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Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

These pepper jelly cornmeal thumbprints are not the cookie you expect—but you’ll love the surprise in your first bite. They twinkle with spicy heat, in the jalapeño jelly centers and from a bit of cayenne in the dough. Honey sweetens these cookies, but it’s modest—all the better to keep them distinctively different.

a bite of Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

Really, the heat doesn’t overwhelm. If you don’t tell them, the unsuspecting cookie muncher might not even figure it out—they enjoy the unique flavor but they may not know why. Or they’ll ask, “What’s the spice in these cookies?” It’s not like they need a gulp of milk, or beer, to tone down the pepper.

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

To appreciate their spicy zing, understated sweetness and cornmeal grain, serve these cookies separate from a crowd of sugar cookies—shining by themselves, instead of in an assortment.

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

I’m posting this recipe as part of a virtual Christmas cookie exchange—a group of bloggers sharing cookie recipes all on the same day, today. My pepper jelly cornmeal thumbprints using honey, cornmeal and whole wheat flour reflect Letty’s Kitchen’s focus on desserts made with whole grains and natural sweeteners. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post and check out the other recipes!

Happy baking! ‘Tis the season.

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints recipe details:

  • Avoid honey’s sticky mess by coating your measuring cup first with oil. I pour it from the bottle, swirl the oil around, and pour it right back into the bottle.
  • Save time forming the 1-inch balls, by using a small scoop, like this one—it’s much easier than dropping the dough from a spoon. I use my little scoop to portion lots of different batters, like gluten-free chocolate mint cookies and vegan chocolate to-die-for truffles.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with joy and peace. Be sure to get in the kitchen and bake some delicious cookies!

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Follow these links to (more than) a baker’s dozen of creative blogs and cookie recipes. I know you’ll find a cookie or three to tempt you into holiday baking!

Caramel Filled Chewy Ginger Cookies from 365 Days of Slow Cooking

Italian Anisette Cookies from A Family Feast

Cranberry Orange Nut Cookies from Apron Strings

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Stuffed Cookies from Barbara Bakes

Soft Pumpkin Cookies + Pumpkin Spice Kisses from Bless this Mess

Soft Maple Sugar Cookies from Crumbs and Chaos

Graham Cracker Log from Hoosier Homemade

Rugelach Bars from Let’s Dish

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from Love from the Oven

Linzer Cookies from Mandy’s Recipe Box

Surprise-inside Christmas Stocking from Munchkin Munchies

Chocolate M&M Cookies from Oh, Sweet Basil

White Chocolate Pecan Snowball Cookies from Rose Bakes

Chocolate Toffee Cranberry Cookies from Taste and Tell

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars from Your Homebased Mom

Spiced Eggnog Cookies from Will Cook for Smiles

Christmas cookie recipe collage

The cookie scoop link is an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting Letty’s Kitchen.

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a bite of Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints
Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints
Author: Letty Flatt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Real Salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pepper Jelly , as needed (I used a Utah made blood orange jalapeño marmalade)
  1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and honey until they are well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. (At this point the batter will look curdled—that is normal. It will come together when the cornmeal and flour are added.)
  2. Mix in the cornmeal. Whisk the flour, paprika, salt, nutmeg and cayenne in a bowl until the spices are well dispersed. Beat into the butter mixture until the dough comes together. Scape into a bowl. Chill 30 minutes, but not so long that the dough is difficult to scoop.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Drop rounded teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1-inch apart. Or scoop the dough into 1-inch balls using a small (#100) scoop.
  4. With your thumb or middle finger make an indent deep into the cookie ball. You may need to dip your finger in flour to keep the dough from sticking to your finger.
  5. Fill with pepper jelly.
  6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are light golden.


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