 8 years so there will be plenty of opportunities to use it. I’m not sure what the middle school mascot is, but the high school is the Centaurs. Maybe by the time my kids are in high school, Williams-Sonoma will have come out with a half man-half horse cookie cutter. I’ll have to keep my eyes open…

Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and egg and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add this a little bit at a time to the mixer and mix until well combined.

Separate the dough in half (to make it easier to work with). On a floured surface, roll out your dough to about a 1/4″ thick. I like my cookies on the softer side, so I make the dough a bit thicker. If you like a crisper cookie, make the dough a bit thinner.

Use whatever shape cookie cutter you want to cut out the cookies.

Put the cut out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 8-9 minutes. If you do a thinner cookie, you’ll probably want more of a 7-8 minute baking time. Start on the lower end and then if you need to add more time, you can.


Move the cookies to a rack to cool before frosting.


For decorating, if you want to add sprinkles, you can do this before you bake them. If you want to frost them, you can do it your usual way or try my trick. When I don’t make my own frosting, I like to take the canned kind from the grocery store and put however much I need in a bowl. Then microwave it in 15 second increments until it is just melted.

Then I just sort of smooth it on with the back of a spoon. I just really like how smooth the frosting comes out when I do it this way.

These were so good. I will definitely be making these in Christmas shapes later. And probably in other shapes all year round for whatever reason I can come up with. Like a party or another holiday. Or, you know, a Tuesday.

*Bonus: you can freeze the dough to use later. Just make sure it is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and put in a freezer bag. It should be good for about 2 months