Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with Cherry Buttercream

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These Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with Cherry Buttercream are the summer-ready version of pecan sandies. Sunnyland Farms’ hand-harvested Raw Georgia Pecan Halves take center stage in the buttery cookie base, adding irresistible crunch to every bite. A generous swirl of sweet-tart Cherry Buttercream sends this recipe right over the edge. Don’t worry, the buttercream recipe makes a little extra so you can top off your shortbread with it, spread it on a slice of cake, or simply eat it by the spoonful. Trust us, you won’t be able to get enough.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with Cherry Buttercream
Makes about 55 cookies
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks (37 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (85 grams) chopped pecans*, toasted and cooled
  • 2¼ cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
  • Cherry Buttercream (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In the work bowl of a food processor, place pecans and ¼ cup (31 grams) flour; pulse until ground. Add salt and remaining 2 cups (250 grams) flour; pulse to combine. With mixer on low speed, gradually add pecan mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (about 13 grams), and place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Using your thumb or a ¼ teaspoon, gently make an indentation in center of each ball.
  5. Bake until bottoms are golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven, and press down centers again. Let cool on pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Place Cherry Buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a medium open star tip (Wilton #32). Pipe Cherry Buttercream into center of each cookie.
* We used Sunnyland Farms Raw Georgia Pecan Halves

4.0 from 1 reviews
Cherry Buttercream
Makes about 2 cups
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) almond extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups (360 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (40 grams) pure cherry concentrate*
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, almond extract, and salt at medium speed until creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and cherry concentrate, beating until smooth. Use immediately.
* We used Tart is Smart Tart Cherry Concentrate, found in the fruit juice aisle of most grocery stores or online.


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  1. There is an asterisk following the cherry concentrate in the ingredient list. However, the asterisk does not connect to anything.

    • Hi Shirley, thank you so much for pointing this out to us! We have fixed the recipe to include the asterisk, which has information on what brand of cherry concentrate we used and where to find it.

  2. These cookies are delicious and everyone loves them! My question is, how do you get the cherry buttercream to be the pale pink as pictured? I used the same cherry concentrate in the recipe, but without a couple drops of food coloring, it comes out beige!

    • Hey Peggy,

      Oh no! In testing, our buttercream still came out delicately pink, without any food coloring. One thought is that the butter and extract might have affected the coloring—we use a bright yellow European butter and a clear almond extract that might have made the pink more bright. Either way, a drop or two of red food coloring should help balance it out. We are glad to hear that the cookies were still tasty, and we hope this helps!


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