These easy Gluten-Free Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies feature a buttery brown-sugar cookie base, filled with a simple filling of chopped pecans, vanilla, and heavy cream. Light, yet decadent cookies that are perfect for Christmas.
Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies with Crunchy Pecan Pie Filling
Need a perfect Christmas cookie recipe? Let me introduce you to quite possibly the ultimate Christmas cookie: pecan pie thumbprint cookies. These cookies are the best of all worlds: nutty, buttery, crisply textured, and easy to make. And did I mention gluten-free? Yep, that too.
If you enjoy pecans, these festive little treats are sure to please. Each cookie is indented and filled with a creamy, sugary pecan filling, giving them the best meltingly sweet crunch. You may want to make two batches, because they disappear fast!
What Is Another Name for Thumbprint Cookies?
Thumbprint cookies go by a lot of other names, from the Swedish hallongrotta, meaning raspberry cave (because they are often filled with raspberry jam), to bird’s nest cookies. These buttery, filled cookies are most often made with a jam filling or chocolate filling, but they’re also fabulous with lemon, cream, or nut fillings.
What Are Thumbprint Cookies Made Of?
These pecan pie thumbprint cookies use a slightly modified butter cookie dough, to make cookies that can be shaped and baked with that classic thumbprint shape. The filling mixture is a simple blend of nuts, sugar, cream, and vanilla.
For the Cookies
- Brown Sugar: Firmly packed the brown sugar into your measuring cup, for good measure.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter. Make sure it is softened to cool room temperature.
- Egg: A large, whole egg helps bind the cookie dough together.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract gives the cookies a scrumptious, bakery-style flavor.
- Flour: You’ll need 1:1 gluten-free flour for this recipe.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder keeps the cookies light, instead of heavy and dense. Be sure to use baking powder and not baking soda for this recipe.
For the Filling
- Pecans: Chopped pecans. They should be on the finely chopped side.
- Brown Sugar: Again, firmly packed into the measuring cup for accuracy.
- Whipping Cream: Also known as heavy whipping cream.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract.
Let’s Make Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies!
- Make the Cookie Dough. First, you will need to make sure the oven is preheating to 350°F. Next, combine the brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat these ingredients on medium speed until creamy, and then add the flour and baking powder. Beat at low speed, until the dough is well mixed.
- Shape the Cookies. Set out a couple of cookie sheets (no need to grease them). Roll the dough into balls, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Place these on the cookie sheets, with about two inches of space in between them. Use your thumb to make a dent in each one, rotating your thumb to make the dent into a circle.
- Fill and Bake. Mix together the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Fill each cookie with a rounded teaspoon of the filling. Bake for 8 – 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.
- Cool and Serve. Let the cookies cool for one minute on the cookie sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve or store.
What else should you know about making pecan pie thumbprint cookies? These tips will tell you everything you need to know. Here’s the scoop on baking up the perfect dessert. Enjoy!
- Butter: Whatever butter you use, make sure it’s not overly softened. You want it spreadable but not meltingly soft. If it’s too soft, the cookies can spread a lot and lose their shape.
- Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar has a more robust, molasses taste than light brown sugar, but either one will work in this recipe. The texture of the cookies may differ slightly, depending on which one you use.
- Nuts: You can substitute walnuts in place of the pecans, if you prefer.
Storing and Freezing Guidelines
To keep these pecan pie thumbprint cookies as fresh as possible, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should keep for around 4 days.
These cookies can also be made ahead and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place them in containers with tight-fitting lids, separating the layers of cookies with waxed paper to prevent sticking.
Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups gluten free flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
For the Filling:
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed.
- Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with your thumb; rotate your thumb to hollow out slightly.
- Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling.
- Bake 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to a cooling rack.