Fig & Lemon Thumbprints


This year I have made a conscientious effort to become a better baker. I basically want to go from someone who likes to make cake sometimes to someone who knows the difference between Chiffon, Sponge, and Genoise (not yet, but I’m trying). I’m mostly going about this by simply making things I haven’t made before–things outside of my regular repertoire. I worked with laminated dough for the first time when I made Julia Child’s croissants. I made berry roulade. It seems like a more slow and natural learning process and it’s working for me.



These cookies are an example of previously unexplored baking territory. Thumbprints are a classic holiday cookie but they’re not one of the five cookies I make for Christmas. My mom always made the same cookies every year (Candy Cane, Peanut Butter Kisses, Snickerdoodles, Russian Tea Cakes, and Sugar), and now I make them. The result is that I never branch out. I love tradition but sometimes it can be creatively stifling.


Since I never seem to have the time around the holidays to try out newness, I thought I’d take this wintry classic and give it the autumn treatment (sans pumpkin spice). I had leftover fig jam from a previous project and it paired perfectly with buttery shortbread and zesty lemon. Plus they’re insanely quick and easy to make.


Here are some things I learned about this recipe:

  1. It makes a lot of cookies. If you make it all, you’ll probably need to use four pans and do two “rounds” in the oven. Alternatively you can do your future-self a favor and freeze half for later. You’re so nice.
  2. I know these are called “thumbprints” so I feel embarrassed to say that I do not use my thumb, mostly because I have long-ish nails. Instead I use the back of a half teaspoon dipped in flour which creates even, round craters without a nail imprint.
  3. You can really use any kind of jam you have on hand and they’ll be delicious.



Fig & Lemon Thumbprints

  • Servings: about 4 dozen cookies
  • Print

Fig & Lemon Thumbprints

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fig jam

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line cookie trays with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until lightened in color and texture. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add flour and salt, mix until just combined. Use a small cookie scoop or tablespoon to portion out balls of dough and roll between palms to smooth edges. Use your thumb or a half teaspoon (dipped in flour) to make a depression in the center of cookie. Fill with 1/2 teaspoon of fig jam. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven halfway through.

Once cookies have cooled slightly, transfer to a wire rack and place it on top of lined tray. Make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and honey. Once cookies have cooled completely, drizzle glaze on top.

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