Make a mark on the cookie table with thumbprint cookies

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First Posted: 12/7/2014

This thumbprint cookie recipe was filed away in my e-mail for nearly a year, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to break it out and give it a shot.

It was an old family recipe that took first place in last year’s Thumbprint Cookie Contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The winner’s daughter took home 5th place in the contest with a similar version of the recipe. The recipe sounded scrumptious and, with two ribbons, how could it not be? The cookie owners’ recollection of her mother baking these every Christmas and having to hide the tins from hungry hands had me wanting to use these cookies for my own Christmas tradition.

The original recipe was made with apple jelly and black raspberry jelly. Shelley Pokrivka, the York County contest winner, credits the victory to the elderberry jelly center. Pokrivka told to create a prize-winning thumbprint cookie “it has to be something other than strawberry or grape.”

Elderberry jelly may be available at any grocer, but I lucked out when I stumbled upon a jar of fresh elderberry jelly at Wilkes-Barre’s farmers market in Public Square.

The rest of the items are typical cookie ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • two eggs, separated (only yolks go in the batter — use egg whites to roll dough in walnuts)
  • one teaspoon almond extract
  • two cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • one cup finely ground toasted walnuts
  • one small jar homemade elderberry jelly (apple jelly or black raspberry jelly can be used, too)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter, Crisco and sugar together.
  3. Add egg yolks, almond extract, flour and salt.
  4. Form into small balls and place on baking sheet. Roll in nuts as desired. Form “thumbprint” hole in center of cookie.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
  6. Let cool, and fill with elderberry jelly.

The cookies turned out delicious. I still have some work to do on my thumb printing technique, and my jelly filling could be a little more presentable.