I have very fond memories of sitting on my aunt’s kitchen bench at the age of four or five, anticipating the moment at which I would be allowed to make the thumb print that gives these biscuits their name. I felt so grown-up being allowed to ‘cook’ and it was always an exciting and satisfying day out. My hands are pretty small even now, so back then my thumbs would have been tiny. I have never asked my aunt…perhaps I fear the answer will burst my childhood pride…but it is likely that she went along and make larger indentations once I was distracted with something else. Otherwise there would have been very little jam in the biscuits! It just goes to show that the size of the indentation can vary significantly depending on the size of your thumb. There’s no need to take the name literally – use any finger you like, or make a double indentation like I do, depending on how much jam you want.
I always became very impatient once the biscuits went into the oven – I wanted them to be ready. Right. Now. So as a way of keeping me happy during the twenty minutes that they take to cook, my Aunt would make me toast. Seems a bit mundane, right? But half a slice of rye bread coated in tahini and honey was almost as exciting as the Thumbprints. And a far healthier snack than lollies or crisps. I have her to thank for my love of tahini and more importantly for introducing these biscuits into my life. As soon as I was allowed to get my hands on a blender (we only bought a food processer this year) I was nagging my parents to let me make Thumbprints. Luckily for them, the biscuits are blindingly easy to prepare, so they didn’t have to watch me make a mess of the kitchen for that long!
You can try to avoid getting your hands sticky when shaping the mixture into balls but it will be futile. Trust me. It’s going to happen. The closest I have come to preventing it is to dampen my hands, especially my palms, with a little cold water at regular intervals. However, in the end I find it is easier to embrace the mess and enjoy it. It does give you a good excuse for substantial finger licking at the end! Which you will want to do as it tastes damn good – rich and deeply nutty with a satisfying crunch that gives way to a gooey, jammy centre. They also smell amazing – it must be something to do with the maple and nuts – and it makes you want to inhale the lot of them. The choice of jam is completely up to you. In the past I have used fig, plum, apricot, nectarine and peach. This time I used strawberry, an old favourite. The only condition is that it is a good quality jam (sugar-free is preferable), or even better a home made one.
Makes about 18.
1 cup almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup sunflower (or other neutral flavoured) oil
½ cup pure maple syrup
Jam – whatever flavour takes your fancy!
Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease two baking trays.
Buzz the almonds to a rough meal in a food processer. Add the oats and buzz until they represent the consistency of a relatively fine meal.
Transfer to a large bowl and stir through the flour, cinnamon and salt.
Whisk the oil and maple syrup together with a fork and tip into the dry mixture. Use a fork to mix until well combined.
Dampen your hands (particularly your palms) with a little cold water and shape tablespoon sized pieces of the dough into smooth balls. Place on greased trays, leaving a few centimetres between each one. You may need to rinse your hands a few times to prevent most of the mixture sticking to them.
Gently press the pad of your thumb (or forefinger if you have really big thumbs) into the centre of each ball to make a decent sized indent. Use the other hand to patch up any cracks and keep them relatively uniform in shape.
Carefully drop about half a teaspoon of jam into each of the indents.
Bake for 18 minutes then remove from oven and leave on baking trays for three minutes to firm up. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Source: Aunty Sera.