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Cherry Thumbprint Christmas Cookie Recipe

This Cherry Thumbprint Christmas Cookie recipe is a variation on the traditional thumbprint cookie – small rolled cookies with wells pressed in the center, filled with a scrumptious topping. While old-fashioned thumbprint cookies typically hold jam and jellies, these cookies feature a festive candied cherry in the center.

Cherry Thumbprint Christmas Cookies

Prep time: 30-40 minutes

Bake time: 10-12 minutes

Makes about 3 dozen cookies


½ cup butter or margarine, room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg, separated

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

Dash of salt

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Candied cherries (red or green), cut in half


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease baking sheets.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl continually, about 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

  5. Reduce speed to low. Gradually stir flour mixture into creamed mixture a bit at a time until well blended, scraping the bowl constantly, until well mixed. Dough will be thick.

  6. In a small bowl, beat egg white until frothy.

  7. Set chopped pecans in a separate bowl next to the egg white mixture.

  8. Scoop dough into large, marble-sized balls. Roll balls in between the palms of your hands until smooth. Set the balls in the bowl with beaten egg white, 3 or 4 at a time, to coat. Transfer balls to the bowl containing the chopped pecans. Use a spoon to gently roll balls, making sure they are completely covered with nuts.

  9. Place balls on baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Press your thumb in the center of each ball, leaving a slight indentation.  Place a candied cherry half in the indentation, pressing it down slightly to secure it in the cookie.

  10. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they are set but have not begun to brown. Remove baking sheets from the oven.

  11. Let cookies cool for a minute on baking sheets before using a spatula to remove them from the sheet to a cooling rack.

  12. Allow cookies to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

A Special Tip from The Elf

You will have the greatest success with this Cherry Thumbprint Christmas Cookie recipe when you do two things:

1. Make sure balls are no more than 1 inch in diameter, closer to ½ inch or ¾ inch.

2. Chop the pecans very finely to ensure that they adhere to the cookies and cover them completely before you press your thumbprint in the center. You may even wish to pulse them in a food processor to pulverize them.

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