Cornmeal Thumbprints with Meyer Lemon Curd

I’ve always had a soft spot for thumbprint cookies. There is just something so quaint about them – so sweetly rustic and so homey  – that you just can’t help but be charmed. I guess we all have certain foods that for one reason or another get mixed up with the sensations of our childhood. For me, thumbprints are it. Just looking at one makes me feel like life is a little less complicated than I thought before. What other sort of cookie, after all, do you get to squash down with your thumb and then fill up that said thumbprint with jam? As if your thumbprint were magical, as if wherever you pressed down your thumb, wonderful sweet things materialized out of thin air.

I hadn’t made thumbprints in quite a while, I’d forgotten all about them actually. It was Sunday afternoon, as I was stirring a pot of lemon curd on the stove top, that they came into my mind. Inhaling sticky sweet lemon fumes will do that I think – make you think of  things you loved as a child. I’d been more focused on that lemon curd really – on all the citrus I lugged home from the store earlier that day – blood oranges, clementines, ruby-red grapefruits and Meyer lemons –  and the way all that citrusy brightness and sharpness seemed to clear out the winter gloom just as sure as a warm spring breeze. I had been thinking about what I might do with that lemon curd, having never made it before. Perhaps spooned onto some warm bread, perhaps baked into little tarts. Then I thought of the thumbprints, and it was clear what I had to do.

It just so happened that on Sunday, there was also a tiny bit of cornbread left over from Saturday’s dinner. And so, lacking any bread and wanting to sample a little lemon curd on something warm spread with a slab of butter, I grabbed a hunk of this cornbread for that purpose and discovered something else. Cornmeal and lemons are made for each other. So then, my wheels turning now, I set out to break new ground, to explore a new frontier. Not just lemon curd thumbprints, but cornmeal lemon curd thumbprints. Somehow, it possibly even makes thumbprints more quaint and filled with down-home sweetness than they even were before.

Cornmeal thumbprints with Meyer Lemon Curd

To make the curd:

  • 6 tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup organic unrefined cane sugar
  • 3 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons)
  • 2 whole free range organic eggs, plus one yolk

Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a saucepan with the sugar.

Zest the lemons into the saucepan along with the sugar and butter, and then squeeze the juice into the saucepan through a strainer (or your hand) to catch any seeds.

Whisk the eggs and the extra egg yolk with a fork and then add to the saucepan as well.

Place the pan on low heat and stir occasionally until the butter has melted. Then, with the heat still on the lowest setting, stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon so that you can leave a clear line when you swipe your finger down it. This takes about 10-12 minutes. Once the sauce reaches the right consistency, immediately remove from heat, and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a pint mason jar, and place in the fridge to cool while you prepare your cookies.

Makes about 1 pint.

For the thumbprints:

Dry ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter (unsalted and organic)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside, making a little well in the center. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add to the dry ingredients, pouring into the well. Mix well and then form tablespoons of the dough into little balls, flattening them to make circles. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Using your thumb, place an indent into the center of each cookie and then put about 1/2 teaspoon of the curd into the thumbprint. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let cool for a minute on the tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 cookies.

P.S. Save your lemon peels from the curd and use them for making a delicious tea (lemon peel is full of anti-inflammatory flavanoids, has anti-depressant properties, stimulates the liver and is great for digestion – so don’t waste those extremely valuable peels!!). Combine 2 or 3 thinly sliced strips with a few tablespoons of black tea and a good pinch of cardamom and enjoy with your cookies.


  1. Just lovely!

  2. Wonderful words, and those cookies look so delicious I will have to try them soon!

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Thank you, my dear. I hope you will enjoy them – and the lemon curd is so nice to have around for other things too. I keep finding more and more things to slather it on – last night mixing it with Greek yogurt which was really yummy. Enjoy:)


  3. Hi Danielle,
    I am sad to say I have never had a thumbprint before. I see now how I have been missing out! Lemon curd was one of my favourite things as a child, though its been many years since I had any.
    I love that last picture of the biscuit with your teacup… so cute!
    Lots of sweet, sticky, lemony love to you xxx

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hello sweetie,
      Oh you have, you have! You must immediately go and make some 🙂 If you wanted to do the recipes sans dairy then you can substitute coconut oil and they are just as good. Sweet lemon kisses to you too 🙂


  4. Oh slow down my frantically beating heart!………homemade Lemon Curd? Now you have touched a memory there for I would for ages on my way home from work stop at my favorite coffee shop for a double Expresso and homemade Lemon Curd Shortbread Tarts. The bitter black coffee juxtaposed perfectly with the sweet buttery shortbread and then the tart creamy lemon curd topped it all off so divinely……….Mmmmmmmmm.
    BTW how much quantity does the curd recipe make (just asking…as I might have to make a double batch as I always indulge myself so. Please do excuse me drooling like Pavlov’s dogs into my keyboard right now.

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Double espresso and lemon curd shortbread tarts ?!? What sort of heavenly place is this!! I think tonight I will do that very thing – as you say, I think those two flavors are just meant for each other!! Anyhow, the curd recipe makes just under a pint, which might I must say does not last as long as you’d think (at least with me around). I won’t deny that sometimes I eat it by the spoonful…


  5. marthasnail says:

    hi d.
    i haven’t made lemon curd in a few years. thanks for the
    reminder. these cornmeal thumbprints look so good and i
    love your tip about the lemon peel. always so inspiring
    to visit you here. xo

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Shari,

      Well thank you for your sweet words! I feel just the same about visiting you 🙂 My other favorite lemon peel tea is to combine the lemon peel with a 1/4 of a finely chopped up vanilla bean. Perhaps a little decadent, but you can re-infuse it several times and it tastes so divine 🙂 Much love,

  6. This entry is just so full of good ideas, I can almost taste them through my eyes.

  7. Oh yum yum yum! Just YUM! I can’t hardly think of another word, except… thank you! xxxxx (btw, what an adorable tea cup!) xoxoxo

Speak Your Mind