Cashew Thumbprint Cookies

Cashew thumbprint cookies have a creamy, soft, brown sugar filling and nutty crunch from cashews. Most commonly a holiday cookie recipe, the filled cookies are favorites any time of the year.

Thumbprint cookies are one of my favorites for Christmas cookie exchanges, bake sales, and for cute gifts to give to friends.

This version is filled with a homemade caramel and has not only chopped cashews on the inside, but also a whole cashew on top. They are delicious and beautiful!

caramel filled cashew thumbprint cookies on a wire rack

Where did thumbprint cookies originate?

These soft and chewy cookies originate from Sweden, where they are called Hallongrotta. Traditionally, Swedish bakers fill them with raspberry jam, but any flavor of jam or jelly will work.

As these cashew thumbprint cookies prove, the filling doesn’t have to be fruit-based, either. You can make thumbprints with any filling of your choice! I like to fill thumbprint cookies with rich fillings like chocolate, Nutella, and in this case, brown sugar!

What does cornstarch do to cookies?

Cornstarch is a common ingredient in cakes and cookies. This cookie recipe calls for cornstarch, helping to create a soft and tender texture.

If you have ever made shortbread cookies, you may already know that they also have cornstarch in them. However, shortbread cookies are made without eggs, which is why they are crumbly. Adding even just one egg yolk to a cookie recipe helps to give it structure.

ingredients for cashew thumbprint cookies

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies

  • Heat oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar and butter and beat well. Mix in the milk.
  • Add egg yolk (save the white for an omelet or a casserole) and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add flour and cornstarch. (If using a stand mixer, switch to dough hook. Otherwise, you will need to stir by hand with a sturdy spoon; this is a very thick dough.)
  • Stir or knead in the cashews.
  • Using 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 1 ½ inches apart.
  • Firmly press the top of each cookie with your thumb (or a round spoon handle or melon baller). Repair any large cracks around the edge of the cookie so the edges are smooth.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the cookie bottoms are lightly browned.
  • Move to a cooling rack.

Filling for Thumbprint Cookies

This brown sugar filling is almost like a caramel. It is rich and sweet…the butter and caramel combine into one amazing filling.

  • In a medium pan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk. On medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla and powdered sugar until mixture is smooth.
  • Then it’s time to fill the cookies!
  • Carefully pour into depressions on cookies.

*PRO TIP: The icing sets quickly, so If you are adding cashews on top, pour 4 cookies at a time and add the cashews. If the icing gets too thick to pour, place it back on the stove at low heat briefly, stirring constantly. *

stack of 4 caramel cashew thumbprint cookies

Can you freeze cashew thumbprint cookies?

One of the reasons that cashew thumbprint cookies are such a popular Christmas cookie recipe is that they freeze beautifully. The dough balls can be made ahead and frozen, either baked or unbaked.

These cookies freeze well.The caramel center might be sticky so it is best to freeze them in one layer or place parchment paper between the layers. Leave the cookies in the container while they are defrosting. Don’t open the container until they are fully at room temperature. This will help the cookies retain the moisture.

plate full of caramel cashew cookies

How long do thumbprint cookies last at room temperature?

When properly stored in an airtight container, most cookies will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks. Before storing them, just be sure that they have cooled completely

If you plan to freeze jam-filled thumbprint cookies, keep in mind that the consistency will be different. It is best to wait to fill them with jam when you’re ready to serve them. When frozen, the consistency of jellies and jams can become gummy.

Cashew thumbprint cookies freeze well either way; filled or unfilled.

caramel cashew cookies on a wire rack
caramel cashew cookies on a wire rack

Cashew Thumbprint Cookies

5 from 1 vote
Cashew thumbprint cookies have a creamy, soft, brown sugar filling and nutty crunch from cashews. Most commonly a holiday cookie recipe, the filled cookies are favorites any time of the year. 
Servings 40
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 large egg yolk (use white for something else)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup cashews (finely chopped)

For the Brown Sugar Filling:

  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Instructions
 

Make the Cookies:

  • Heat oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar and butter and beat well. Mix in the milk.
  • Add egg yolk and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add flour and cornstarch. (If using a stand mixer, switch to dough hook. Otherwise, you will need to stir by hand with a sturdy spoon; this is a very thick dough.)
  • Stir or knead in the cashews.
  • Using 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 1 ½ inches apart. Firmly press the top of each cookie with your thumb (or a round spoon handle or melon baller). Repair any large cracks around the edge of the cookie.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the cookie bottoms are lightly browned. Move to a cooling rack.

Make the Filling:

  •  In a medium pan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk. On medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla and powdered sugar until mixture is smooth.
  • Carefully pour into depressions on cookies. The icing sets quickly, so If you are adding cashews on top, pour 4 cookies at a time and add the cashews. Repeat until all cookies are filled. If the icing gets too thick to pour, place it back on the stove at low heat briefly, stirring constantly. 
  • Allow cookies to cool thoroughly before serving.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making about 40 cookies, with 1 serving being 1 cookie. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 36mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 127
Keyword caramel cookies, cashew cookies, christmas thumbprint cookies, nut cookies, thumbprint cookies

Favorite Cookie Recipes

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

Get 5 Classic Recipes with a Deliciously Secret Twist

You might also like

Join the Discussion

Subscribe
Notify of

2 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Karolyn Smith
1 year ago

could I use ice cream caramel topping? I like the taste better and it has a clear shiny look.