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My Favorite Christmas Cookie

My Favorite Christmas Cookie



Baking Christmas cookies is a long standing tradition for me.  Not only do I have an annual cookie bake with my family but, for many years I also conducted a mini cookie exchange with Amy, a close friend and fellow baker.  We kept this cookie exchange between just the two of us because we both have very high standards.  Let’s just say that years latter we are still teased by some of our friends for not letting them into our tight knit circle. 


Come the holiday season Amy and I would each make two kinds of cookies to exchange.  That way we ended up with four different cookies.  After the first few years we pretty much stuck to the same four recipes.  One that I always made was Raspberry Almond Thumbprints.  They are a favorite of both of our families.  As a matter of fact, Amy’s kids started asking in early December when the Raspberry Almond Thumbprints would be delivered.


This recipe also happens to be one of the most requested recipes at Land O’Lakes.  With the glistening raspberry centers it makes a beautiful addition to any cookie platter.  


To get started combine the butter, sugar and almond extract in a large bowl.  Beat the ingredients until creamy.




Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour.  Beat until well mixed.




Form the dough into a ball and wrap it with plastic food wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or you can do this a day or two ahead).  When you are ready to bake the cookies heat your oven to 350° F.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.




Make an indentation in the center of each cookie using your thumb.  Don’t worry if the edges of the dough crack or split slightly.




If you prefer, you can make the indentations with the back of a ¼ teaspoon.




Fill each indentation with about ¼ teaspoon of raspberry jam.  Feel free to try other kinds of jam as well.  Apricot works nicely but, raspberry is by far my favorite!




Bake the cookies for 14 to 18 minutes or until the edges are very lightly browned.  Be careful to not over bake the cookies.  Watch them closely the last few minutes. Let them stand 1 minute on the cookie sheet once you remove them from the oven.  Then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.




Once cooled stir together the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add just enough water to reach a glazing consistency.  If you add too much you can always add a little more powdered sugar.  A wire whisk works well for stirring but, don’t get too vigorous or you will have tiny air bubbles in your glaze.




Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.  I did some with a spoon but found I was getting a few “globs” of glaze.




So then I switched to a plastic food bag.  Just spoon the glaze into the bag, twist the bag to force the glaze into one corner and then snip off a very tiny piece of the bag in that corner.  You have just created your own pastry bag.  I had much better control of the glaze this way.




The buttery shortbread tastes extra special with the sweet addition of raspberry jam.  These are always the first to go from my holiday cookie platter.  I usually make a double recipe of these thumbprints so they make it to Christmas. J 


Which kind of cookie is the first to go at your house?  Please take a moment to rate and review this recipe.


Scones anyone?  On Monday Julie will share a special scone recipe her family has come to love.



Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchen for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz™ Blog.



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Help! What am I doing wrong? The raspberry jam either bleeds all over the cookie - into the cracks of the cookie - making it looks really messy. I have used two different kinds of raspberry jam - very good quality, and gotten the same results. What am I doing wrong. I made these cookies before and did not have this problem, but I have made two batches and I would not present either batch. Any suggestions?

Posted April 19, 2017 by Beryl
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Mallory
Hi Beryl, sorry to hear you had problems with the jam. Sometimes, even higher quality jam can have a lower sugar content. This can cause the jam to "melt" into the cookie and not set up. Hopefully this helps - happy baking!
Posted April 21, 2017

Can these thumbprints be frozen for a few weeks? I'm baking for a wedding and would like to make them in advance. With or without the glaze?

Posted July 18, 2016 by Marcia S.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Mallory
Hi Marcia, the cookies can most definitely be frozen. We recommend freezing them unglazed to prevent moisture from collecting between the cookie and the frosting layers, which could create a soggy cookie. You can freeze the unglazed cookies for up to 2 months, and when you are ready to use them, bring them out at room temperature until completely thawed. Hope this helps - happy baking!
Posted July 19, 2016

:( my cookies flattened out and lost their shape. And the cookie was crumbly:(

Posted March 29, 2016 by lorena

I have been making this cookie for years. This is by far my favorite cookie to eat and to bake. Everyone in my family loves them. Even those that have only just tasted them for the first time. I get many, many requests to make these. I even have a Christmas Ornament that looks exactly like this cookie.

Posted November 08, 2015 by Doreen L.

