deep well cookies (aka jam thumbprints)

by Patricia on November 30, 2009 · 5 comments


This is the first cookie I ever made completely from scratch and on my own. I stumbled across the recipe in the Joy of Cooking when I was in high school (even back then I liked to thumb through cookbooks and dream about eating all the delicious things from its pages). These deep well cookies were love at first bite, and became my go-to cookie for some of my teenage years. So when my Sunday school class decided to hold a “bake off”, I took a batch of these… and I won.

I haven’t made these cookies in years, but I’m feeling nostalgic. So, on my first day of Cookies, I give you the award winning deep well cookies (you might know them better as jam thumbprints).


deep well cookies

(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

If you plan on sharing, you may want to make a double batch. Makes about 2 dozen (1 inch!) cookies.

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt (about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon)

  1. Beat butter and sugar until creamy.
  2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  3. This is the hardest part: Chill for 1 hour (or longer).
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Roll into 1 inch balls. Important! 1 inch balls!… Not bigger. If your balls are too big, the cookies will spread into ugly masses like the cookie on the right in the picture above.
  6. Roll balls in sugar (granulated aka regular). [Alternative: Roll balls in lightly beaten egg white and then finely chopped nuts. I did this with pecans as in the first photo… though honestly, the plain ones rolled in sugar are my favorite].
  7. Bake on a greased cookie sheet (or lined with parchment paper or silpat) for 5 minutes. Gently make a dent in the center of each cookie with your thumb (careful they are hot), the back of a spoon, or a thimble (that’s what the Joy of Cooking recommends anyway… a thimble).
  8. Continue baking until done, about 8 minutes. When cool, fill the centers with jam or preserves (strawberry or raspberry is delicious with the lightly buttery cookie…)


1 Lucy December 2, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I can so see why these cookies are award-winning, they look delicious! I could easily munch on mouthful after mouthful of these :D

2 Beth December 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

These look yummy, and as I read your blog I am grateful you did not bring all these delicious treats to HVJ. I would have had to join the track team to work it all off!

3 Melissa December 1, 2009 at 7:18 am

Now I am in the mood to bake today, I was holding out for Friday but that is too far away. We are putting our Christmas tree up tomorrow, so I think we will need some Buckeyes to snack on. Not a cookie I know, or even baking, but still the beginning of holiday treats. Looking forward to all of your cookie posts!

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