The Year of the Tiger was greeted by the Li family with raucous success. We made wonderful food, we wore red, we thoroughly cleaned our home, and we got together to eat lucky foods and give each other red envelopes full of chocolate coins. If you’re curious, read [here] for a more detailed account of the celebration. That being said, Chinese New Year, with its two weeks of celebrations and gatherings really took a lot out of me. For our final gathering, we had a party for the Lantern Festival, for which I made six different savory dishes and four different desserts. Every evening of the week leading up to the Lantern Festival, I would prepare in advance for one of the dishes to be served, and while the party itself was a wonderful success and a happy occasion enjoyed by all of us, I was glad to take a bit of rest from the kitchen. That being said, I never take too long of a break from baking, and with Valentine’s dominating the theme for the week straight on the heels of Chinese New Year, I really felt compelled to bake something that would page homage to the occasion.
I like these heart-shaped thumbprint cookies because you can cut out thick shapes with a cookie cutter and they will retain all of the pattern even after being baked. They will not spread too much or become shapeless! They are also one of my most popular cookies among people who regularly sample my cooking and baking. I’ve gotten such good reviews for these jam thumbprints that they are a classic in our household and among our friends, and maybe they are so well-liked because they are super simple. They are buttery, not overly sweet, soft and thick, and the dimple of jam is the perfect touch of fruity sweetness, and it also makes these cookies glint in the sun like home-baked jewels. They also keep really well in a tin, which makes them perfect for gifting, and if you happen to use a fun cookie cutter, they can be a really pretty gift. As to the flavor of these cookies, I usually make them in two ways: the traditional vanilla-scented flavor full of buttery richness with a center of raspberry jam, or I can add some almond extract instead and fill them with apricot filling. You can customize them as you like, and you will always be left with a really pleasing soft, buttery cookie that’s a perfectly delicious treat. I would recommend using a high-quality jam. In my experience, people really notice the taste of the jam and it stands out from the flavor of the cookie.
I love, love cookies! I love developing recipes for them, baking them, shaping them, decorating them, and of course, tasting them! But the best part of all is when I get to share them with friends, whether it’s the recipe or the finished product. Gifting cookies is one of my favorite things to do, and I hope you will try this recipe and enjoy making and sharing these with your loved ones.
Heart-Shaped Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 18-20, depending on cookie cutter
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup cane sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- ½ tsp vanilla powder (optional)
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup strawberry or apricot jam, or desired filling
- In a large bowl, beat butter with a whisk or with an electric mixer until fluffy and pale in color.
- Fold in the sugar, followed by the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well until combined.
- Add in the vanilla and vanilla powder or almond extract, depending on your preferred flavoring.
- Finally beat in the flour and form a soft dough. Do not over-beat.
- Press the dough into a ball and flatten it to 1 inch thickness. Wrap it with plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, setting it aside.
- Shape dough into balls, pressing an indentation with your thumb into the center of each ball if you want to make traditional thumbprints; or use a thumbprint cookie press with the shape of your choice. Place each cookie on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Using a couple of teaspoons, fill the centers of the thumbprints with jam.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges turn golden. Remove from the oven and let cool, and store in an airtight tin for up to 7 days.
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