Baesuk Thumbprint Cookies

November 29, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by ulia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 55 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 12 cookies
Author Notes

In one variation of Korean baesuk, hollowed-out Asian pears are steamed with an aromatic blend of honey, ground cinnamon, ginger, jujube dates, and pine nuts. Served warm with a spoon, this spice-forward dish is thought to be an effective cold remedy (though it can also be enjoyed chilled). Even if you’re in tip-top shape, baesuk is a delicious pick-me-up that exudes the cozy notes we naturally crave in the colder months.

Turning baesuk into a cookie—translating both the flavor and appearance of one dish into another—was a creative challenge. When it came to the visual format, thumbprint cookies seemed promising. Like baesuk, they offer a kind of outer vehicle and inner filling to work with. To mirror the flavors of the original dish, shortbread dough is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper, and diced pears are cooked down with jarred honey jujube tea marmalade (such as this one) until they reduce together into a jammy compote. The pear filling is spooned onto the grooved cookies after baking to better retain the shape of the centers, and a sprinkle of eye-catching pine nuts completes the look.

Though not an exact replica, these soft, spiced cookies capture the overall spirit of baesuk and are a festive, visually stunning treat fit for any holiday dessert spread. Serve the thumbprints on the day they’re baked for best results, although any leftovers make for a lovely addition to breakfast or tea the following morning.

Inspired by these Apple Pie Thumbprint Cookies.
Joy Cho

What You'll Need
  • For the cookies:
  • 150 grams (1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (10 to 12 cranks)
  • 113 grams (½ cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 80 grams (⅔ cup) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons strained honey jujube tea marmalade
  • For the pear-jujube filling:
  • 1 ripe medium Bosc pear, peeled, cored, and diced into ¼-inch pieces (about 1 heaping cup of pear pieces)
  • 100 grams (⅓ cup) honey jujube tea marmalade, including any fruit chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the garnish:
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.
  2. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat the mixture on medium speed until it comes together and becomes creamy, about 1 minute.
  3. Beat in the yolk, then beat in the jujube marmalade. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl and beat on low speed just until combined. Carefully beat in the remaining dry ingredients just until no flour patches remain, taking care not to overmix.
  5. Roll the dough into 12 balls (each should be slightly smaller than a golf ball; if you’re using a kitchen scale, each ball should weigh 30 grams), spacing them 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet pans halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and very lightly browned around the edges.
  7. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, use a melon baller (or 1 tablespoon cookie scoop) to gently press a circular indentation 1½ inches in diameter in the center of each cookie. (The indentations should be deep enough to catch the filling.) Cool the cookies on the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.
  8. Make the pear-jujube filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the diced pears, jujube marmalade, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and several cranks of black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture for 6 to 10 minutes (stirring occasionally to start, then more frequently with a rubber spatula as the liquid begins to evaporate), until the filling is reduced and jammy and the pears are softened. Transfer the filling to a small bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. You should have ½ cup.
  9. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the pear-jujube filling onto the center of each cookie and evenly spread into the indentations. Garnish with pine nuts.
  10. The cookies are best enjoyed the day they’re baked, but will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

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1 Review

judy December 4, 2021
I was drawn to this recipe because of the fruit and nut honey. went to look at the honey tea on Amazon. Expensive! some ingredients I no longer eat. So, I will not make. At least as written. But a good inspiration recipe. I lve asian pears, as mentioned, but the recipe calls for Bosc. I wonder why.