I made these years ago and loved them! I'm planning on making them again this week, but I don't remember using almond flavoring AND almond extract in the recipe last time. Is there a huge difference? Can I use one or the other?

Posted December 19, 2014 by Kate
Test Kitchen Comment
From: cindy
You can use either almnd flavoring or almond extract.
Posted December 21, 2014

I have made these for multiple years after I saw them in a Lank O'Lakes cookie cookbook - which you must not print anymore because I have not found one for some time. Everyone loves these cookies - they are the first to vanish. Always bake up buttery soft and delicious. Thanks for a winner!

Posted December 17, 2014 by December 17, 2014

Made these and they baked up great! Melt in your mouth delicious and pretty too !

Posted December 12, 2014 by Sallie H.

These are a must at Christmas!

Posted December 11, 2014 by Judy

Every year I try one new holiday cookie and this was this years. I did what one person recommended by making the balls, indenting them, and then freezing them. They turned out absolutely perfect! Beautiful and very delicious. Was the requested 'take some home' cookie! You do need to pay attention to the baking time. It doesn't take much to over bake. Thanks for the new fav.

Posted January 03, 2014 by Jonnye

These are the best cookies ever. I have been making them for years. The cookie is so delicate and sort of melts together in your mouth with the raspberry fill and the almond glaze. Love them!

Posted December 13, 2013 by Carol

Our favorite cookie also. Made them for church and a friend said, "These are gourmet cookies!"

Posted November 29, 2013 by Susie F

What can I use to substitute the flour for a Gluten free version of this cookie, it has been a family favorite and my daughter misses them since she has gone gluten free!

Posted March 03, 2013 by Susan
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
You could use the gluten free flour blend recipe on this site. Here is a link to the recipe
Posted March 19, 2013

I love these cookies and so does everyone I serve these cookies. The last two batches I have made have spread very thin and I just do not understand why this has become a problem. i soften butter and mix accordingly very careful with measuring flour I am to the poin t I feel I need more flour. I have let these refrigerate for hours before shaping. Please help. I just made another thin batch.

Posted December 22, 2012 by JUNE
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Initially just let the butter soften 15 - 20 minutes before cutting the butter into chunks and mixing the dough. As you did I would suggest that you chill the dough before baking the cookies and always use a cool cookie sheet to bake the cookies on.
Posted December 24, 2012

Love to make Christmas cookie gift baskets - these were WONDERFUL!. Easy to make, but had to experiment with ball size - 1" was perfect. Did add 1 beaten (small) egg to batter - afraid the ball would crumble - it did not. No more than 1/4 tsp of jam, otherwise it would run. Can't wait to make these again - everyone loved them..

Posted December 19, 2012 by Constance B.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Thanks so much for your comments. Happy Holidays!
Posted December 20, 2012

My family has loved these cookies for years and I always make them, but this year I am hosting Christmas for the first time and I am looking for some things I can make ahead. How far in advance can I make these cookies? Can they be frozen? Thanks for your help!

Posted December 07, 2012 by Jennifer
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Yes, you can make these cookies ahead of time and freeze the cookies. Here are a couple of tips: make sure you pack the cookies in single layers between sheets of waxed paper so you cushion them to make sure they do not break. Also, I would bake the cookie and fill it and when cool pack the cookies to freeze. Then after I have thawed the cookies I drizzle the glaze on and let it firm up before serving them. It is always best to frost or glaze a cookie after freezing cookies.
Posted December 10, 2012

These are by far everyone's favorite of all the Christmas cookies I make and so pretty. After I get them on the cookie sheet I put them in the refrigerater for about 10 minutes so they do not spread too much and get too flat.

Posted January 14, 2012 by Paula

The recipe does not specify which kind of butter to use, salted or unsalted. I usually use unsalted for baking (Land O' Lakes, of course), but wonder if salted is needed here to help the cookies rise. Which do you recommend??

Posted December 17, 2011 by Herself
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
This is a great question. The cookie can be made successfully no matter whether you use salted or unsalted butter.
Posted December 21, 2011

The directions in the recipe on the site say to chill the dough before shaping into balls, but your tutorial above says to do the opposite. Which way is correct??

