Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Making cookie dough:
In a bowl, cream the butter with the powdered sugar. Add the egg, flour, baking powder, baking soda, almond paste and salt. Mix until the cookie dough is formed. Sprinkle with light brown sugar and mix until well distributed. Do not over-mix. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Baking the cookies:
Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or sheets of parchment paper. Using a melon baller, form 22 balls of cookie dough and place onto the baking sheets. Make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart so that they don't touch each other as they expand when they bake.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes at 375°F. Open the oven. Press the center of each cookie using a melon baller or any small spoon. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 8 minutes.
For the raspberry preserves:
Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean (see tips).
Place a small plate in the freezer to use as a tester.
In a small, non-reactive saucepan, place the coarsely mashed raspberries and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Using a large mesh strainer, strain the raspberry pulp and discard the seeds.
Return the raspberries to the saucepan and add granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Make sure the sugar is dissolved, then raise the heat to a full boil and add the vanilla beans. Stir well and transfer a drop of preserves onto the cold plate. After it cools down (2 minutes), if you tilt the plate and it stays in place, it's ready.
As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, spoon about ¼ teaspoon of raspberry preserves into each thumbprint. Let the filling set until firm.
Reserve the rest of the preserves in a jar and store in the refrigerator.
Garnish with fresh raspberries as a reminder of the flavor in the cookies and enjoy with a cup of hot tea.
Make sure to press the cookies half-way through the baking time to get nice crackle lines on the edge of the cookies.
After scraping the grains of vanilla, don't discard the remaining vanilla bean. Just place it in a jar and cover it with regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks and you'll have nice, fragrant vanilla sugar.
I used Odense brand almond paste. I love it for when I need a shortcut. This produces delicious pastries. I will post more recipes with it soon. But if you have a nut allergy (which is the case for one person in our household), you can omit it and the cookies will still be just as good.
You can also store the thumbprint cookie dough up to 3 months in your freezer for last-minute surprise guests. Simply form the cookie dough balls, place onto the baking sheet, then in the freezer until hardened. Transfer to a sealable bag and store in the freezer until ready to bake.