Did you know that there is a term for the sense of peace one experience when baking? It’s culinary art therapy. A huffpost article explored the expanding popularity of baking as a mindfulness practice. “'[When you bake, it can mean] you’re not spending time ruminating over your thoughts, we know that rumination leads to depression and sad thoughts, if you’re doing something productive. And the nice thing about baking is that you have such a tangible reward at the end and that can feel very beneficial to others,” an interviewee said.
As soon as I was old enough to work an Easy Bake Oven, I’ve turned to baking as a meditative act. When I shifted to a grain-free diet, I quickly developed recipes to allow me to continue my baking therapy.
As I made this recipe, I fell into that same flow state. The alchemy of turning ingredients into dough, then the repetition of rolling and filling the dough, felt meditative. If you need some baking therapy today, reach for this recipe.
About the ingredients in Paleo Thumbprint Cookies
Cassava flour seemed to arrive suddenly and gloriously in the grain-free baking scene. This light, starchy flour is as close to regular wheat flour as we can get. While there is still no perfect substitute for white flour in recipes, many people have success using cassava flour as a 1:1 replacement for white flour.
Cassava is made from the same root from which tapioca flour is made. Do not confuse the two, however. Tapioca flour is pure starch, while cassava flour – made with the entire yuca root, minus the peel – is slightly more fibrous. I have yet to find cassava flour in stores, so I get it online here. I recommend the Otto’s brand to ensure a good result.
Ghee adds buttery flavor to the shortbread cookie, but without the lactose present in butter. Grassfed ghee boasts a complex nutrition profile, offering fat-soluble vitamins that are often lacking in our diet.
If you don’t have ghee on hand, you can substitute non-hydrogenated palm shortening. It lacks the buttery flavor, but it is a heat-stable and healthy fat. Please get palm shortening from a sustainable source, such as this one. Coconut oil doesn’t seem to work in place of the ghee or shortening for the best shortbread texture.
Fruit-sweetened jam of your choice fills these thumbprint cookies. I recommend the St Dalfour’s Brand, which is a thick jam sweetened with fruit juice. Of course, you can substitute any thick jam that you prefer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl until you have a crumbly dough. You can use a hand-held electric mixer or a spatula.
- Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls, then place on the baking sheet. Press your index finger or thumb in the center to make a well. Press together the edges of the well, so the jam won't seep through the cracks. The well should not be too deep, or the base of the cookie will not be stable enough to hold the jam.
- Fill the wells with a small spoonful of jam.
- Bake 15 minutes, until golden. Let cool COMPLETELY before disturbing them from the baking sheet. Otherwise they will be too crumbly. But when cooled, they have a firm but delicate shortbread texture.