These here are a tradition of Mother Lovett’s.

I have to admit when I pulled my first batch out of the oven, I smelled her. And no, I’m not talking about her constant release of gas with every step she took. But have you ever seen someone walk and pass gas at the same time for minutes?

I smelled the memories of baking with her around Christmastime. It made me incredibly nostalgic, reminiscent, and hungry. So I ate a few cookies in her remembrance. This will be our first Christmas without her.

I made the dough a day ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge. It really needed to harden. She probably would have made it 4-5 days in advance, but she also used cheese on her sandwiches that was 6 months old.


These cookies were so much fun to make when I was younger because they included food coloring. Do you remember how exciting food coloring (in the droppers) was as a child? I think it was so much fun for me because my mother and grandmother threatened my life if I ever played with it. So naturally, I played with it all the time.

In this case we color the coconut. It comes out pink and green. For the life of me, I could never understand why the coconut didn’t come out red since we were using red food coloring. Mother Lovett was happy, as she loved the pink. I’ll admit – it is pretty.



I’d begin by adding a drop to a cup of coconut and shaking it up. This is about the time where she’d tell me I probably added to much. Once mixed, she’d tell me that I didn’t add enough. So I’d add more. Now that was always too much for Mother Lovett. For the rest of the evening she’d complain about the color of the coconut. There was no pleasing her.

Coloring the coconut this year was stress-free. There was no one yelling at me. And I kind of missed it. But it did come out pretty.



Once the dough has somewhat softened, you roll it into a ball, dip it in some beaten egg whites, and roll it in the coconut.



Mother Lovett quadrupled the batch every year. We never knew how many we’d come out with, since I never rolled the balls into the ‘correct’ size.

So each cookie tray always had to have a mix of colors. Her lack of presence didn’t stop me from doing the same.


After the cookies bake for 5 minutes, you yank them out of the oven and push your thumb into the middle – hence thumbprint. Again, this is something that I ‘usually didn’t do the right way.‘ After I’d push my thumb into each cookie, she’d inevitably come over and push her thumb into the cookie, overtop of my print.


The past few years I had solved this problem. She was too deaf to hear the timer, so I’d sneak behind her, yank the cookies out, push my thumb in and throw them back into the oven.

16 minutes later (after the cookies have been removed completely, and I’m onto the 2nd tray): ‘You forgot the cookies! They are going to burn!’


Good thing I was there. Or else we would all be eating black lumps of crusty burnt dough. And she was so blind that she wouldn’t know the difference.

Once the cookies were finished, the tacky decorating didn’t stop. We’d make an icing, and also color the icing pink and green.




I was always under strict instruction on how to ice the cookies.

‘Ice some of the pink with the green.’

‘Don’t ice too many with green icing, I don’t like it.’

‘Make sure you use more pink icing.’

‘Ice the mixed coconut ones with pink and green.’



Funny, I still played by her rules. I still iced them the way she wanted. And I probably always will.

Holiday Thumbprints

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

1 cup sifted all purpose flour

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream shortening and butter. Add brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift flour and salt together and stir into dough, Roll into 1 inch balls. Dip is slightly beaten egg white. Roll into colored coconut or nuts. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and gently push thumb on top of each cookie. Bake 8 minutes longer. Ice with tinted icing.

Makes about 20 cookies.

*I made a double batch.

*I used buttercream icing.

*I used about 2 1/2 cups of coconut total.



I hope you try these cookies in Mother Lovett’s honor. Each time you eat one, I hope you think of her.

Her love of baking.

Her incessant gas-passing.

Her mispronouncement of words.

Her fridge with 95% expired goods.

Her fighting spirit.

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31 Responses to “Thumbprint Cookies.”

  1. #
    That Kind of Girl — December 19, 2009 @ 8:40 am

    Awww, I loved this post! Just reading it filled me with holiday spirit, and made me so excited to be going to see my own family soon!


  2. #
    Yum Yucky — December 19, 2009 @ 9:39 am

    co-co-co-co-Coconut! NOM!


  3. #
    Morgan — December 19, 2009 @ 9:51 am

    Those are so cute!


  4. #
    Jolene ( — December 19, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    I love the story woven throughout the post … beautiful memory.


  5. #
    Abby (Nibble, Nourish, Run) — December 19, 2009 @ 10:40 am

    Love this post! So sweet…and those cookies are just the most Christmas-y cookies ever! They look so yum!


  6. #
    Erica — December 19, 2009 @ 10:41 am

    What fabulous memories :) These cookies are beautiful and I bet they’re super tasty. I’m a fan of anything involving coconut


  7. #
    LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils — December 19, 2009 @ 10:43 am

    Mother Lovett sounds like a total trip. Love this post. My grandmother always told me I was doing everything wrong too.


  8. #
    The Candid RD — December 19, 2009 @ 10:53 am

    You are too funny. I am imagining an image of your grandmother walking the streets, leaving a trail of stink. I think that’s going to be me when I grow up, seriously. My mom is getting to that stage already, and she’s only 55, yikes.

