Lemon and Chocolate Filled Cardamom Thumbprints

Lemon and Chocolate Filled Cardamom Thumbprints Recipe

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought I'd prepare some ghoulishly delicious thumbprint cookies. I know, I'm a dork...

I flavored the cookie dough with cardamom. Cardamom is a very versatile spice that goes well with just about everything. For the filling, I used lemon apeels and swirled in a little dark chocolate for contrast. If you're artististically inclined, you could try to draw little bats or scary faces.  No matter what you do, I guarantee it'll be terrifying how fast these cookies disappear!


Yields: 20 cookies

1 egg yolk , optional (see tips for egg allergy)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 tablespoons powdered sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
12 cardamom pods
3 ounces lemon apeels (see tips)
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

For the cardamom, remove all the pods from the shells. In a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom seeds. Crush all the nits and gather the cardamom powder.

Using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg yolk with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar until you get a pale yellow foam. Add the vanilla extract and the cardamom powder.

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.

Cream 8 tablespoons of butter with the remaining powdered sugar (whisk using the handheld mixer to get as much air as possible into the butter). Add the egg mixture and the dry ingredients. Mix with your fingers until the cookie dough is formed. Do NOT over-mix. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Plastic wrap it and place it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

For the lemon apeels and dark chocolate chips, use or make a double boiler. Place a pot filled with hot water, topped with a piece of cloth so the bowl does not move and splatter any water, and place a stainless-steel bowl filled with the lemon apeels on top. Melt them with 3 tablespoons of butter, 1-1/2 tablespoons of heavy cream and 1-1/2 teaspoons of corn syrup.  Repeat the same procedure with the dark chocolate chips with only 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 tablespoon of heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon of corn syrup. Set aside.

Shape the cookie dough into 20 1-inch diameter balls. Place them on a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes at 350°F. Open the oven. Press the center of the cookie using a melon baller or any small spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let them cool down completely to room temperature before taking them off the cookie sheets. They will harden and get firm as they cool down. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of lemon apeel filling in each thumbprint. Using a chopstick, drop in a little chocolate filling and immediately swirl the filling in a pretty design using a toothpick. Let the filling set until firm.

Enjoy with a tall glass of sharbat (Indian milk drink, scroll down for the picture).

Bon appétit!

Pink milk recipe

Cardamom Thumbprint Cookies with Picture


Make sure to press the cookies half-way through the baking time to get nice fault lines on the edge of the cookies.

My 9-year-old sister-in-law is allergic to eggs, so we tried the same recipe without the egg yolk. Just mix all the powdered sugar into the butter. The verdict is that it's feasible but the cookie is more crumbly and far less cohesive. The egg yolk is a powerful binding agent.

For other allergy reasons, I did not decorate the thumbprint cookies with nuts. You can coat the cookies in milk, then garnish the outside ring of the cookies with 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios, cashews or any other nuts you like, right before placing in the oven.

I used Guittard lemon apeels for the ganache. I got them directly from my local store, the Milk Pail Market, 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040, but you  can order through eBay if you can't find them. You can make lemon crème brulées with the rest of the lemon apeels.

For the double boiler, I always like to add a little kitchen towel underneath the chocolate-filled bowl. That way the bowl won't jiggle and there won't be any splatter of water in the chocolate. If the chocolate hardens, place the bowl back on the double boiler.

I usually get cardamom pods at a more reasonable price at the Indian store. If you want to give the cookies a more intense flavor, you can also add a drop of cardamom extract (you can find it in any Indian stores).

I added some heavy cream to the lemon apeels and chocolate to make the mixture smoother and more glossy. You can add any other dairy liquid, such as regular milk, or even omit this part if you want a thicker texture.

You can also store the thumbprint cookie dough up to 3 months in your freezer for last-minute surprise guests.

These cookies are perfect for Thanksgiving as well.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on October 20, 2009.


[-] Junglefrog Cooking - Guest-SimoneJunglefrog
I just discovered your blog through Foodblogs.com and I love it! Gorgeous photos and these little Halloween treats are perfect!

Simone (Junglefrog) Website Link
[ Posted at 12:10 AM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]
No, you're not a dork! I think thumbprint cookies are lots of fun to make. Cardamom goes great in desserts - it's used a lot in Indian sweets.

Palidor Website Link
[ Posted at 3:49 AM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]
[-] Foodie with L ittle Thyme! - Guest-cassie
Beautiful. Love the flavor combinations you used. I think they look like little spider webs.

cassie Website Link
[ Posted at 4:47 AM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]
If this is dorkness, then let me become one! These look marvelous; they'd be gobbled up so quickly. Once again, thank you for the excellent tips. They're the little things that the make a special difference to the final dish or treat, like how to make the little cracks in these cookies.

Tangled Noodle Website Link
[ Posted at 5:23 AM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]
[-] Julia @ Mélanger - Guest-JuliaMlanger
These are adorable, and just so perfect for Halloween. I really love how you have combined caradamom (one of my favourite spices!) with lemon and chocolate. Just delicious!

Julia @ Mélanger Website Link
[ Posted at 2:11 PM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]
[-] Yummy! - Guest-Lisa435
These sound yummy! They look beautiful as well.

Lisa Website Link
[ Posted at 5:36 PM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]
Jackie, why don't you try using soy lecithin in place of the egg yolk for your little sis? I think you've done this before in another recipe. Or maybe you can try incorporating a bit of cooked & cooled cornstarch (or flour) slurry into the dough to see if that'll help hold the cookies together? I don't know how these will work...just some ideas :). I'm sure the little ones won't mind taste testing more cookies!
[ Posted at 11:23 PM on 10/21/09 | Reply ]

Hi Chi Chau,

Thanks for stopping by and for your suggestions. I haven't tried using lecithin for the cookie dough yet when I want to make it egg-free for my little sis-in-law. Lecithin is an emulsifier and it could work. There's also xanthan gum, which is a binder that could work as well. The tricky thing is to find the right quantity to balance the dough perfectly and that means (as you say) a lot of testing. I'll definitely give this a try next time I make thumbprint cookies (probably for Thanksgiving) :oD

[ Posted at 1:11 AM on 10/22/09 | Reply ]
Your cookies look so yummy and amazing!

Pam Website Link
[ Posted at 5:26 AM on 10/22/09 | Reply ]
lemon and cardamom with a splash of chocolate sounds like a marvelously unique and tasty combination. i love your little spider web decoration, too. you're no dork, you're just clever. :)

grace Website Link
[ Posted at 12:58 AM on 10/25/09 | Reply ]
[-] dork or not - Guest-OysterCulture
these cookies look so yummy, and I love the creativity that went into putting them together. Cardamon also has to be one of my favorite spices so you had me right away,

OysterCulture Website Link
[ Posted at 7:42 PM on 10/25/09 | Reply ]

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