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Lime Curd Thumbprint Cookies

I love citrus curds. Lemon, lime – even orange. They’re velvety, slightly sweet, quite tart and the perfect topping for a wire variety of baked goods.

I am not going to claim that this is the best use for a curd because I still think that my spoon is the finest vehicle, but it is a darn nice way to eat it. A crisp buttery cookie makes a great shell for the lime curd, though, like all cookies with moist fillings, the crispness does not last for more than a day. It gives way to a moist, buttery, crumbly cookie that melds into the curd in a very appealing way.

I used Alice Medrich’s recipe for lemon curd and simply substituted lime juice for lemon juice. I didn’t believe that a curd without butter would work, either, but it’s great! Tanvi adapted the recipe to a lighter lemon curd a while back, reducing the sugar from the original. I advise against reducing the sugar in this recipe if you are going to use limes, unless your limes are far less tart than mine. If you have a strong aversion to tartness, you can add one more tablespoon of sugar. Next time, I think that I will stir some lime zest into my curd, which I forgot to do this time, to emphasize the fact that this is lime and not lemon. The vanilla flavor came through wonderfully after refrigeration.

The cookies are easy and versatile. I made them in the “thumbprint” style of cookie here, but you can roll them out or refrigerate the dough and slice them later. The dough produces nice, crisp cookies when unadorned. You can also use jam when making little mini-tarts here, but the lime curd makes them zesty, bright and addictive. esides, you can eat more than one tart and feel good about it. How often can you say that?

Lighter Lime Curd
(adapted from Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts)
1/3 cup strained, fresh lime juice
1-2 tsp lime zest
5 tbsp sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, dissolve sugar into lime juice. Add zest.
Lightly beat egg in a small/medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour lime/sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla
Transfer to a small container and store in the fridge.
Makes 2/3 cup.

Thumbprint Cookies
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk
¼ cup cornstarch
1 ¼ cup ap flour
Lime curd (above) or jam

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cream together butter, sugar and salt. Beat in vanilla, milk and cornstarch. Stir in flour until just combined.
Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in coarse sugar. Place on baking sheet and make a shallow indentation with your thumb. Fill indentation with a bit of lime curd or jam.
Bake tarts for 12-13 minutes, until cookies just start to brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 2 dozen.

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  • bokbaksa
    October 18, 2005

    wow^^ cute and lovely

  • angelika
    October 19, 2005

    Hi Nic,thank you for posting about curd and the cookies using it. I have brought some lemon curd from London – and I loved it. So I am eager to try it myself, and your cookie recipe will be part of my Christmas baking this time, for sure. Have a good day, angelika from vienna

  • cin
    October 19, 2005

    These look delicious, Nic, and with butter-less curd…wow!

  • mari
    October 19, 2005

    Hi, I’m curious which Alice Medrich recipe or book this is from? I have tried several recipes from her “Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts” which have all turned out very well. Love your site, by the way. From another LA girl, m

  • Anonymous
    October 19, 2005


    I was wondering, could I hire you to make my wedding cake???

    email me at lilcee8@yahoo.com

  • Nic
    October 19, 2005

    Angelika – Oh, I think that this would be a great holiday cookie. They’re just so cute!

    Cin – I know – butterless curd is crazy (but tasty!).

    Mari – Thank you! This is an adaptation of the recipe for Lemon Curd in Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts

  • Nupur
    October 19, 2005

    Those look too cute!

  • Tea
    October 19, 2005

    Aww..those cookies look so cute and delicious!

  • Ana
    October 20, 2005

    My grandmother used to make thumbprint cookies with strawberry jam. They looked just like yours and made me think of the old days!

  • Lori
    October 20, 2005

    That’s a beautiful picture, Nic.

  • eric
    October 21, 2005

    Nic, these look great!

    I was going to attempt these tonight, so my better half can bring some to a baby shower tomorrow. But, I had a question about the cornstarch. What does it bring to the final ‘cookie’? And, is that much really needed?


  • Nic
    October 21, 2005

    Eric – It gives the cookie a crisper, more tender texture because it does not, unlike flour, contain gluten. I would not reduce it, but if you absolutely cannot get it, you could try substituting flour.

  • eric
    October 21, 2005

    Thanks Nic. I do have cornstarch, it is just one of those ingredients that I always question whenever it come up. Not sure why though…

  • Anonymous
    October 21, 2005

    Looking for great cookie recipes like this at


  • T
    October 22, 2005

    Hey Nic- what a wonderful usage for the lighter curd! I, like you, think my spoon is the best vehicle for any type of curd, but its a lovely replacement for jam in thumbprint cookies.

  • Anne
    November 8, 2005

    Nic – does the curd keep well? I want to make a jar for my friend’s birthday, but not so sure if it’ll hold up. Also, having about a million vanilla beans around, how about scraping some of that into it instead of vanilla extract? Do you think it’d work? 🙂

  • Nic
    November 8, 2005

    Anne – It does keep well. I’m sure in a sterlised jar it would keep even longer, but I will keep it in the fridge for about a week or so, covered with plastic wrap. It might keep longer, but once it’s open, it goes fast!

  • Ann in Massachusetts
    December 9, 2005

    I did something wrong : ( I doubled the recipe and
    used a mixer, but only got 6 additional cookies.
    I don’t think I was making the cookies too big, as
    they held a scant 1/4 tsp of filling. Some cookies
    flattened out in the oven and the jam ran out, and the
    texture of the cookie itself was tough and a little
    chewy, though I tried not to manhandle the dough.
    I measured carefully, but maybe my oven was off,
    the butter wasn’t soft enough, or the cornstarch was
    old? Any ideas?

  • Nic
    December 9, 2005

    Hi Ann. My best suggestion is to check your oven temperature, because over-baking could cause the cookies to toughen and high temperatures are much more likely to make jam run out. Jam is also more likely to run than something denser, like curd. I used the back of a measuring spoon (a 1/4 tsp, I believe, as you mentioned) to make the holes for the curd in the dough and a deeper hold could help with the running problem. The cookies are not large, so I think that you might have made them bigger than mine. I don’t know what could have caused them to flatten; since there is no chemical leavening, I really wouldn’t have expected that!
    I’m sorry to hear that this didn’t quite work out for you, though. If you decide to try it again, let me know how it works out for you. If something goes wrong, I’ll go back and troubleshoot my recipe.

  • Ann from Massachusetts
    December 10, 2005

    Thanks, Nic. I will get an oven thermometer, even
    though the oven isn’t that old, and throw away the
    corn starch, which was old, and make the cookies

    Today I’m on to chocolate cherry walnut rugelach
    from Epicurious.

  • Reina
    April 9, 2006

    Hi Nic, I stumbled upon your blog a while back and I’ve been a big fan ever since! Love your photos especially. Just tried out this recipe and it turned out pretty well, even though I used whole wheat flour and applesauce instead of the butter. 🙂

  • Bernice
    December 10, 2007

    Hi, I’m looking to make a lemon, white chocolate chunk cookie that I don’t actually have the recipe for but really like. So, I’m wondering if you can substitute the lemon curd for zest and put it IN the cookies. Am I being a little insane?

  • Kim
    April 4, 2010

    Loved the lemon curd – it is the perfect filling for these cookies ! I made the cookies but the dough was REALLY dry. I ended up adding an egg. Can you double check your recipe? Thanks!

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