Persimmon Jam & Rye Thumbprint Cookies
December 22, 2020
Have you ever had anything persimmon flavored before? They are such an interesting fruit, with a sweet and subtle flavor, reminiscent of a honeyed apricot or mango. Whether persimmons are new to you or an old favorite, I know that you will love these thumbprint cookies. They highlight the flavor by placing persimmon jam in the middle of the almond and rye cookie.
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These cookies are definitely an impressive treat. The depth of flavor will have your guests wondering about your secret ingredients. And the chewy texture with sticky jam is just delightful. They are hard to stop eating.
In this recipe, I used hachiya persimmons. These are the larger, heart-shaped variety, which needs to be fully ripe and soft to be sweet. When you buy them, they will likely be firm. Let them sit on the counter for a few days until super soft. They’ll feel like a water balloon.
What You Need to Get Started
- Produce: Hachiya persimmons
- From the Bar: Bourbon (I like Maker’s Mark)
- Pantry: Granulated sugar, Rye flour, All purpose flour, Baking powder
- Spice Rack: Cinnamon sticks, Star anise, Salt, Almond extract
- Fridge: Unsalted butter, Egg
- Equipment: Pot, Slotted spoon, Baking sheet, Parchment paper, Stand mixer, Whisk, Silicone spatula
Let’s Make Persimmon Jam
When you are working with very ripe and soft hachiya persimmons, the best way to get to that sweet flesh is to scoop it out. Slice off the top of the fruit, including the leaves, and then grab a spoon. The flesh should come out very easily and taste sweet. If it has a chalky taste, your persimmons may not be ripe quite yet.
Add the flesh into a saucepan with sugar, bourbon, and some whole spices. Using cinnamon sticks and star anise allows you to infuse some flavor into the jam, without overpowering the delicate persimmon. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Then let it boil for five minutes. Stir it every once in a while to prevent sticking, but mostly, you are just letting all those flavors come together. It should start to thicken and get a bit sticky. At this point, use a slotted spoon to remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise.
Continue boiling for another five minutes. You want to stir it a bit more frequently, since there is less liquid, which means it will more easily stick. Also, use a spatula or spoon to break apart any large fruit pieces. The jam should be thickening up and gelling quite a bit at this point.
Turn off the heat, and add a pinch of salt to taste. The salt will help bring out all the other flavors, but you don’t want to use a ton. Let the jam cool for a few minutes, and then transfer it carefully to a glass jar or bowl. Set this aside to cool fully.
How to Make Rye Thumbprint Cookies
While the jam is cooling, it’s time to start the cookie dough. This is a good time to preheat your oven and line a baking sheet with parchment. Even though this recipe features rye flour, the method of making these cookies is fairly standard.
Start by using room temperature butter, and creaming it together with sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. This allows tiny air pockets to form in the butter, which will help make your cookies fluffy and thick.
Add in the egg and almond extract. I really love the flavor of almond in cookies, and in this recipe, I decided to feature it. The nuttiness pairs really nicely with the sweet and fragrant persimmon jam. However, you can make a nut free version using vanilla, which will have a different flavor.
Mix everything together until it’s smooth. Then begin whisking your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. As with most cookies, we’re using the wet + dry method here. Adding the dry ingredients all together prevents overmixing and pockets of salt or baking powder.
We are using a combination of rye and all-purpose flour. The white flour helps with texture, whereas the rye is mainly for flavor. It’s a complex taste, which adds a maltiness and nuttiness to the cookies. This works well with the almond flavor, and helps to highlight the sweet persimmons.
Add the dry ingredients into the mixer, and stir until just combined. The dough will be fairly thick, and you may need to switch to a silicone spatula toward the end if your mixer is struggling. Once done, form 1-inch balls and place them a couple inches apart on a baking sheet.
Freeze the entire baking sheet for 10 minutes. This step is not optional, and it will help your cookies be thick and fluffy instead of flat. Starting with cold butter allows time for the cookies to puff up before the butter melts and they begin to spread.
Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes. I found that 8 exactly was perfect, but every oven is different. When they come out of the oven, they won’t look done and will be quite soft. That’s exactly what we’re going for.
Use a cork, or similarly sized object, to create a depression in the center of each cookie. Add a small spoonful of the cooled persimmon jam into the hole. Then let the cookies cool thoroughly on a rack.
Give persimmons a try with tasty and impressive cookies! These rye and almond thumbprints are filled with a dollop of persimmon jam for a sweet, bite-sized treat.
How to Serve Persimmon Thumbprint Cookies
Once cooled, you can enjoy these thumbprints immediately, or you can store them in the fridge for a few days. Because of the fresh jam, I don’t recommend storing them at room temperature. However, let them sit out for about ten minutes after removing them from the fridge to thaw slightly.
You can serve these cookies as a snack or dessert. They would be delicious with a warm mug of chai white hot chocolate and a cozy book. For a little more kick, try a hazelnut eggnog or an amaretto old fashioned, which both feature bourbon.
These would also make the perfect addition to any cookie tray! Try combining them with a few of my other favorites like cherry chocolate chip cookies, miso peanut butter cup cookies, and cream cheese oatmeal cookie sandwiches.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Excess persimmon jam can be used to make a second batch of these cookies! Or you can spread it on buttered toast with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.
- If you have extra persimmons, check out some of the recipes in one of my favorite cookbooks, Sweeter Off the Vine.
- Almond extract is one of my favorite ingredients in cookies, but also try it in the filling for easy cream puffs.
- Use rye flour along with bourbon in the crust of a classic apple tart.
Persimmon Jam & Rye Thumbprint Cookies
- 2 Hachiya Persimmons ripe and soft
- ¼ Cup Bourbon
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1-2 Cinnamon Stick
- 1-2 Star anise
- pinch Salt
- ¾ Cup Unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks) room temperature
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Egg room temperature
- ½ tsp Almond Extract
- ¾ Cup Rye Flour
- 1 ¼ Cups All-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- Scoop the flesh out of the persimmons, removing any seeds, and add to a medium pot with the bourbon, sugar, cinnamon, and star anise. Heat on medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar until the mixture is boiling.
- Continue boiling for 5 minutes. Then use a slotted spoon to remove the cinnamon stick and star anise, and discard.
- Stir gently, and then continue boiling another 5 minutes, using a spatula or wooden spoon to break up any large pieces of fruit, until thickened slightly. Turn off the heat and stir in salt to taste.
- Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a glass bowl or jar. Cover loosely and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until lightened in color and fluffy in texture, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides, then add in the egg and almond extract, and continue mixing on medium-low until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking powder until uniform. Add the dry ingredients into the mixer bowl, and mix on low until just incorporated.
- Form the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet, 2-inches apart. I fit 8 cookies on a standard half sheet pan. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the freezer and place directly into the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes. The cookies will not look done, and they should have spread slightly.
- Before cooling, use a cork or a another similarly sized object to make a depression in the center of each cookie. Then fill with ½ tsp of the persimmon jam.
- Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Serve warm or cooled the same day, or store these in the fridge for 3-4 days. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving chilled cookies.
- Make-Ahead Tip:
- You can make the persimmon jam up to 2 weeks in advance. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge.
- You can make the cookie dough 2-3 days in advance and store covered in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before forming the balls.
- Store baked and filled cookies in the fridge for 3-4 days. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
- If you don't like rye flour, you can use all white flour, or swap the rye for white whole wheat.
- For a different and more subtle flavor, replace the almond extract with vanilla extract.
- If you are not able to find persimmons or don't like them, these can be filled with your favorite jam. Peach, apricot, cherry, or raspberry would work well with these cookies.