Thumbprint cookies, sweet, buttery and graced with a slip of jam, have always been a favorite of mine. But, as I got older and had a family of my own, I wanted to make something better, a touch more wholesome, more flavorful. I started baking a healthier version, more nourishing, and richer in flavor: Spelt Thumbprint Cookies.
Classic thumbprint cookies rely on white flour for their delicate crumb, but whole grain flours provide a deeper and richer flavor. Whole grain flours are also coarser, and I'm partial to the whole grain organic spelt flour by Bob's Red Mill. It's has a lovely soft texture that works well in pastries like cookies, and it also has a brilliantly fresh flavor that, when paired with brown sesame seeds, works really well to deliver a Christmas cookie that isn't just a sweet treat. It has depth, too.
How to Make Spelt Thumbprint Cookies
You start with whole grain spelt flour, and then enrich the dough with real butter, egg yolks and sour cream before spiking it with nutmeg and the lightest slip of spiced rum for good measure. You then roll the dough in the palm of your hand to form a little ball, and then roll it in sesame seeds which give the cookies a pleasant crunch and a nice, nutty flavor. Then you’ll press a little indent into each cookie, just enough to hold a teaspoon of jam.
To prevent the cookie dough from spreading, you’ll want to toss the prepared cookies in the freezer before you fill and bake them. Traditionally, you’d fill them with raspberry jam, but I’m partial to spiced plum jam my husband makes in the summer, when the local orchards are dripping with fruit.
After you bake them and allow them to cool on racks, you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar or serve them as is. They’ll keep about two weeks in an airtight container.
The Goodness of Spelt and Sesame
If you’re going to bake cookies, why not bake cookies that are a little bit better? Moreover, when whole foods - like whole grain flour, sesame seeds, real butter and freshly ground spices lend richer and more complex flavor, so not only do you have a cookie that tastes incredible, but you also have one that’s just a little bit better for you, too.
Both spelt and sesame seeds are rich in B vitamins like niacin, as well as fiber, which helps to support gut health.
Spelt Thumbprint Cookies with Sesame Seeds
- 1 ¼ cups spelt flour
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground real salt
- ½ teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- ½ cup whole unrefined cane sugar
- ½ cup butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 teaspoon spiced rum
- ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Whole Brown Sesame Seeds
- 6 tablespoons jam or preserves
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder and salt together into a medium mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, and then beat in the egg yolk, sour cream and rum.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until combined.
- Place the sesame seeds in a small, shallow bowl or on a plate.
- Spoon two tablespoons dough into your hand, and form it into a tight round ball. Roll them in sesame seeds, and place them on the baking sheet no closer than 1 inch apart. Gently press your thumb into each ball of dough to leave a shallow indent.
- Place the cookie tray in the freezer for 30 minutes, and then heat the oven to 350 F.
- Remove the tray from the freezer, and spoon jam into the indents on the cookies.
- Bake at 350 F about 15 minutes or until set. Gently transfer the cookies to a cooling rack, allowing them to cool completely before storing or serving.. Store in an airtight container where they’ll keep about 2 weeks.
Where to Find Organic Spelt Flour for Thumbprint Cookies
Spelt is a heritage grain with a flavor reminiscent of wheat, although spelt is softer, richer in fiber and micronutrients than modern wheat varieties. Owing to its natural softness, it performs well in pastries and cookies.
You can find organic spelt flour and organic spelt berries from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company dedicated to whole and natural foods, in most well-stocked natural foods markets as well as online here.
Love Spelt Thumbprint Cookies? Try these, too.
If you’re headed to a Christmas cookie swap or just want to make a few treats to enjoy at home, here’s some of our favorite, wholesome cookie recipes.
Sprouted Spelt Sugar Cookies are fun to cut out and decorate with children.
Little Almond and Einkorn Cookies are flavor-forward cookie that’s spiked with almonds.
Einkorn Cookies with Strawberry Buttercream are easy to make, and the strawberry buttercream gives these cookies a lovely, fresh flavor.