Pickle & Preserve

Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies with Cherry Preserves

November 30, 2014
7 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Makes 36 to 40 cookies
Author Notes

The dough for these flavorful melt-in-your mouth cookies is based on that for the iconic Russian Tea Cake. (Arguably these are Extra-Russian Tea Cakes, what with the buckwheat flour and all...) You may serve them simply dusted with powdered sugar, like traditional RTCs, or poke each cookie gently with a stick (wooden spoon handle), while it’s still hot, to make “thumbprints” to fill with jam. How’s that for versatile?

Volume measures are given for all ingredients, but measuring with scale is not only easier, but more apt to get you the best results possible (put a link here or something?)

This recipe is inspired by the recipes in my latest book, Flavor Flours (Artisan 2014). —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/3 cups (130 grams) walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons (70 grams) buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup (65 grams) oat flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (55 grams) white rice flour, preferably superfine, OR ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons (55 grams) Thai* rice flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) cream cheese, cold, cut in chunks
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • About 1/4 cup (80 grams) cherry preserves
  1. Combine the nuts, buckwheat flour, oat flour, rice flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the nuts are finely ground -- or leave up to half of them a little coarser for texture if you like. Add the cream cheese, butter, water, and vanilla. Process just until a smooth soft dough forms. Scrape the bowl and blend in any stray flour at the bottom of the bowl with your fingers.
  2. Scrape the dough into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours, but preferably 24.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  4. Shape slightly more than level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are well browned on the bottom (you’ll will have to tip one up gently and have a peek underneath) -- if in doubt bake a minute or so longer. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
  5. When the cookies are done, set the tray on racks. For thumbprint cookies, immediately press the handle of a wooden spoon about halfway into the center of each hot cookie.
  6. Let the cookies cool completely before storing or filling. Unfilled cookies may be kept in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks. Shortly before serving, use a fine-mesh strainer (or tea strainer) to dust the cookies with powdered sugar and, for thumbprints, fill depressions with preserves.
  7. *Thai rice flour is even finer than superfine flour and weighs less per cup, so you need a greater volume to get 55 grams.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Andrea Ballard
    Andrea Ballard
  • Losi Panthère Seagrave
    Losi Panthère Seagrave
  • Laura415
  • mainecook61
  • Linda Mounts
    Linda Mounts
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

19 Reviews

Dominika U. December 13, 2020
I followed this recipe *exactly* but the cookies spread a lot in the oven. I chilled the dough for at least 24 hrs. I'm an experienced baker. I used a scale to weigh everything. Not sure why the dough spread so much. The flavor of this dough is truly *awesome*. Really nutty and special and nuanced, not too sweet. Which is why I'd like to make these work. I'm tempted to add AP flour to help stiffen the dough a bit. I was unable to fill them with jam because they didn't have the right spherical shape for me. 😕
RWen December 21, 2021
I agree that there's something missing here. Perhaps different brands of flours impact the overall success.
Andrea B. April 1, 2020
These are amazing! Buckwheat, rice flour and oat flour is a winning combo. We baked and reviewed these in Episode 170 of our Preheated Baking Podcast.
Evan June 3, 2017
These are excellent. I made them without the powdered sugar because they were already plenty sweet to my taste, but everything else I followed to a T. I found that they spread slightly more than I'd like and they're lighter and a little less dense than my favorite shortbreads/butter cookies, not sure if there's a difference in how I baked them that could have influenced that (I noticed the ones on the bottom of the oven and the darker cookie sheet spread less and browned more on the bottom, which was nice) but this is a recipe I hope to perfect through many more rounds of practice over the years. Thanks!
Alissa May 25, 2016
These are delicious! Added some chopped apricots, a splash of brandy, and some cardamom to the cherry preserves. Turned out beautifully.
Losi P. May 8, 2016
I just baked these off and they are perfect, I followed the updated recipe. Made them for mother's day....very toothsome cookie, I would make these again! Perfect with a cup of tea.
Laura415 December 24, 2015
It's a shame that this was printed incorrectly. I am currently in love with buckwheat flour. I make gnocchi with the buckwheat groats and flour and they are to die for. Alice Medrich is a genius with alternative flours. I've got to get her book. I don't have any cherry preserves so the first batch will have to have apricot. Don't be soured on this recipe or this author. She is brilliant! I guess if the cookies spread too much I would chill the dough after shaping. I would also use a silpat or parchment paper to help with dark bottoms. Good luck everyone.
Jen December 22, 2015
I followed the recipe to the exact gram and my cookie spread, the edges burnt, the middles were undercooked they and crumbled apart. The crumbs taste good, but I can't serve these to even my closest friends. I'm bummed! These ingredients are not cheap and I'm also out a GF alternative for Christmas Eve.
This is written only as a warning to the fellow baker. Unfortunately, I did not read the other reviews before baking.
otto December 17, 2015
Betsy December 17, 2015
I made these and found them delicious but mine spread out more than expected rather than staying in balls. Any ideas what went wrong? I believe I followed the recipe quite carefully, including weighing the ingredients.
mainecook61 December 11, 2014
So.....a buckwheat cookie. Does it taste like buckwheat even with all the butter, cream cheese, pecans and oat flour? Yep. Are the baking instructions good? Yes, except that they browned more quickly than I expected and I lost a few to dark bottoms. Double sheets a good idea here. Also, even if you adore buckwheat in a cookie, the cherry jam is the way to go here. Powdered sugar alone will just remind you that these are a VERY distant relative of the "iconic Russian tea cake." Did I like them? Nope. They got very very lonely on the holiday cookie plate.
mjochums December 5, 2014
I made these cookies with the 6 T butter and 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and they are delicious! Curious to try them the correct way...
Linda M. December 4, 2014
I think whomever runs this site needs an editor. How can we rely on your recipes without concern that we've wasted ingredients on nonsense?
Kristen M. December 4, 2014
This was an oversight, which I'm sorry about. We have a dedicated team of editors who respond as quickly as they can when issues like this come up -- we appreciate your patience, and we want mistakes fixed as much as you do!
durun99 December 4, 2014
Thanks for the clarifications, Kristen. I've found many great recipes on this site (especially in your Genius Recipes column) and don't mind the occasional oversight. This is a great service you all provide to many dedicated readers.
Kristen M. December 5, 2014
Thanks so much, durun99 -- appreciate it!
durun99 December 1, 2014
These look good. Two questions: (1) the ingredients list baking powder, the instructions say baking soda---which one should be used? (2) the ingredients call for 6 tablespoons of butter, which is 85 grams, or half the weight listed--should it be 12 tablespoons or 85 grams of butter? Thanks.
devendra December 3, 2014
Looks like the butter measurement has been fixed. But good question about the soda. Soda or powder?
Kristen M. December 4, 2014
durun99 and devandra, thank you for your patience. I've just clarified both in the recipe -- it should be 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and 12 tablespoons (170 grams) butter.