This is, hands down, the most delicious and addictive cookie I have ever created! And by gawd it better be, given that it has been at least 2 years in the works! But consider this a warning... you will not be able to stop eating them (even if you freeze them)!
Butter tarts are amazing not only because they taste soooo good, but because they symbolize Christmas, are quintessentially Canadian and are a classic Canadian treat. I also happen to love anything that vaguely resembles a butter tart, but there really isn't much out there as far as butter tart flavor goes. You've got your basic butter tarts, your butter tart squares and really, that's about it. As far as I'm concerned, that's not nearly enough butter tart options. And that's precisely why I created these Butter Tart cookies. I needed butter tarts in the form of a cookie. They are popular during the holidays but great any time of the year!
Sometimes recipe creation is nothing other than a labour of love.
Nailed it! The creation of this cookie was a very long process. I was able to get the butter tart cookies to taste pretty good at one point, but they still looked hideous. There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel, but instead, I just walked away for a while and focused on other recipes. I have made a lot of batches of these guys, experimenting with different amounts of ingredients (fats, leaveners etc), pre-cooking the filling, then filling the cookie before baking, then filling the cookie partway through the baking process and finally filling it afterwards. And after many trials, I believe I finally nailed it!
I grew up with my Grandma's butter tart recipe and I needed an easy butter tart filling for this butter tart stuffed cookie, so I adapted the filling from her Best Butter tarts recipe and it is perfect! In fact, I love these classic butter tarts so much that I basically wrote and Ode to the Butter Tart and baking in my story: Comfort & Baked Expectations.
For this recipe, you'll need:
- white sugar
- ground pecans
- baking powder
- brown sugar
- whipping cream (heavy cream)
💭To chill or not to chill cookie dough
HEADS UP: There is chilling time involved in this recipe, so you need to budget for it. But if you find you are asking yourself, "Do I really need to chill cookie dough?" "What's the worst that could happen?" Well, I'm here to tell you that, "yes, you do need to chill" or your cookies will spread way too much and they won't be nearly as good or as nice looking. I know this because I am impatient and I tried it. That's also my job as a recipe tester.
So I am pretty sure you will want to budget that extra hour. However, if you're still on the fence and need more convincing, read this article: To chill or not to chill - that is the question!
If you are looking for an interesting cookie for your holiday baking tray, these butter tart thumbprint cookies are the perfect addition.
📖 Variations & Substitutions
- Raisins: If you are not a fan of raisin butter tarts, you can easily substitute pecans.
- Ground pecans: You can substitute ground almonds for ground pecans.
- Leftover butter tart filling: use you leftover butter tart filling to make these cookies!
- Brown sugar - you can use dark brown sugar or light brown sugar for this recipe
You'll need a baking sheet for these butter tart cookies. You will also need and electric hand mixer or stand mixer, mixing bowls, spoons and a whisk.
👪 Serving Size
This butter tart cookie recipe makes 30 cookies. However, you can half, double or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust. You will need additional cookie sheet pans if you are doubling or tripling the recipe.
Refrigeration: These cookies have a gooey filling, so I do NOT recommend stacking them when you store them. However, if you need to, make sure you use parchment paper between the layers. You can store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezing: These cookies will freeze well for up to 3 months in an airtight freezer container.
Out of my pure love for butter tarts, I also created these Butter Tart Waffles. If you love these cookies, you'll love these waffles too!
Did you make this recipe? Please RATE THE RECIPE below
📋 Thumbprint Butter Tart Cookies
Cookie dough ingredients:
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup butter
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup ground pecans * if you cannot find ground pecans, just use chopped pecans and grind them in the food processor
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 ½ cups flour
Butter tart filling ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter + 1 tsp
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon whipping cream (heavy cream)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon raisins *pecans can be substituted -finely chopped
Butter tart Filling:
- In small pot on stove top, add vanilla and whipping cream, heat, then add butter.
- In a medium bowl, combine egg, and brown sugar.
- Add egg mixture to warm cream mixture and simmer on low, then add vinegar and cornstarch. Add raisins here.
- Keep whisking until thickened on med-low heat for about 10-15 minutes. It should be the consistency of gravy. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. After 10 minutes, refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray.
- In large bowl, with an electric mixer on low speed, cream butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs and mix well,
- In a separate mixing bowl, add flour, ground pecan and baking powder together. Mix with spoon until it becomes to stiff to continue using a spoon, then add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and use your hands to mix the dough together until it's completely incorporated.
- Cover and chill dough for 1 hour
- Roll dough into 1 " (approximately) balls. If the dough feels sticky, make sure you have some flour nearby to flour your hands as needed.
- Press thumb into center of ball to make a pit.
- Press outside edges of cookie with a floured fork, as you would around the edge of a pie.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on the bottom
- As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, use your thumb or the bottom of a teaspoon to reinforce indent in cookie.
- Fill indent with about ½ teaspoon of cooled butter tart filling.
- Continue to cool on rack for 5 minutes
- Store in fridge for 10 days or freeze for up to 4 months
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Hi Terry your cookies look spectacular and the fact that they are butter tart inspired makes them all the more enticing. I loved you labor of love story, some recipes are worth it. After all what is creativity without the love and labor to make it real. It is so nice to hear that the butter tart filling was inspired by your grandma, those recipes are priceless. Great job and so glad you walked away and came back to create these delicious cookies. Oh I say to chill, lol.
Have a great day!
Hi Lireto: Thanks so much for your comment!Chill all the way!!! 🙂
Well these look delicious and just the right size of treat. Yummy!
thanks, Sue! Yes, it's a few less calories than a butter tart! 🙂
What a fabulous idea for thumbprint cookies! I mom makes amazing thumbprints, but these might give them a run for their money. We won't tell her 😉
Thanks, Dayna- it's my first foray into thumbprints!
This is brilliant! Butter tarts are a favourite treat of mine, and it's great to see a cookie version. Developing baked recipes requires A LOT of testing, doesn't it?
Hi Cathy- yes, it sure does! Lots of flops, but luckily they still tasted good 🙂
Love this! I'll be sure to add them to my baking list. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Hi Christy, Thanks! I hope you like them 🙂
I just love butter tarts and I’m sure if I made these, I wouldn’t be able to stop eating them. They look delicious.
I was wondering if I could use ground almonds instead of pecans, my daughter has a peanut allergy and some individual nuts are prepared in same factory as peanuts
Yes, you could definitely use ground almonds instead of pecans. Enjoy!
I am in the process of baking this cookie. All is going well. Dough is chilling and filling as cooling. But I don't see when I am to add them raisins? Do they go in the filling how or in the pocket of the cookie prior to adding filling?
Thanks in advance. I am sure they will be awesome.
Thanks for pointing that out! Ideally you'll want to add them when you're making the mix, only because it's easier and gives them a chance to plump up a bit more. But you can add them to the cookie before baking as well. I've revised the recipe now to include this info.
I was wondering for the pecans, can they be raw? Or do they have to be toasted? Thank you! Excited to try the recipe.
No they don't - I never toast them. But you can if you want 🙂 Enjoy!
Hi I was wondering if I could use gluten free flour??, as my son is celiac .
I have never tried it - but I don't see why not! I'd love to hear how it turns out.