almond thumbprint cookies

Nothing says simplicity like reducing your diet to fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy for a week—which is exactly what we did recently, when we temporarily cut out grains and sugar from our daily meals (even the good kinds).

In the beginning, I felt hungry, but by the end, I felt fantastic.

And today, whenever I eat something sweet, I start craving a vegetable.

I see that as a very good thing.

mixing ingredients

So last Saturday, it was in the midst of this experiment that we were planning a movie (Super 8!)/dinner (Silly Goose!) date with good friends and wanted to bring something to snack on. If you’re also the type to sneak treats in at the movie theater, I’m sure you’ve been where we were: you want something easy to transport in your bag, easy to share, totally non-sticky, and totally appropriate with the jug of water you’ve also got shoved in your purse. So for us, this usually means cookies.

tasting the batter

The only problem last week was that meant a cookie without flour (or at least with only a little flour—come on, we were allowed to cheat a little), which reminded me of some adorable little thumbprint cookies I’d seen at Nourishing Gourmet and marked on my Pinterest last month.

forming cookies

Reminiscent of kolachkys but made with ground almonds (or almond meal) rather than flour, these little desserts look like baby danishes and smell like bakery doughnuts, featuring dollops of fruit preserves right in the center.

balls of dough with jelly

(Speaking of fruit preserves: If you’re looking for a good jelly, whether for peanut butter sandwiches or baking almond thumbprint cookies or something else, let me give a shout-out to Trader Joe’s, who makes an excellent organic jelly sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar. We picked raspberry. It is excellent.)

lots of cookies

We made a batch Friday and it was almost gone by the next day, so we made a second batch Saturday, that time subbing whole-grain spelt flour for part of the ground almonds when we ran out.

finished cookies

Both times, these little cookies were just what we were after: small, sweet, and, best of all, so simple: simple ingredients, simple baking process, simple enjoyment—whether in the movie, at coffee or grabbed off the counter in the kitchen.

Almond Thumbprint Cookies
(also known as “little Danish cookies”)
Makes about 20 small cookies

Since the only changes I made to this recipe were using almond meal (Trader Joe’s) instead of grinding almonds and combining everything in a bowl with a hand mixer rather than using a food processor, I’m just going to point you to the full recipe at The Nourishing Gourmet. While you’re there, look around. I love Kimi’s focus on nourishing ingredients and whole-foods recipes.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Vicki

    I’ve heard of Pinterest but not really sure how it works or how it gets started. I just remember thinking this might be a solution to the bulging pile of magazine clippings of recipes to try, places to visit, things to buy, etc. that I swear to my husband will be organized “soon.”

  2. Shannalee

    Vicki, It’s so easy! Create an account, download the “Pin it” button to your web browser and surf away. When you see something you want to pin, click the button.

  3. andrea devon

    i love little thumbprint cookies- thanks for sharing! and i like that you can grind your own flour; the bagged almond meal is so expensive where I live. Thanks for a great snack idea :) aloha, andrea

  4. Maria @ A Platter of Figs

    Thumbprint cookies are one of my favorites. I love grounding the almonds into flour. I had to do it for a cake and loved the more intense almond flour.

  5. angela@spinachtiger

    I frequently cut out sugar and all grains and you’re right, it does make you crave vegetables. These cookies are a the perfect movie snack. (I sneak in my bottle of water too). Hope to see you soon.

  6. Jann

    What is the ingredient on top in the first picture of this post? The darker brown stuff…kind of little round balls. Is it some kind of sweetener?

  7. Shannalee

    Andrea, Great! And by aloha, do you mean you’re in Hawaii? Heading there in October and so excited!

    Maria, Sounds great!

    Angela, Thanks! Looking forward to our next meet-up, too!

    Jann, Great question! That is Sucanat, one of the sweeteners I have on hand. You can read more about it here: It’s usually available at Whole Foods and natural foods stores.

  8. Anne Zimmerman

    A seasonless sweet. Love!

  9. Jann

    Thanks for the info on Sucanat. My mother passed away, and I found a jar of it in her home. It tasted sweet, but I wasn’t sure what it was! Thanks for solving the mystery.

  10. rachel mommarae

    mm… yum… i saw a fabulous snack over at weelicious for roasted chickpeas!~~! which looks another fun snack for my little ones!~its nice to see snacks and desserts actually be nutricious!~~!no trader joes down here… booo….

  11. Maddie

    I’m impressed that you finished out your zero-grains, zero-sugar week without caving—I love the idea, but would’ve cried uncle at the first sign of hunger! If anything could’ve kept me on the wagon, though, these cookies might’ve been it. :)

  12. Jen

    Wow–zero-sugar and zero-grains. I’m so impressed! These cookies are really beautiful and make me want to try this out.

  13. Shannalee

    Isn’t that awesome, Jen? I should clarify that there is no *refined* sugar, although there is 3/4 cup of Sucanat–a more whole version of sugar, but a sugar nonetheless.

  14. Megan Gordon

    A whole week…..I really, really could use this right about now, Shannalee. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve heard people talking about how much ligher and more energetic they felt. Probably so much easier to have a partner in crime to do it with, huh?

  15. Shannalee

    Megan, So true. A partner definitely helps!

  16. Sweet Life Laur

    I’ve been experimenting with eating raw/clean (already lost 5 pounds!), and these look amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  17. erica

    hello! i’m so excited to try this and i just bought the almond meal at trader joe’s. i’m wondering though….did you still use 2 1/2 cups of the almond meal in the recipe?? i’m not sure if 2 1/2 cups of regular almonds ground up would equal that still???
    thanks for your help!

  18. Shannalee

    Hi Erica! I did go ahead and do 2.5 cups of almond meal, and it worked great! Hope you have the same results! : )

  19. Sara

    Where is the recipe!?!?!

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Sara! If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you’ll see a link to Nourishing Traditions, where the full recipe is listed. Enjoy!

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