Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies
Baking,  Christmas

Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies with a Scandinavian Touch

Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies

They’d all be here in 15 minutes, my mom alerted me in a text message. My mom and dad, grandma, uncle, and contingent of cousins were on their way, the first arrivals of a 21-person Thanksgiving feast. I reflected on the progress, what still needed to be done, and felt a sense of calm.

The tables were set, the turkeys in the oven and rotisserie, the soup simmering on the stove. Despite a short period of feeling pressured to get everything done a half an hour prior, my husband and I were ready to welcome the first of our first guests.

We’ve hosted feasts in the past–large groups of so many people that we’ve made big batches of chili or ribs and let our guests serve themselves with paper plates and plastic cups. But being our first sit-down meal with more than about 15 people, this event required quite a bit of extra preparation. So off I headed to Ikea for a ridiculous amount of plates, utensils, water glasses, and wine glasses (and a necessary serving of Swedish meatballs in their cafe), and I braved the pre-Thanksgiving holiday rush at the mall to find linens. And then there was the food. Last Sunday I realized that I could minimize my time at the grocery store–guaranteed to be crowded any time in the following days–by ordering most of my groceries online. By the time Tuesday rolled around, I told the women in my Bible study that I was feeling strangely relaxed about hosting such a feast–perhaps that was cause for concern?

Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies

But before I knew it my house was full of relatives from both sides of my husband’s and my family, who were happily mingling and sampling from bottles of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau, Côtes du Rhône, Grenache, and Tempranillo. Soon the dining room was full of relatives hungrily eating a first course of butternut squash and chipotle soup garnished with cocoa-toasted pumpkin seeds and served with aged-cheddar biscuits. While the bowls were emptying, my husband carved the turkeys and the side dishes were passed: Mom’s sweet potatoes in orange cups and her classic sausage dressing, my mother-in-law’s creamy mashed potato casserole, a perfectly sweet-tart cranberry sauce from my sister-in-law, and a squash and radicchio salad from my brother-in-law.

The calm I had felt in the days leading up to the event had not been the calm before the proverbial storm, but rather a sense of peace and confidence that everything was under control, that the day would turn out to be what it should be: a time to spend with loved ones and to reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for.

Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies

A few days ago I even managed to bake a batch of cookies–not for Thanksgiving, but just for fun. I had seen a recipe for cardamom thumbprint cookies in Food & Wine and wanted to give it a try, adding lingonberry preserves to the mix for an extra-Scandinavian touch. We certainly didn’t need any more sweets–we had more pies, cakes, and cookies than we could eat–but baking these amidst all of the holiday preparations gave me a chance to do a little something for myself and it also resulted in being able to send home a box of treats with some family members last night.

With Thanksgiving in the past and the countdown to Christmas now here, I’d like to share with you the first in a series of cookie recipes I’ll be featuring on Outside Oslo in the coming weeks. Whether your Christmas preparations include making the traditional syv slags kaker–seven sorts of Norwegian Christmas cookies–or perhaps making just a few batches of favorite family cookies, I hope you’ll find ideas and inspiration here on the blog. I’m aiming to share seven cookie recipes in the weeks to come, but even though I’ve read that it wouldn’t be a proper Norwegian Christmas without at least seven types, I’m modifying the tradition for my family and choosing to do as many–and only as many–as we can make while still maximizing a sense of togetherness, fun, and holiday cheer. Whether that ends up being three, four, seven, or ten types, I’ll be happy with the results.

I hope that you all had a good Thanksgiving and that you have a blessed holiday season.

Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies

 Almond-Cardamom Thumbprints with Lingonberry Preserves
Adapted from Food & Wine, December 2013

1 cup fine almond flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Approximately 1 cup lingonberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or using a Silpat baking mat (I did the latter and baked the cookies in rounds batches).

Whisk almond flour, all-purpose flour, cardamom, and salt together in a medium bowl to combine. In a medium-to-large bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer for about three minutes, until it becomes light and fluffy; scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary to fully incorporate the ingredients. Beat in the egg and vanilla extracts, then turn down the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Turn out the dough onto your work surface and knead it a few times, forming it into a ball.

