Thumbprint Cookies (aka, Bun in Oven Cookies)

Thumbprint Cookies (aka, Bun in Oven Cookies)

Coconut bun in the oven heart cookiesThese cookies were inspired by Cynthia Lair and recipes for other jelly-filled cookies. The dough works well for “traditional” holiday cookies made into a variety of shapes using cookie cutters. Cookies may be topped with natural decorating colors (see the book’s Appendix and Resources section on page 302), raisins, or vegan carob chips to make faces and designs to share with your loved ones.


  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking mix 1½ cups almond meal flour (or 1 cup of almonds ground up from scratch)
  • 2 tsp baking powder ¼ tsp sea or Himalayan salt ⅓ cup maple or coconut sugar crystals or xylitol (ground in coffee grinder) (Yacon syrup or brown rice syrup can also be used, mixed with liquid ingredients.)
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax seed (ground in coffee grinder) plus ⅜ cup warm filtered water ⅓ cup organic unrefined walnut or sunflower oil or organic Earth Balance® spread ⅓ cup freshly-squeezed apple juice (or organic, unsweetened 100% juice)
  • 2 tsp alcohol-free almond flavoring
  • 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
  • 1 tsp alcohol-free orange or lemon flavoring Fruit spread of choice (preferably organic, without sweetener) or squares of organic high-cacao content chocolate or a dollop of one of the chocolate toppings (on pages 163-166) in the middle.


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease two cookie sheets with unrefined, virgin coconut oil.
  2. Combine flour, almonds or almond flour, baking powder, salt and sweetener in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flax/water mixture and set aside. In another bowl, combine the oil, juice, and extracts (and liquid syrup if using this instead of xylitol or maple sugar crystals). Once the wet ingredients are combined, add the flax/water mixture.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, kneading a little. Dough will be firm, but moist and malleable.
  5. With your hands or cookie cutters, shape tablespoon-sized amounts of dough into balls, hearts or shapes of your choice. This dough rises a little but does not spread outward, so more cookies can fit on each cookie sheet. (Dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week and can also be frozen and thawed once before using.)
  6. Once the dough is in the shape you wish, flatten each one slightly and indent cookie with your thumb (or a child’s thumb) and put about ½ tsp fruit spread in the imprint. (If using a chocolate square, bake cookies first, then top with chocolate while cookies are warm. The Decadent Chocolate Mousse on page 243 and the chocolate toppings on pages 163-166 work well as a dollop in the center of each cookie. Chill cookies after adding toppings.)
  7. Bake until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Makes: 24 cookies (Tbsp size) 40 cookies (½ Tbsp heart-shaped)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Serving size: 2 cookies

Corn-Free* | Nut and Seed-Free | Nut or Seed-Free | Soy-Free *
*Check labels

Hints, Tips and Substitutions

  • If you are sensitive to nuts, use a different flavoring and/or see the Coconut Bun in the Oven Cookies on page 180.
  • If you use a gluten-free flour mix, check to see if your mix contains baking powder. If it does, omit adding extra baking powder to the recipe.
  • If you are sensitive to soy, use the soy-free (red container) version of Earth Balance®.
  • If you prefer a drier dough, add 6-8 tablespoons of warm water (instead of ⅜ cup) to the flax mixture to create your desired consistency.

Amount per 2 cookie serving: Calories 250; Calories from Fat 130; Total Fat 14g; Saturated Fat 1g;Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 370mg; Total Carbohydrate 28g; Dietary Fiber 3g; Sugars 5g; Protein 6g; Calcium 6% DV; Iron 4% DV. Recipe analyzed for tablespoon-sized cookies made from maple sugar crystals, blueberry fruit spread and sunflower oil.