Traditional thumbprint cookies get a whole foods makeover as well as a touch of the Valentine's Day spirit with this wholesome recipe. Instead of making the typical thumb indentation, we turned ours into little hearts. Filled with ground almonds, plenty of protein and fiber, and gluten-free buckwheat flour, this version of the beloved cookie is heartier and healthier and it boasts a satisfying texture that is chewy with a little crunch. Filled with jam or chocolate chips (we can't decide which we prefer!), these nutty cookies make for a delicious dessert or snack that won't send anyone into sugar overdrive but that will certainly satisfy our hankering for a sweet seasonal treat.
1. Gather the ingredients.
- 1 cup almonds, preferably raw, ground into a meal (this will make about 1 1/4 cups almond meal, which you can also purchase instead of making your own)
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 cup maple sugar, for rolling (if desired to give a little extra crunch, optional)
- several tablespoons of whatever jam flavor you would like (I used a mixed berry, but if you want a more traditional Valentine’s Day look, try raspberry or strawberry)
- several tablespoons of chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate, but any will work; white chocolate would look beautiful!)
2. Grind the almond flour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You can purchase almond flour (also known as almond meal) at many stores, including Trader Joe’s. If making it at home, use a high powered blender or food processor. Just take care not to overprocess the almonds into a nut butter since they release their oils quickly. You want a fairly fine blend, but it’s okay if there are a few almond pieces here and there; they will add crunch to the cookie.
3. Mix the dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl, add the almond meal/flour, buckwheat flour, salt, baking powder, and ground flaxseeds. Mix well to combine.
4. Mix the wet ingredients together, then make the dough.
In a smaller bowl, add the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well to combine, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir until a dough forms. You may want to use your hands and knead the wet ingredients in, to integrate them completely. Break off about 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into a ball. You should have enough dough for about 12 balls (i.e. 12 cookies).
5. Make the thumbprints (hearts) and fill.
Dump the maple sugar, if using, into a shallow container. Roll the dough balls into the maple sugar at this point if desired; this will give the cookies a little extra crunch and sweetness. After rolling the dough balls, place them about 1-2 inches apart on a parchment-covered or Silpat-covered baking sheet. They don’t spread out much so there’s no need to space them widely. Press down with your thumb firmly but gently to make an indent. Then lift up, turn your thumb about 45 degrees and make another indent, joining the bottom of the first thumbprint to make a V (which will look like a heart when it is filled and baked). Repeat for the other balls. If the dough cracks on the sides as you are pressing down, gently reform it if desired. Fill the cookies using about 1 tsp of the jam or by placing three chocolate chips into the indentation.
6. Enlist your kids’ help.
To make the thumbprints more unique, have your kids participate in the rolling and pressing action. If they are having trouble making the right pressure for the heart indents, they can always make traditional thumbprints. In this scenario, you can also use less dough (I would recommend about 1 1/2 tablespoons), therefore, having dough for more cookies. Simply reduce the amount of filling slightly as well as reduce baking time by a minute or so.
7. Bake the cookies.
Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes. They will just be beginning to turn a golden brown around the sides. Remove and let cool on the baking sheet. The chocolate chips will be very soft, so carefully take a knife or chopstick and spread the chips into the thumbprint cavity while still warm. You can move the cookies after about 5- 10 minutes, but they are still a little fragile just out of the oven.
8. Serve and enjoy!
These cookies are delicious with a cold glass of non-dairy milk. We also have been enjoying them as a little afternoon snack pick-me-up! They have a lot of plant-based protein power, plenty of healthy fats, and just the right amount of sweetness. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days. Enjoy!