Shape the dough into little balls using a tablespoon measure and arrange them on the baking sheets about an inch apart. Make an indentation in the center of each–Food & Wine suggests using a teaspoon for this–and bake until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Reinforce the indentation in each cookie one more time and return the cookies to the oven until they start to turn lightly golden and feel dry to the touch. This should take about seven more minutes.

Immediately transfer the cookies to a rack. When completely cool, stir the lingonberry preserves in a small bowl to create a smoother jam (it’s okay to leave the berries intact), then carefully spoon a little into the center of each cookie.

Makes about two dozen cookies.

Find even more sweet and savory treats in my cookbook Modern Scandinavian Baking!

Modern Scandinavian Baking


  • Maria Angelique

    Oh I love these! I am from Puerto Rico and these are a staple of our Christmas table. Not sure if you have checked out Stonewall Kitchen’s Holiday Jam. It is delicious and takes thumbprint cookies from delicious to amazing!

  • Olivia

    Can you substitute the almond flour for regular flour? There may be some people with nut allergies where I’m making these for.

  • Lila Johnson

    I live in Central Florida now but realize how fortunate I am to have been surrounded by a strong Norwegian “community” and family over the years. Your Daytona Strong website feeds my soul as well as my.tummy. Thank you…Mange Takk❣️

  • Emily De Palma

    Greetings Daytona ~

    You are so lovely! ~ inside and out!

    Your writing is wonderfully uplifting too!!

    Thank you for all you’re sharing with us ~
    & Merry Christmas!

    I made a similar cookie as these Cardamom ones
    at a Cafe (The Cherry Blossom Cafe) I owned & chef’d at,
    (not a good mix as it leads to burn-out)!,

    I found the following tips by trial and error ~
    most importantly they helped with “flow” & saved time, which is energy!

    So as a little holiday gift to all your readers. here are my tips ~ enjoy!

    0). Always sit on a stool when making something like cookies etc. or any job
    actually that you can do sitting instead of standing as it save energy.
    You will feel more rested at the end of the job and you will enjoy it more!!

    1). Log Method:
    If you take the finished mixed dough and instead of shaping it into a “ball,”
    you gently roll it into a 1 1/2 inch log, or two, you can easily slice the log into
    1/2 inch slices, they don’t have to be exact and then form the slice into a ball,
    with your hands.
    This saves time and children can help with the log rolling and slicing with a butter knife etc. (This same method is used for making gnocchi).

    2). if you rub a little dab of butter (1x) or oil on the end of a wooden spoon
    that has an end circumference of 1/2 inch or a bit larger,
    You can easily “poke” the ball that should now be on the cookie sheet,
    with the end of the wooden spoon,
    going into each ball about 2/3rds of the way down to make a hole for the jam.

    * * I love that you add the jam last and don’t bake it!

    3). I have found that baking the cookies with jam in them,
    changes the color of the jam to a dull one,
    the jams flavor is diluted by the heat,
    and the jam dehydrates so it looks less filled and sumptuous
    then before it was baked.

    4).Rolled Out Method:
    I also found an alternate method of making ball cookies.
    If I rolled the dough out into 1/2″ rectangle,
    I could then easily cut out circles with a (2-3″) cookie cutter and
    do the wooden stick hole step to the cut circles,
    filling them with a jam filled pastry tube after the cookies had cooled.
    * A fluted edged round cookie cutter makes them look nice & like a flower, too!

    5). Butter Tip:
    When rolling the dough out, don’t use flour on your counter, under the dough,
    instead use a great trick from a 1950’s Farm Journal Magazine ~
    rub a little butter on your counter and roll the dough on that, also
    add a dab of butter to your rolling pin.
    Nothing sticks! ~ and butter doesn’t dry out a cookie,
    like more flour will sometimes or change the delicate texture of your cookie.
    * This butter tip is great for rolling out breads doughs, rolls scones, etc. too!

    This last “rolling method” saved me a lot of time making cookies!

    Well, I am off to get the ingredients to make your cardamom cookies!

    * Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays Everyone!! *

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