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Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

I can’t think of a better way to showcase homemade jam than baked into a buttery shortbread-esque gluten-free thumbprint cookie. Even better if you’re making them to give to friends and family!

These are everything I hoped for from a gluten-free thumbprint cookie… just like the ones I used to eat at Christmas time years ago when life was simpler and I could eat all the gluten I wanted. You know, the good old days. These cookies are tender yet sturdy enough to cradle a generous amount of jam.

And the jam– the real star of the show here! Use homemade if you’ve got it. A traditional-style jam works best with these gluten-free thumbprint cookies (not a freezer jam). And if you’re using store-bought, spring for the good stuff, like Bonne Maman. Use any flavor jam you’d like… I always think it’s nice to use two different ones. Raspberry is a traditional flavor and probably my favorite, though I used my Mixed Berry Sun Jam in these (an enchanting combo of raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry) and they were excellent. Apricot or citrus marmalade is also wonderful. If you have an amazingly special jam like strawberry elderflower or mango passionfruit, now is definitely the time to use it!

Important Tips for Gluten-Free Baking

There are a few important things to note with this recipe (which also apply to a lot of gluten-free cookie recipes).

Butter: The temperature of the butter is crucial– it should be just at room temperature. I let mine come to room temperature on the counter for a couple hours, no more. If it’s too warm, the cookies could be too crumbly. Do not use heat to bring your butter to room temperature; you’ll just have to wait if you didn’t plan ahead. (If you need to speed things up, cut the butter into tablespoons pieces and space them out on a cutting board– they’ll be ready in less than an hour.)

Flour: Use a flour blend that is meant to be used as a “1:1” or “Cup for Cup” substitute for regular flour. Most blends like this will contain xanthan gum. If your blend doesn’t, stir 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum into the flour before adding it. My favorite gluten-free baking flours are Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill (in the blue bag), and King Arthur.

Dough Chilling: The dough needs to be completely chilled before the cookies are made and baked. This allows the flour to hydrate and for the butter to harden, which helps the cookies keep their shape. This dough works wonderfully when made the day before! When making the cookies, don’t let the dough get too warm. Don’t put dough on a warm pan, and if you have cookies waiting their turn to go into the oven, keep the pan in the fridge.

Looking For More Holiday Recipes?

Fluffernutter Peanut Chocolate Clusters with homemade maple marshmallows always make an appearance on my cookie platter– they’re a crowd favorite!

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix makes a lovely gift, or is perfect for serving at your holiday party. Add a cute jar and a bow, and you’ve got a great gift!

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Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Buttery gluten-free shortbread cookies, perfectly tender yet sturdy, and filled with sweet jam.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups 1:1 gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Assorted jams and jellies

For the glaze

  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions

To make the cookies:

  • In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to cream the butter and granulated sugar until well-combined and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, and salt, and mix until the yolk is incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • Add the flour and mix until just combined. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F, and line a baking pan (or two!) with parchment paper.
  • Roll the dough into balls that are about 1 tablespoon each, and place them 2-inches apart on the prepared pan. Use your thumb, or the back of a small rounded spoon to make an impression in the center of each dough ball. If the edges of the dough crack, pinch them back together, otherwise the jam may run out. Fill each impression with a scant ½ teaspoon of jam. Don’t let the dough warm too much before baking; bake immediately.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are just starting to brown on the bottom. Cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then move to a wire rack or a piece of wax paper to cool completely.

To make the glaze:

  • In a very small bowl mix the powdered sugar and water together until uniform. The glaze should be thick but ever so slightly runny. Correct with small amounts of additional powdered sugar or water if needed. Use a fork to drizzle the glaze delicately over the cookies.
  • Allow the glaze to dry and set for a couple hours before storing in an airtight container.

Notes

Note: The butter should be at just room temperature, about 65°F. If the butter is too warm when mixed, the cookies won’t hold their shape as well. Do not bring butter to room temperature in the microwave.

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