Red Velvet Thumbprints: A Twist on a Classic Holiday Cookie

The holidays mean many things to me. Family. Christmas carols. Decorations. Cookies.

Definitely cookies.

During the month of December, I spend many days baking my family’s favorite treats like frosted cut-out sugar cookies, pecan bars, and hello dollies. When I was little, my Aunt Missy taught me how to bake, and we would make mint thumbprint cookies every Christmas – a chocolate sugar cookie imprinted with mint chocolate.

My girls love red velvet cupcakes, so they were thrilled when I made these red velvet thumbprints, which combine their favorite cupcakes with my traditional thumbprint cookie.

These cookies are perfect for gifts or a holiday cookie tray. Like traditional red velvet, they aren’t too sweet, and the white chocolate filling is reminiscent of the classic cream cheese cupcake frosting.

Here’s how to make them:

The cookie dough is a stiff batter. Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg and food coloring, then the dry ingredients. As I mentioned, it will be stiff – very stiff. You might think it won’t come together but it will.

You will also notice that this dough is not bright red at all, but more of a reddish chocolate color. Red velvet doesn’t have to mean bright red. Classic red velvet means not-too-sweet and a mild chocolate flavor.

I use a natural food coloring (I like India Tree brand available on Amazon) but you could make these cookies without any food coloring with the same delicious results.

Next, shape the dough into one-inch balls. I have a mini ice cream scoop that is handy to make sure my cookies are the same size, and therefore, bake at the same rate.

Before you put your cookies on the oven, press your thumb into the center of each to make an indentation. Do not press all the way to the bottom of the cookie, but make the indentation bigger than you think, because you want to have enough room to pour in the white chocolate filling.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are set. Cool for two minutes, then use the end of a wooden spoon to remake the indentations. Again, make them bigger than you think you should.

Let the cookies cool completely, and then melt the white chocolate chips. White chocolate chips are more forgiving than semi-sweet chocolate chips when you melt them in the microwave, but you still need to check and stir often.

With a spoon or a zip-close bag with the corner snipped off, fill each thumbprint cookie with the melted chocolate. Let them stand until set.

Red Velvet Thumbprints


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

4 tsp. red food coloring (*Check your health food aisle, local health food store, or head online to find it. I like India Tree brand, which is available on Amazon. If you want to skip this step, you can make the cookies without any food coloring – still delicious!)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups white chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes or until creamy. Add egg, food coloring, and vanilla and beat until well blended.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and beat until dough comes together  – about one minute. The dough will be very stiff.

4. Shape the dough into one-inch balls and place on lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Press your thumb in the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Do not press all the way to the bottom of each cookie.

5. Bake for 12 minutes or until set. Cool 2 minutes, then quickly remake the indentations with the end of a wooden spoon. Be sure to make decently sized indentations. Cool completely.

5. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth, checking and stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Using a spoon or zip-close bag with the corner snipped off, fill each cookie with the melted chocolate and let stand until set. Store at room temperature.

Ready to bake more holiday cookies? Check out our picks for nine unique holiday cookies here!

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Rachael Ray