Posted December 15, 2011 by Herself
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Sorry for the confusion... the dough should be chilled in a covered bowl and then form the balls of cookie dough and bake. Hopefully this helps you. Happy baking!
Posted December 15, 2011

I made these last weekend for a cookie swap and have past on the recipe at least a dozen times. These are soooo good, especially with homemade rasberry Jam!

Posted December 15, 2011 by Amanda

I have a child with nut allergies. Can I substitute an equal amount of vanilla extract or how would you recommend adjusting the recipe?

Posted December 12, 2011 by Tara
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
Tara, Feel free to substitute the almond extract with vanilla. The cookies will still taste wonderful.
Posted December 14, 2011

I tried these cookies to bring to my in-laws' home one Christmas, not knowing if they would be a success or failure. They were a HUGE hit with everyone. Now they always ask me if I am bringing "those cookies" and I know exactly which ones they mean. A little time consuming to make, but really appreciated when I do make them.

Posted December 11, 2011 by Debbie

I have trouble with these spreading out too much! Any suggestions?

Posted December 08, 2011 by Alane
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
Alane, I am sorry to hear you are having problems with the cookies spreading too much. Here are a couple of suggestions that might help. First, be sure you are measuring your flour correctly. I recommend you use the spoon and level method to measure your flour. Stir flour in the bag or canister with a large spoon to lighten it. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife. Be careful not to tap or shake the measuring cup when measuring. It is not necessary to sift the flour in baking unless the recipe specifically states to do so. I tend to be a “light flour measurer” which you may be too. If you feel your dough is a little sticky or too soft add an extra tablespoon or two of flour. Also, be sure you haven’t over softened your butter. To soften butter let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. One other tip is to be sure to put the cookie dough on cold cookie sheets; don’t put dough on warm cookie sheets as the dough begins to soften. Hope these tips help
Posted December 08, 2011

Guess what? These are my favorite cookies as well, addictive really. I am not just saying this they really are and I have made many kinds of cookies over the years for my Christmas Cookie platters.

Posted December 06, 2011 by Anonymous
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
I agree, they are addictive. I’m so glad you like this recipe. As you know from the blog it’s my favorite too.
Posted December 08, 2011

Everytime I make these, the dough is too crumbled to work with. Very dry. Looks nothing like your pictured above. Any ideas? These are my favorite!

Posted December 01, 2011 by tiff
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
Tiff, I am so sorry you are having problems with this recipe. My guess is that you are a “heavy flour measurer.” Be sure to use the spoon and level method to measure your flour. Stir flour in the bag or canister with a large spoon to lighten it. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a spatula or knife. Be careful not to tap or shake the measuring cup when measuring. It is not necessary to sift the flour in baking unless the recipe specifically states to do so. I actually have the opposite problem, I am a “light flour measurer,” so often my dough is too soft and sticky. Hope this helps you create the perfect dough.
Posted December 08, 2011

sometime in the 60's I ran across a Christmas cookie called carpet cookies. I think it might of been from Land of lakes, I can no longer find it and it was one of my best loved cookies. Did it come from you and would you still have the receipe ?

Posted November 19, 2011 by geredith
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
I am not familiar with this cookie and have checked our recipe files. You pique my interest and am interested in learning more about this cookie. Happy Holidays!
Posted November 21, 2011

i drizzle white chocolate on these cookies yum!

Posted September 24, 2011 by adrienne l.

Hello, This is everyone's favorite cookie. My friend enjoys Blueberry preserves instead of Raspberry.I find that every time I make them I need to make more & more

Posted December 26, 2010 by Lori

Though the recipe calls for preserves, it is just fine if you want to vary the cookie and use jam or jelly in the cookie center.

Posted September 22, 2010 by Cindy M.

These cookies have a huge fan base in my household and are a favorite at church! I was I have to use jam or will preserves or jelly work as well?

Posted September 20, 2010 by Renea

Nancy, The cookies are filled prior to baking. If you'd like to make them ahead I would follow the recipe and baked as directed with the jam. Freeze the cooled cookies before glazing. When you are ready to serve, defrost and then glaze the cookies.

Posted September 17, 2010 by Becky W.

I usually like to start my holiday baking in Sept.,since I make so many. Can these be made, then filled a day before they're to be served? Thanks. I'm always interested in different kinds of cookies I can freeze. I have a small freezer chest in the basement. It's great.

Posted September 14, 2010 by Nancy