While in elementary school, my brother and I followed the same routine almost every Christmas Eve. First, we slipped on our fancy clothes, usually a collared shirt for him and a shimmery dress for me, and attended the early evening church service (geared towards kids, so fairly short with lots of hymns!). Afterwards, we drove through a few neighborhood streets to look at the festively twinkling holiday lights strung up on people’s houses.
When we arrived back at our own house, we changed into PJs, and Mom let us eat the last little piece of milk chocolate from our advent calendars. We also helped her set out our special Christmas stockings. My grandma had sewed them by hand, and each one had unique felt figures and sparkly sequins stitched into its front.
Finally, before the dreaded walk upstairs (we never wanted to go to bed on Christmas Eve!), we arranged a plate of cookies for Santa and a handful of baby carrots for his reindeer. With our incredibly hectic holiday schedules — school plays, church choir rehearsals, visiting relatives, you name it! — we usually set our store-bought cookies, like crunchy little gingerbread men or mint Milano’s, because we rarely had time to bake our own.
Besides… Back then, my grandma always brought multiple loaves of her famous homemade fruitcake for Mom and Dad when she and my grandpa flew into town for the holidays, and our parents looked forward to that a lot more than homemade Christmas cookies!
The next morning, my brother and I woke up by 5 am and impatiently waited in his room until the clock struck 6 (our parents’ rule!) to race downstairs and see what Santa had left for us. After a quick peek at our stockings, we dashed into the kitchen to make sure he ate all of the cookies… And sometimes he even wrote a little thank you note!
Later in life, I realized that Santa probably had a little help with the gifts in our Christmas stockings… And knowing about the people who probably helped him…
I can guarantee that these Extra Special Thumbprint Cookies would’ve been Santa’s favorite! They’re deliciously sweet, soft and chewy, and filled with fruity jam. The cookie dough also includes a secret ingredient that makes them so festive and irresistible!
I’m pretty sure Santa’s helpers would also appreciate the fact that they’re 42 calories… Because it’s nearly impossible not to finish every last one on the plate! 😉
HOW TO MAKE SANTA’S FAVORITE THUMBPRINT COOKIES
Let’s go over how to make these amazing healthy jam thumbprint cookies! You’ll actually start with white whole wheat flour. Although it may sound a little confusing, it’s not a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular whole wheat flour! Instead, white whole wheat flour is made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat, whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a different variety of red wheat. They both have the same health benefits (like extra fiber!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture… Which lets the soft and chewy texture of your healthy holiday thumbprint cookies truly shine!
To boost their soft and chewy texture, you’ll also mix in a bit of cornstarch. When you add cornstarch to soup, it thickens the soup by absorbing moisture. It does a similar thing with this cookie dough! It absorbs moisture, which prevents that moisture from evaporating, and therefore helps keep your healthy holiday thumbprint cookies exceptionally soft and chewy.
Next comes the secret ingredient! Can you guess what it is?
If you said spices, then you’re correct! Somehow, though, I’m guessing most people wouldn’t have come up with that answer… Spices and fruit jam aren’t exactly the most obvious pair, but it works SO well in these healthy holiday thumbprint cookies! The spices create a deeper and richer flavor that accentuates the jam’s sweetness. I learned that with these gingerbread thumbprint cookies that I baked last year!
To make this secret spice blend, you’ll need cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and nutmeg. ← That’s my favorite cinnamon because it tastes stronger and sweeter than other types. You’ll also use cardamom in all of these recipes of mine too — I promise it’s worth buying a jar of it at the store!
Unlike many traditional recipes, you only need 1 ½ tablespoons of butter to make these cookies. That really helps keep your healthy holiday thumbprint cookies low calorie and low fat! Then the rest of their buttery flavor comes from…
Vanilla extract! Vanilla enhances butter’s rich flavor, so by adding a touch more than in most traditional cookie recipes, your healthy holiday thumbprint cookies taste just as buttery as classic ones. Such a great trick, right?
You’ll skip the refined granulated sugar and sweeten your healthy holiday thumbprint cookies with coconut sugar instead! Coconut sugar is exactly what it sounds like: an unrefined sweetener that comes from coconuts. However, it doesn’t actually taste like coconuts. It has a rich caramel-like flavor, similar to brown sugar. You can usually find it on the baking aisle next to the regular sugar!
Finally, you’ll need some jam. Raspberry jam seems to be a favorite in our family, so that’s what I used for the cookies that you see in these photos. However, just about any jam flavor will work in these healthy holiday thumbprint cookies! Strawberry, blackberry, apricot, peach, grape, boysenberry, cherry, cranberry… You name it. The sky’s the limit!
Tip: After stirring it in a bowl until it’s smooth, I usually transfer the jam to a zip-topped bag and cut off one corner to pipe it into the center of each cookie. It’s much easier and faster than using a spoon!
Then after a quick trip to the oven…
Your cookies are ready for Santa — or anyone else — to enjoy! And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy jam thumbprint cookies!
Santa's Favorite Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 cup (120g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp secret spice blend see Notes!
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp (21g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp nonfat milk, room temperature
- ½ cup (96g) coconut sugar
- ¼ cup (80g) raspberry jam (see Notes!)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg white, vanilla, and milk. Stir in the coconut sugar. Add in the flour mixture, stirring until incorporated. Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
- To prepare the filling, add the jam to a small bowl, and stir with a spoon until it’s smooth. (It should take a couple minutes!) Once smooth, transfer the jam into a zip-topped bag, and cut off the corner of the bag.
- Roll the cookie dough into 24 small spheres, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Using your index finger or thumb, make an indentation in the center of each, and pipe the jam into the indentations. (If the dough cracks, gently pinch it back together with your fingers.) Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack. (If the cookies stick to the baking sheet, slide a knife underneath each cookie first!)
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You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Secret Ingredient White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Peanut Butter Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Apple Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy cookie recipes!