Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies

Christmas Cookie Trivia and Fun Facts

  • Christmas cookies date back to Medieval Europe. Who knew? I certainly didn’t! But after looking into this I found out:

Modern Christmas Cookies can trace their history to recipes from Medieval Europe biscuits, which when many modern ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruit were introduced into the west. By the 16th century Christmas biscuits had become popular across Europe, with lebkuchen being favoured in Germany and papparkakor in Sweden, while in Norway krumkake were popular.

  • Dutch and German settlers first introduced cookie cutters to America.  I have always had a fascination with cookie cutters! I think I can probably thank my Grandma Taylor for this! But did you know:

There is a National Cookie Cutter Museum in Joplin, Missouri?  The cookie cutter collection is cared for by the National Cookie Cutter Collectors Club which was organized in 1982 by four women, Phyllis Wetherill, Evelyn King, Lee Carey and Jill Tucker. 

  • German gingerbread (lebkuchen) was the first cookie/cake associated with Christmas. Growing up we had these cookies every Christmas and I always thought my mother made them. It wasn’t until I was married did find out my mom bought them at the grocery store and they were Archway Brand! I did find out:

The Lebkuchen is a traditional Christmas cookie, which is often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee. There are many regional variations to the Lebkuchen cookie, but the most well-known is the Nurnberger Lebkuchen from the city of Nurnberg!

  • Animal crackers began as edible ornaments.  Every year I used to get a box of these yummy cookies in my stocking!

Nabisco introduced Animal Crackers to the American public in 1902 as a seasonal item and its brightly colored boxes were promoted as Christmas tree ornaments (that’s what the string was for!)

  • The Wellesley Cookie Exchange, A most famous American cookie exchange, began in 1971 as a way to relieve holiday stress.

There are so many websites and blogs dedicated to Christmas cookie exchanges. Most are for a “girls night out” evening of fun!

Well, my thought behind all of this was Today is December 1st! And even though many of you have your Christmas Cookie Exchange Night all planned and invitations sent,  I thought I would share over the next few days cookie recipes of my favorite holiday cookies. The first one I chose is:  Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies. These are sure to be the hit of your exchange or dessert party. They are simple to make and taste like old-fashioned Holiday cookies from your childhood.  Santa will be very happy to see a plate laced with these delicious cookies on Christmas Eve!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking~                                                          



Cranberry jam

12 oz fresh cranberries

1/2 c fresh orange juice

1/2 c water

5-6 T sugar

Sugar cookies

1 1/2 c sugar

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 t salt

1/4 t baking soda

1 t vanilla

1 egg

1/2 c shortening


In a medium sauce pan, combine cranberries, orange juice, water and 4 T sugar, over low heat. Cover and allow to cook, 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, adding more sugar to desired sweetness. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes, until mixture thickens and most of the large cranberries pieces have dissolved. Cool in fridge.

Preheat oven to  375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in vanilla and egg. Add shortening, and combine well with a pastry blender or spoon. Place rounded teaspoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet (these should be small, making 32 cookies total—enough for two baking sheets). With your thumb, make an indent in each of the cookies, and add a teaspoon of cranberry jam.

Transfer to oven and bake 8-10 minutes, until edges begin to brown.  Cool on sheets for a couple of minutes and then transfer to cookie rack. Store in an air tight container.  Makes 32 cookies.


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