Go straight to recipe (skip chatty stuff)

I’ve heard of a lot of things called “Santa’s Thumb Prints” , and most of them are tasty. The only thing the recipes appear to have in common is that they all have a circle of jam dropped into the center of the cookie. The ones my mother makes are nutty and a nice brown color; the ones I had at a party the other day (called “Santa’s Thumb Prints” by the lady who brought them) were more like a sugar cookie dough and were mostly off-white. Both were extremely tasty, and I’m sure you’ve probably run across many other things that go by this name that aren’t quite like either of these examples. One way or the other, here is a natural-sugar version of this holiday cookie. I guess it falls somewhere between what my mother makes and the smooth sugar-cookie variety in texture and flavor. You’ll just have to give it a try and let me know what you think of it :-).

Many kinds of jam are good in these cookies–after all, pretty much all jam is tasty :D. I don’t recommend using marmalade or other such sort-of jams (that includes the apple butter recipe on this blog, though you’re welcome to try that if you want). I usually use raspberry or strawberry, though blackberry is also very good. I just tried some peach jam, and it is pretty good, though my “official taster” (read: my husband) says that it is “good, but not as good as the strawberry.” So, there you go :D. In addition, I find that the darker-colored red jams, like raspberry or strawberry, give a more festive look and contrast with the cookie. Remember that, to be sugar-free, you need to use a all-fruit jam (or, if you don’t mind the nasty taste, I guess you could use a splenda sweetened jam, but that just hurts…and I’ve never done it, because I hate the stuff. No idea how it would bake up). The brand I always get is Polaner (the All Fruit variety), mostly because that’s what’s easily available to me, but it is  a good jam–really nice flavor and the proper consistency every time I get some (not much quality variation between batches).

This photo is of cookies made using the very very very finely chopped nuts (see instructions below), not the ground version. My current blender is dying and doesn’t grind nuts worth anything right now. The red filling is strawberry jam, the yellowy-gold one is one of the peach jam variety.

“Santa’s Thumb Prints” (or “Jam Dots” or something like that, if you want to make them at another time of year :-P)


  • 1 cup whole or sliced almonds
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola or canola blend oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • some fruit-only jam (probably about 1/2 cup, give or take)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grind the oats in a food processor or blender until you have a fine powder, an “oat flour.” Grind the almonds until very fine, or just chop them up very very finely. It’ll make for a different texture if you just chop them (the almonds act more like a flour if you grind them), but it’ll work either way. Put the nuts and powdered oats into a mixing bowl, add the flour, cinnamon and salt, and mix to combine.

Add the oil and maple syrup and mix the dough until it is well combined and uniform in texture.

Roll the dough into approximately one inch balls (about the size of a quarter, but a ball :D). Place balls about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet (or, preferably, on stoneware). Make an indentation in the balls, squishing them out flatish, with your thumb. Put these empty cookies into the oven and bake about 15 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the oven (they won’t be quite done). Put about a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the jam into the indentation in each one. Bake for five more minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Cool them completely (or nearly so :D) before eating, as the jam can get painfully hot, and will sometimes till be very very warm in the center even when the cookie seems pretty cool. Once they’re entirely cool you can eat them or store them, but put sheets of parchment paper or wax paper between the layers in any container where you’ll have to stack them so that you don’t get jam all over the bottoms or cookies stuck at funny angles from transferred stickiness :D.