Russian Gingerbread Thumb Print Cookies


These rustic Christmas cookies were inspired by a traditional Russian recipe. Sweetened with honey, full of spices and citrus zest, and with a jam topping, these little cookies are full of flavor.

Traditionally these cookies are rolled out thin, cut into circles and filled with jam (sounds delicious, doesn’t it?). I made the process a bit faster by changing them into jam thumb print cookies. These cookies are almost cake like in texture, as they are more moist in texture.

I find it interesting how very little sweetener and oil/butter some of the authentic Russian cookie recipes call for. We have gotten so used to overly rich and sugary cookies, that we forget that traditionally speaking, just adding some sweetener to a dish or baked good made it special. Today we expect things to be dripping with sweetener to be called a dessert. I appreciate that these cookies aren’t overly sweet, as it makes for a more satisfying snack.

And speaking of nourishing desserts, check out the Nourishing Sweets and Treats Carnival that took place yesterday. There are some wonderful naturally sweetened sweets that were shared there. Thanks everyone for making it such a great success!

Russian Gingerbread Thumb Print Cookies

If you make the cookies smaller, they will be more crisp. Bigger ones will be a bit more cake like.

    1/3 cup of virgin coconut oil or butter
    1/2 cup of honey
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    1 3/4 to 2 cups sprouted whole grain flour (read how I made mine in my post about sprouting grain), or white flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon of each, ground cardamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground cinnamon
    2 tablespoon of crushed blanched almonds (I got blanched slivered almonds and coarsely crushed them with my mortal and pestle).
    1 tablespoon of orange zest
    1 teaspoon of lemon zest

    about 1/2 cup of thick jam (I use fruit sweetened blackberry jam, delicious!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1-In a small saucepan, melt the oil/butter and honey together, just until melted

2-In a medium size bowl add the rest of the ingredients, except the jam, and add the oil and honey mixture. Stir until well combined.

3-Take a small amount of the dough into your hands, and roll it into about 1/2 to 1/4 inch size ball. ( If this seems too difficult, place your dough into the freezer for about 20 minutes.). Place on a greased cookie sheet, and using your thumb make a small indent in the top of your ball. Using a small spoon, or teaspoon place a small amount of jam in the indent. Fill the cookie sheet in this manner, keeping the cookies a few inches apart.

4-Place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the bottom and sides are just starting to brown. Cool on cooling sheets and enjoy.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. ashley (sweetandnatural) says

    I’m excited to have found your site! I do something similar on mine – create recipes using only whole foods…unrefined sweeteners, whole grains, etc. Only I feature only baked goods and sweets. I’m going to bookmark you!

  2. Anonymous says

    Aha! Gingerbread without molasses. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I had some, many years ago, supposedly made to an early American recipe. I remember a beautiful golden colour, cakey texture and a slight aromatic hint of citrus, but unfortunately never got the recipe. Won’t know til I try, but it looks wonderful!

  3. Bren says

    I just made these. Very Christmassy, and you can taste that they aren’t sickeningly weighed down with cruddy ingredients. Very grown-up. I was just shy of having 1/2 cup of honey, so I made up the difference with molasses. Oh, and mine were huge. I came back and read the balls should have been 1/2 inch… mine were 3x that (1/4 inch is smaller a marble – you sure about that?). I didn’t use anywhere near 1/2 cup jam, either. More like 1.5 Tbs. Even if I did it wrong, they’re excellent. They’ve been added to my permanent Christmas recipe collection (and I like that they use citrus when down here the citrus branches are breaking under the weight of all the lemons and oranges this time of year!) Thank you.

  4. Kimi Harris says


    LOL, maybe 1/4 inch is a little too small (I need to get my ruler out), but I did make some of mine tiny. In fact, I couldn’t use my thumb to press down on them, but used one of my smallest fingers (and I have small hands). I probably did use about 1/2 a cup of jam, maybe even a little more. That’s probably because I did more cookies (because they were smaller) and I really piled the jam on them. 🙂

    But I am glad that they turned out for you! I like them even more after a day or two, because the flavors really meld (they also become even softer!)

    It’s so fun to have a recipe that is based off of a bit of history…I like that. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. says

    Yum yum! I didn’t have anything remotely citrus around, so I just added more spices and my sister spent a good long time shaping them into pretty little shapes (that spread into more rounded ones!) I love the grown-up delicate flavor. The other cookies I made were rich and overwhelmingly flavorful, whereas these are so nice and light and satisfying. I’m itching to make more 🙂


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