These chocolate thumbprint cookies are the perfect cookies for the festive season and beyond! They are soft and extra-chocolatey, and filled with silky-smooth chocolate ganache and festive sprinkles. Perfect for sharing with the loved ones, and great to use as the edible gift for friends and family!
The cookies are made with only a handful of ingredients and require a short chilling time, making them a great recipe for any novice or less experienced bakers. They will also be great to make with kids!
Festive season is upon us, and if like me, you love baking cookies during this time of year, then these thumbprint cookies should definitely be added to your christmas cookie list! With soft and crisp texture, extra-chocolatey flavour, smooth, creamy ganache and festive sprinkles, they are truly hard to resist.
Just like my Chocolate Brownie Cookies recipe, these cookies have really intense, chocolatey flavour, but are not fudgy or gooey. It's also one of these recipes that can be adapted into many different versions, with variety of flavours and ingredients.
Here's the list of the ingredients you will need to make these chocolate cookies:
- For the cookies - you will need flour, cocoa powder, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla extract, coffee extract and some salt.
- For the ganache - double/ heavy cream and dark or milk chocolate (or both)
- Festive sprinkles for decorating (optional)
Start with creaming the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Once creamed, add an egg, vanilla and coffee extract.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder with salt. Tip the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix until just combined.
Using the small cookie scoop or a measuring spoon (I used 1 tablespoon per cookie), scoop small amounts of the cookie dough and roll it into balls using your hands.
Place each cookie ball on a baking sheet lined with baking paper or silicone mat, spacing them about 3-4cm apart. Make small indent in the middle of each cookie. You can use your thumb, or a back of smaller measuring spoon to do this. I used the back of a teaspoon measure.
Place the cookies in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes, allowing the butter to firm up a bit. Remove from the fridge and bake them for 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half way through.
Hint: Placing the cookies in the fridge will solidify the butter and stop cookies from spreading too much in the oven.
Remove the cookies from the oven. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes, while you prepare the ganache.
Hint: If the indent in the middle of cookies has lost it's definition and got flat during baking, gently press the centre of each cookie with the back of the spoon, while they are still warm.
Fill each cookie with the chocolate ganache and add sprinkles on top.
Ganache should be made with equal parts of cream to chocolate. When preparing chocolate ganache, things may go slightly wrong. Follow the below tips to make sure it turns out perfect:
- Bring the cream to gentle boil. As soon as the bubbles start to appear on the surface, remove the pan from the heat.
- Chop the chocolate into smaller pieces, it will be much easier and quicker to melt.
- Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for 30 seconds.
- Stir the mixture well, until it is smooth, shiny and glossy.
- Use the ganache straight away.
If your ganache splits or becomes grainy, you may still be able to salvage it. Place the bowl with ganache over a pan of gently simmering water to warm it up. Stir it vigorously, until it all comes together again.
If that doesn't work, try vigorously whisking in a small amount of room temperature milk into it, until it comes together again.
See below for some swaps you can make within the ingredients of this recipe:
- Flour - you can use all purpose / plain flour, wholemeal flour or even gluten-free flour.
- Sugar - I normally use caster sugar, but also made this recipe with soft light brown sugar, and a mix of both. It will work with granulated sugar too.
- Cocoa powder - Use good quality alkalized cocoa powder (Dutch processed cocoa for my American readers).
- Vanilla extract - Adding vanilla is a must for almost any baking recipe, especially cookies! It enhances the flavour and adds subtle aroma to the bake.
- Coffee extract - This is optional. Coffee extract adds more complexity and intensifies the chocolate flavour. You will not taste coffee in your cookies!
- Butter - Salted or unsalted butter will be fine to use.
- Egg - Use large or medium egg.
- Double cream - To make ganache, double cream (or heavy cream) is a must. It needs to have higher fat content. Using single cream or the cream with lower fat content will not set the ganache properly.
- Chocolate - You can use any type of dark or milk chocolate. I opted for 70% cocoa dark chocolate.
One of the best things about these delicious cookies is the fact that you can easily adapt this recipe. From different versions of the cookie dough, to variety of fillings, here are few ideas to get you started:
- Different fillings - instead of using ganache, you can use your favourite jam, curd, peanut butter or any type of spread.