    These cookies are very familiar to me, as we have them every year (or at least we have ones similar). When I was a child I HATED coconut, so I naturally refused to eat them. Now I love coconut, so bring it on!


  9. #
    Estela @ Weekly Bite — December 19, 2009 @ 11:22 am

    I LOVe thumbprint cookies! I’ve never made them w/the food color though. That adds a nice holiday twist to them!


  10. #
    Allie (Live Laugh Eat) — December 19, 2009 @ 11:56 am

    Love the Christmas colored cookies!!! RIP Mother Lovett!


  11. #
    Kelly B. — December 19, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

    Those look so festive!!! I love that!


  12. #
    Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) — December 19, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

    Hi Jessica!
    OMG The cookies look amazing!!!!!!!!! My grandma used to make thumbprint cookies too. Which ranged from a sugar cookie w/ a Hershey’s Kiss on it to something kinda like this. GRandma’s termed many things “thumbprint cookies” LOL Your icing too looks amazing. I could eat frosting by the carton and so yeah, that works!

    Saw your comment on Deb’s site right above mine about Dessert Protein Powder. I have seen it in mags and it’s probably whey which isnt really so hot for my tummy (and not vegan) but it sounds great and interesting. If you’re bored, tell me your thoughts!

    And as for your question yesterday about craving veggies. Ok so I am not sure how to help someone per se but I have read things to the effect that if someone ONLY craves sweets (which this isnt really the same as not craving veggies) but their could be a candida (yeast) imbalance. Systemic yeast, not vag yeast. If you google candida symptoms possibly you have a yeast issue? That could explain a sweets craving but lack of veggie idea. You may just be a person who doesnt like them :) However, you’re such a good cook and I bet if you prepared them differently you could impress yourself and love them :) I always undercook rather than overcook as overcooked veggies are ransid…and raw isn’t necessarily the way I’d recommend for newbies either b/c raw can equal pungent and too fibrous.

    Ok this is a bible ….love ya girl :)


  13. #
    katie — December 19, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

    ahhhhhhhhhhh coconut!! my dad would LOVE these!! haha love the comment about the gas! totally normal!


  14. #
    Shelley — December 19, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

    stay strong for your first holiday without her :( she sounds like a great woman
    this recipe sounds amazzing


  15. #
    Abby (Abby's VeGaN Eats) — December 19, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

    You certainly are making your grandma proud, Im sure, by testing all her amazing recipes. These cookies look so festive! You and your family are going to have a fabulous spread this year.. I can only imagine!!!


  16. #
    dawn — December 19, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    I love coconut so much. I’ve never ever heard of these. How wild is that? I would love to try a purple color. How awesome right? LOL


  17. #
    Paige @ Running Around Normal — December 19, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

    Those look SO good. I’ve never even heard of anything like that version of thumbprint cookies.
    And LOL at “I’m not talking about her constant release of gas with every step she took.”
    Have a great night!


  18. #
    Stephanie — December 19, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

    I adore your posts about your grandma, and these cookies look nothing short of delicious :) Have a wonderful night girl!


  19. #
    Shannon (The Daily Balance) — December 19, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

    lovely cookies!!! thanks for sharing! ;)


  20. #
    sophia — December 19, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

    95% expired goods? lol!
    I’ll definitely think of Mother Lovett…but I need one of those gorgeous cookies first!


  21. #
    Erica @ somesugarandspice — December 19, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

    wow those look amazing!!! I think I may be adding those to my Christmas cookie list


  22. #
    The Voracious Vegan — December 20, 2009 @ 1:42 am

    Aww I LOVED this post! This is what the holidays are all about, celebrating traditions, remembering fun and happy times we have had with those we love. You really are a beautiful writer, thank you for sharing your memories with us!


  23. #
    Natalie — December 20, 2009 @ 5:53 am

    Aw wow these look so yummy and festive!! Love them!


  24. #
    Naomi(onefitfoodie) — December 20, 2009 @ 9:12 am

    YUMMM looks delish!! :)


  25. #
    Erin @ Big Girl Eats — December 20, 2009 @ 10:01 am

    I swear, I both crack up and tear up over your posts with Mother Lovett. SO sweet and hilarious. She sounds like a riot. And anyone who makes cookies like THAT deserves a post all their own.


  26. #
    Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg — December 20, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

    These cookies are so pretty! I LOVE coconut, so I bet I would really love these. I’m loving your holiday baking posts :-) Keep it up!


  27. #
    Shirley — December 20, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    Your quotes are hilarious!


  28. #
    Low — December 21, 2009 @ 9:38 am

    I love thumbprint cookies! And I was the same way about food coloring. It fascinated me!


  29. #
    Angela — December 23, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

    Hi! i made these cookies last night! They are so good! Thank you!!! I also made the oreo balls with the regular oreos and in the golden! YUMMO!!!

    Thanks again!!!!


  30. #
    Rebekah — February 4, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    Yum! My mom makes thumbprints every christmas the only difference is she rolls hers in cane sugar or crushed walnuts and fills them with jam. I’m having so much fun reading all the old posts on your blog!



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