Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies with Streusel Crumble & Vanilla Icing

With a crumbly streusel topping & stripes of vanilla icing, Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies are tart & sweet,just like bite-size lemon meringue pies!

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Marble platter with finished lemon curd & thyme thumbprint cookies, surrounded by fresh thyme, brown sugar crumble, and a pot of lemon curd. | FeastInThyme.com
Close-up of a lemon curd & thyme thumbprint cookie on a tray. | FeastInThyme.com
A tray of lemon & thyme thumbprint cookies surrounded by thyme leaves. | FeastInThyme.com

Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies

Lemon curd and shortbread. The combination just sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

For this special variation on the classic jam-filled thumbprint cookie, we’re aiming for flavors that are delicate, complicated,and not too sweet on the palette – just like a good lemon meringue pie should taste. The shortbread is made with only a scant fourth cup of sugar, and the fresh thyme adds a subtle herbal note. The addition of brown sugar streusel crumble and a drizzle of vanilla icing keeps the cookie from veering too much to the savory side, however, and few things are as luscious as real lemon curd (after all, it’s mostly butter).

One of the great things about these Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies is that you can make them completely by hand (no electronic mixers) if you’d like. This makes them a great cookie to prepare on the side as your stand mixer is occupied with other types of cookie or bread dough while your baking for the holidays. Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies take less than an hour of active time from start to finish, with plenty of places to pause. That’s really key to a successful baking recipe in my book.

Make Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies for a special treat at a midday tea or a bright addition to your holiday cookie platter. And if you don’t have lemon curd on hand, don’t worry – these cookies are delicious with any fruit preserve you love!

Jump to Recipe
A marble platter of lemon & thyme thumbprint cookies surrounded by thyme leaves. | FeastInThyme.com
Unfinished thyme thumbprint cookies ready for vanilla icing. | FeastInThyme.com

Homemade Lemon Curd

The essential ingredient in this recipe is lemon curd. Store-bought lemon curd is delicious, and all you really need to make these cookies. Homemade lemon curd isn’t that hard to make however – it just takes a little time, and more eggs than you likely expect (6 egg yolks, in this case). My personal favorite recipe is this simple lemon curd recipe by Marisa McClellan of the Food In Jars blog, but any trusted recipe will do.


Versatility of Thumbprint Cookies

It’s hard to debate the versatility of the thumbprint cookie. If you do a lot of preserving (guilty) or are friends with someone who does, you likely have more jam than you know what to do with. Thumbprint cookies are easily adaptable to any jam or preserve you have on hand, whether you need to use up that hoard of jars or just want to switch things up.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard for thumbprint cookies to become boring. When in doubt or lacking an ingredient, there are so many ways to improvise. I’ve even made jam and cheese shortbread thumbprints for a savory take on this classic cookie. Check out this article on Food52 for more inspiration: How to Make Thumbprint Cookies Every Which Way.

An overhead view of a white enamel tray full of thyme thumbprint cookies. | FeastInThyme.com
An overhead view of a white enamel tray full of thyme thumbprint cookies, with lemon curd and crumble on the side. | FeastInThyme.com
An overhead view of a thyme thumbprint cookies on parchment paper, drizzled with vanilla icing. | FeastInThyme.com

Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies with Streusel & Vanilla Icing

With a crumbly streusel topping & stripes of vanilla icing, Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies are tart & tart – like bite-size lemon meringue pies.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American, cookie
Keyword cookie, curd, jam, lemon, preserves, shortbread, thyme, vanilla
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 20 cookies

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, separated from the stems
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest (optional)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, for rolling
  • 1 cup lemon curd (see note)

Streusel Crumble

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup flour

Vanilla Drizzle

  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the Shortbread Dough

  1. Whisk together the granulated and brown sugars with the melted butter until combined. (This can be done by hand, but feel free to use your stand or electric mixer should you prefer!). Mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
  2. Switching to a wooden spoon, mix in the flours, thyme leaves, and lemon zest (if using). As the dough gets stiff, switch to mixing the dough with your hands. Knead the dough for about five minutes, until completely combined. Form the dough into a ball and chill for about 15-20 minutes (to overnight if desired).

Make the Streusel

  1. While the cookies chill, make the streusel crumble topping. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together the ingredients and then set aside. If the mixture feels too wet, you can always add a little more brown sugar as needed.

Form & Bake the Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pull the dough out of the fridge and form it into about 20 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball. Roll them in the powdered sugar and place them on the prepared baking sheet, about an inch apart. Carefully press your thumb into each of the balls to create the indent the lemon curd will sit in. This is how the cookie gets its name.
  2. Fill each indent with lemon curd (about ¼ – ½ teaspoon). Sprinkle the prepared streusel crumble on top of each cookie. Bake the trays of cookies for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the lemon curd has melted a bit into the indents. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on racks for 10-20 minutes.

Add the Vanilla Drizzle

  1. When the thumbprint cookies are room temperature, whisk together the ingredients for the Vanilla Drizzle. Set the cookies out on a clean baking sheet or sheet of parchment paper. Using a spoon with a little frosting on it at a time, drizzle the frosting over the cooled cookies. Be careful not to use too much or make the frosting too thick – it should just add a bit of sweetness to the tart curd, and a lovely look to the cookie.

Storage

  1. Thumbprint cookies will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days; in the fridge for about 1 week; and frozen for about 3 months.

Recipe Notes

 

Homemade vs. Store-Bought Lemon Curd: Homemade lemon curd isn’t difficult to make, and winter is the perfect season to gather up some Meyer lemons for the recipe. You can then use some of the zest from making the curd in the short bread! That being said, store-bought lemon curd is still delicious, and all you really need to make these cookies. 

 

Recipe Alterations: Feel free to adjust this recipe to use any jam or preserve you have on hand. Most citrus marmalades and berry jams will taste delicious with the thyme shortbread, but if you have any doubts, you can always leave the thyme leaves out of the dough. 


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With a crumbly streusel topping & vanilla icing, Lemon Curd & Thyme Thumbprint Cookies are tart & sweet, just like tiny lemon meringue pies!

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