- Change the cookie dough - instead of adding cocoa powder to the cookie dough, replace it with the same amount of flour. Skip the coffee extract and add extra spoon of vanilla to turn them into vanilla flavoured cookies. You could also add some chocolate chips to the cookie dough.
- Enhance the flavour - add some grated orange or lemon zest to the cookie dough, or couple of drops of peppermint extract to add extra flavour and turn them into chocolate peppermint cookies.
- Use chopped nuts - finely chop some hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans, and sprinkle them on top of ganache or your choice of filling.
- Red velvet cookies with cheesecake filling- follow this recipe from Bake from Scratch website for this fun version of thumbprint cookies!
Here's what you will need to make this easy recipe:
- Handheld electric mixer or standing mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Baking sheets (one large or two small baking sheets).
- Baking/ parchment paper or silicone mat.
- Small cookie scoop or 1 tablespoon measuring spoon (both are optional, but will help to make sure each cookie is similar in size).
- Piping bag with nozzle (optional).
Thumbprint cookies will store well up to 5-7 days. Keep them in the airtight container at room temperature.
They also freeze really well, for up to three months. Place them in the freezer-friendly container or bag, and keep in the freezer. Thaw them in the fridge overnight, then bring to room temperature before eating.
You can also freeze unbaked cookie dough for up to three months. Wrap it tightly in cling film or reusable wrap, and place in the freezer-friendly bag or container. Thaw it overnight in the fridge.
Chocolate ganache can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also freeze it. To freeze, transfer it to resealable container and place in the freezer for up to three months.
Thaw the ganache in the fridge overnight. It may still be a bit hard to use so you will need to place it somewhere warm for an hour or so (until it is spreadable), or pop it in the microwave for 10-20 secs, or place it in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring it regularly.
If the cookie dough is too soft or becomes too sticky to roll it and work it with, place it in the fridge for 15-12 minutes.
You can add the ganache to the cookies by simply spooning it out or transfer it to the piping bag fitted with the plain nozzle and pipe it directly into the centre of the cookies.
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
- hand-held electric mixer or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment
- one large or two small baking sheets
- baking paper
- small cookie scoop or 1 tablespoon measuring spoon (optional)
- piping bag with plain nozzle (optional)
- 250 g unsalted butter (softened)
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coffee extract (optional)
- 280 g plain flour
- 70 g cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 200 g milk or dark chocolate chopped
- 200 ml double cream
- 4 tablespoon festive sprinkles
- Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add an egg, vanilla extract and coffee extract, combine together. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt, and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients into the butter mix and fold until the ingredients are combined.
- Line the baking tray with baking paper. Roll balls of dough, about 1 tablespoon each, and place on a baking tray leaving 3-4 cm space between each cookie. Using your thumb (or a back of measuring teaspoon), make an indent into each cookie. Once you have used up all of the dough, place cookies in the fridge for 30- 40 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 180°C (165°C fan). Remove cookies from the fridge and place in the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the baking tray half way through. If the indents lost their shape, use the back of the spoon to gently press in the middle of each cookie and make the indents again. Do this as soon as the cookies are out of the oven and still very warm. Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack.
- Place the chopped chocolate into a medium bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring it to the gentle boil. Once the bubbles start to appear on the surface, remove the cream from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir them both together vigorously, until you have smooth, shiny ganache and all the chocolate has melted.
- Spoon the ganache into each cookie, or transfer it into a piping bag with a nozzle and pipe small amounts of ganache into each cookie. Add some festive sprinkles on top.
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Store any leftover cookies in the airtight container at room temperature. They will last for 5-7 days.
- Cookies can also be frozen for up to three months. Place them in the freezer friendly container. Thaw it in the fridge overnight.
- Unbaked cookie dough can be also frozen for up to three months. Wrap it well in clingfilm and place in the freezer friendly bag or container. Thaw it overnight in the fridge, then shape and bake as per the recipe instructions.
- Any spare or leftover ganache can be frozen for up to three months.
This recipe was originally published in November 2017. It has been updated with the new photos, video, revised recipe and tips in December 2021.