What to do with a gaggle of giggling girls over winter break?  Bake cookies, of course!  Our favorite play date cookie recipe is thumbprint cookies.  They are, basically, pure butter, sugar and flour with sprinkles and jelly. What could be easier and more yummy? The secret, as always in the Hazan kitchen, is to use the best ingredients. We use premium vanilla and really good preserves.

This is an excellent recipe to use when cleaning out the refrigerator.  I don’t know about you, but I always seem to open another jar of preserves just before finishing the last one.  We also always seem to have little jars of samples that populate the jam area of the refrigerator.  So this year’s batch of holiday cookies were topped with everything from homemade fruit preserve (it didn’t have a label anymore), guava berry, banana jam, to miele con cacao.   “Why can’t I live in a normal house with normal jelly”, wailed our middle schooler, whom I ignored.  When cooked, most of the jams turned brownish, which made it a fun mystery to find out what flavor jam you were tasting.

The recipe is so easy that, other than putting the cookies in the oven and taking them out, the kids can do most of it themselves. This is something the kids can make to give as a “gift”, and they are so tasty that even the most discriminating grandparent will be pleased. Shhh… please don’t tell my in-laws… these will be one of their holiday presents.


Makes 36 cookies

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose four (do not pack)

Preserves, sprinkles, chocolate kisses of your choice

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whip the butter and sugar together until creamy. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until you obtain a homogeneous dough. Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes to make it easier to handle.

2.  Roll into small teaspoon-sized balls and press your thumb into the center. Place onto a cookie sheet. Fill center with jam, preserves, sprinkles or chocolate kisses.

3.  Bake until lightly browned around the bottom, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks.