Sorrel Thumbprints


West Indian spices like nutmeg, allspice, and cloves are combined with hibiscus spread in these bite-size cookies.

Sorrel Thumbprints

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
About 2 dozen cookies

The beloved holiday drink, sorrel, made with roselle hibiscus flowers and flavored with West Indian spices like nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger, transforms into a bite-size thumbprint cookie. Ramin Ganeshram created these cookies as an homage to her friend Jackie Summers, creator of Sorel liqueur, and to their shared Caribbean heritage. The sugar cookie riffs delicately on the flavors of black cake, a dark, aromatic fruitcake beloved throughout the Caribbean and often served with a tall glass of sorrel at Christmastime. Don’t skip the mixed essence—it is the hallmark flavor of Caribbean baked goods, providing notes of vanilla and almond. Hibiscus spread is available at Caribbean grocery stores or online at


Cookie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 5/8 ounces)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), softened

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon mixed essence (such as Chief)

  • 1/2 cup white sparkling sugar

Sorrel Filling

  • 1/4 cup hibiscus spread (such as Kassumay Traditional Hibiscus Sabdariffa Fruit Spread)

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) spiced hibiscus liqueur (such as Sorel)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple jelly


Make the cookie dough:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper third and lower third positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in a medium bowl; set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg; beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Add mixed essence; beat until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, beating on low speed until flour is absorbed and stopping to scrape down sides of bowl after each addition, 1 to 2 minutes total.

  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough into 3/4-ounce portions. (You’ll have about 24 scoops.) Roll into balls between your palms. Place sparkling sugar on a plate or in a bowl. Roll balls in sparkling sugar to coat. Arrange balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using your thumb, press down in center of each cookie to create a deep indentation and flatten the cookie at the same time.

  3. Bake cookies in preheated oven until firm to the touch and bottoms are light golden, about 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets between top and bottom racks halfway through baking time. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make the sorrel filling:

  1. Whisk together hibiscus spread, liqueur, and apple jelly in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low, whisking often, until mixture is smooth and slightly thickened and bubbles form across the entire surface, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl, and set aside until completely cool, about 30 minutes. Fill cookie indentations evenly with sorrel filling (about 3/4 teaspoon per cookie).

To Make Ahead

Unfilled cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.

Related Articles