These classic Christmas cookies add that bit of sparkle and shine that every holiday cookie plate needs!
Oh hello there. Are you recovered from the Thanksgiving holiday and ready to immediately roll into holiday baking? Yeah, I hear you. This year is moving at hyper speed and the holidays aren’t waiting for us to catch our breath.
As a kid, the anticipation of the Christmas holiday was almost as much fun as the day itself. Watching Rudolph and Frosty on tv was the unofficial start to the holiday. Now, Youtube and on demand watching have diminished the excitement of waiting for our favorite holiday shows to air, but just knowing that Rudolph will be playing at 8 pm tonight has triggered an almost pavlovian response in me.
One step into the Land of Misfit Toys and I immediately feel the need to get the house holiday ready. I’ll be digging out my wreaths, white twinkle lights and garland. I’ll position my boys just so and drive them crazy while I snap away trying to find the perfect photo to grace our holiday card. I’ll be compiling my Christmas baking list and packaging up homemade candied nuts for gift-giving.
Mixed in with some new cookie recipes I’ll be testing this year will be some holiday favorites. I’m going deep into my recipe box and digging out the tattered, handwritten recipe cards of my youth. These were the tried and true favorites that I baked with my mom every year…snowballs, Italian cookies and of course, thumbprint cookies. We made a couple variations of thumbprints…a cream cheese dough sans nuts and a buttery, nutty version that I’m sharing with you today. As I recall, we used walnuts, but I prefer these rolled in minced pecans and dotted with cherry and apricot jam.
These are buttery bites of nostalgia with a little holiday sparkle courtesy of those shiny jam centers. You can make the dough now, freeze it, and bake them later. Or you can whip up a batch today if you’re feeling festive. You can bet that I’ll be serving a plate of these paired with steaming mugs of cocoa at 8 pm tonight, parked in front of the tv to watch Rudolph with my kids. Can’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup seedless jam (cherry, raspberry, or apricot)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and brown sugar together at high speed until light and fluffy,
Add the yolks (reserve the whites in a separate bowl) and beat until combined. Mix in the vanilla.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and beat until just combined.
Whisk the egg whites with a tsp of water until just frothy. Place the chopped nuts in another bowl.
Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the dough and roll into balls. You'll have 36 balls. Toss the balls in the egg white and then in the nuts.
Evenly space the balls on the two lined cookie sheets and bake for 5 mins.
Remove the cookies from the oven and working quickly, use your thumb to make a depression in the center of each cookie,
Fill each depression with jam, taking care not to overfill and bake for an additional 12 mins, rotating the trays once during baking.
Cool on cookie sheets for 5 mins and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Cookies may be stored in a sealed container for up to three days.
Recipe yields 36 cookies.