Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate-Espresso Ganache


Baking legend Claudia Fleming based these melt-in-your mouth cookies on a recipe her mother used to make. They owe their texture to the perfect amount of cornstarch, which makes them exquisitely crumbly without being too dry. The buttercream-like filling is light in texture but stable thanks to the white chocolate.

Thumbprint cookies with white chocolate espresso ganache
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
3 dozen cookies



  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 3/4 ounces)

  • 2/3 cup cornstarch (about 3 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces), softened

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (about 2 ounces)

  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup walnut halves (about 3 1/2 ounces), toasted and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) 


  • 6 ounces white chocolate, roughly chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided

  • 2 tablespoons ground espresso beans (such as Illy Ground Espresso Classico Classic Roast)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Make the cookies

  1. Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium-high; beat until smooth and light in texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until dough just starts to clump together, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add walnuts, and beat on low speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Cover bowl, and chill at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Meanwhile, make the white chocolate–espresso ganache

  1. Place white chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl; set aside. Heat 3/4 cup heavy cream and espresso in a small saucepan over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until mixture bubbles around edge of pan, 4 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; let espresso steep 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Wipe saucepan clean; return strained cream to saucepan. Add corn syrup and salt. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until bubbles appear around edge of pan, 4 to 8 minutes. Pour mixture over white chocolate in bowl; stir gently until melted and smooth. Gradually stir in remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or (preferably) up to 12 hours.

  2. Preheat oven to 325°F with oven racks in top and bottom positions. Shape scant tablespoonfuls (about 1/2 ounce each) of cookie dough into balls, and arrange 1 inch apart on 2 ungreased rimmed baking sheets. Using a moistened thumb, press a deep indentation into center of each dough ball. Bake in preheated oven until very light golden around edges, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom and turning pans 180 degrees halfway through cook time. Let cookies cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  3. Transfer white chocolate–espresso ganache to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, 30 to 45 seconds, being careful not to overbeat. Transfer half of ganache to a piping bag with a 1/2-inch hole cut in the corner. Pipe about 2 teaspoons white chocolate– espresso ganache into indentation of each cookie. Repeat with remaining ganache.

Make Ahead

Cookie dough can be chilled up to 3 days. Ganache can be chilled overnight before whipping. Assembled cookies can be chilled up to overnight.

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