These rich chocolate cookies are a fun holiday twist on the classic thumbprint cookie. Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies are rolled in seasonally colored sprinkles or sanding sugar and filled with a Peppermint Schnapps filling.
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Peppermint Filling are perfect for office holiday parties, neighborhood gatherings, or adults-only cookie exchanges!
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Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies for the Holidays
Thumbprint cookies are an easy and fun treat for any occasion. The characteristics of thumbprint cookies are simple - sugar cookies rolled in sprinkles with an indent in the middle that’s typically filled with jam.
To make these festive for the holidays, the classic holiday flavor combo of chocolate and peppermint is used here.
The thumbprint cookies have a rich chocolatey flavor thanks to both melted chocolate and cocoa powder in the cookie dough.
A small amount of corn syrup is added to the cookie dough as well. The purpose of the corn syrup in this recipe is to help create a soft texture to the cookie, making it more malleable, rather than crispy. This helps when creating the indentation in the center of the cookie in which to place the filling.
See below in the FAQ section for substitutions, if needed.
Once the chocolate cookie dough has been prepared and chilled, measure out small scoops of dough (I like to use a cookie scoop similar to this one), roll into balls then roll in festive sprinkles or sanding sugar. I like to use red and green sanding sugars, as they hold up well when baked, retaining their color and sparkle.
Peppermint Schnapps Filling
This is the best part of these chocolate thumbprint cookies! This filling is similar to the filling in these Hot Cocoa Peppermint Moon Pies, however, there is no marshmallow fluff in this filling.
It is meant to resemble the filling in Peppermint Patties. But, it’s flavored with Peppermint Schnapps plus peppermint extract for a cool mint contrast to the rich chocolatey cookies.
If you want to keep this recipe alcohol-free, simply omit the Schnapps and double the amount of peppermint extract to 1 teaspoon.
To fill the chocolate thumbprint cookies, make an indentation in the center of the cookies 2-3 minutes after they’re removed from the oven. I prefer this method for making the well in the center of the cookies over making the indentation in the cookie dough prior to baking.
I find the indentation doesn’t hold up well and fills in a bit when the cookies are baked this way. If the indentation is made after the cookies are baked, a deeper well is created and maintained, allowing plenty of room for the peppermint filling to be piped or spooned in the center.
Yes! I recommend storing the cookies and filling separately until ready to serve. Once the cookies have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 5 days. If storing for longer, I recommend freezing the cookies. Allow to thaw at room temperature prior to filling and serving.
To store the peppermint filling, place in a jar with a tight fitting lid or an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature prior to using. Stir well then use to fill the cookies.
Yes! To make a kid-friendly or spirit-less version of this holiday treat, simply omit the Peppermint Schnapps then double the amount of peppermint extract called for in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
The purpose of the corn syrup in this recipe is to help create a soft texture to the cookie, making it more malleable, rather than crispy. This helps when creating the indentation in the center of the cookie in which to place the filling.
If you do not have corn syrup, you can try omitting it from the recipe or replacing it with an equal amount of honey. The honey may change the flavor of the final baked cookie, however.
Granulated sugar should not be substituted for corn syrup. Since corn syrup is a liquid and sugar is not, the addition of granulated sugar will likely impact the texture and consistency of the finished baked cookie.
Corn syrup is also used in the peppermint filling. I would not recommend substituting the corn syrup here, as it’ll change the texture and flavor of the filling.
The recipe turns out best when the cookie dough has been chilled for at least one hour. This allows the texture to firm up while the flour fully hydrates.
Why does flour need to hydrate in cookie dough? Allowing the cookie dough to chill enables the wet ingredients to absorb into the flour, creating an even texture once baked. Chilling the cookie dough also concentrates the flavor of the cookie dough for more flavorful cookies!
Lastly, chilling the dough prevents the cookies from spreading too much in the oven if the butter is too warm. This is particularly important for thumbprint cookies where the shape is critical for the final product.
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Looking for more holiday cookie recipes? Give these a try:
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- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- red and green sanding sugar or sprinkles
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- ⅓ cup light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon Peppermint Schnapps
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, and corn syrup at medium speed until fluffy and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined; scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Add melted chocolate, and beat until lighter in color and well combined, stopping to scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined after each addition and stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, place sanding sugar or sprinkles.
- Using a small spring-loaded cookie scoop, scoop dough, and roll into 1-inch balls. Roll in sanding sugar or sprinkles. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans.
- Bake until tops are slightly cracked, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on pans for 2 to 3 minutes. Using your thumb or the back of a teaspoon, gently make an indentation in center of cookies. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all ingredients at low speed until mixture starts to come together; gradually increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. (If not using right away, refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before using.)
- Place Peppermint Filling in a pastry bag fitted with a medium round piping tip. (Alternatively, place Peppermint Filling in a resealable plastic bag, and cut a ¼-inch opening in corner of bag or simply use a spoon.) Pipe filling into center of each cooled cookie
- Filled cookies can be prepared several hours in advance. Store unfilled cookies in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Refrigerate filling in airtight container for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and give a good stir before using
- To make a kid-friendly or spirit-less version of this holiday treat, simply omit the Peppermint Schnapps then double the amount of peppermint extract called for in the recipe to 1 teaspoon
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