Christmas Cookie Chronicles

How to Make Coconut Cherry Jam Thumbprints

A holiday series devoted to your cookie exchange success.

By Joanna O'Leary December 6, 2016

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Have you committed to participating in a cookie exchange but a fellow attendee (damn her) has already signed up for your perennial, albeit pedestrian favorites, chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin?  Or are you simply seeking inspiration for your own sugary spread of sweets this holiday? Or do you have a gustatory, borderline erotic fetish for cherries that you’d rather not elaborate on?

If the answer is ‘yes,’ to any of the aforementioned questions, then the Christmas Cookie Chronicles is for you. Thumbprint cookies rank high in the canon of great holiday baked goods, and for a Washingtonian twist on the traditional jam variant, try this recipe (adapted from Ina Garten) for Coconut Cherry thumbprints.


  • 3 sticks salted cream butter, soften at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • Cherry jam or (preferably) preserves 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Add flour to mixture in approximately half-cup intervals, beating on low speed. Combine thoroughly.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Combine egg and water for egg wash while dough is chilling.
  6. Coat your hands with a light dusting of flour and separate dough into spheres roughly the size of golf balls.
  7. Roll each ball in egg wash, then roll in coconut, liberally coating.
  8. Place balls on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
  9. Using your thumb (natch), create a small indentation in the center of each ball. Fill each well with cherry jam or preserves.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until coconut is just lightly brown.

Pro tip: Serve warm with very milky Irish breakfast tea. Store out of sight if you share a house with feline (or canine) marauders.

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