Whole wheat-almond thumbprint cookies recipe (vegan) - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Whole wheat-almond thumbprint cookies recipe (vegan)

vegan whole wheat-almond thumbprint cookies | pamela salzman

I think I might be the only person who owns Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, My Father’s Daughter, to finally be making the recipe called “Lalo’s Cookies.”  The book was published a few years ago and I am just getting around to this recipe.   I was at my friend Alex’s house a few weeks ago and she said to me, “you know what recipe my kids love?”  I was all ears.  “Lalo’s Cookies from Gwyneth’s book.”

“Why have I never tried those?”

“I don’t know, but they’re so easy my kids can make them!”


What I should have done that day was go straight home and do laundry, pay some bills, respond to my emails, work on my book proposal, prep dinner and take the dog for a walk.  Instead, I went straight to Whole Foods to buy barley flour (an ingredient in the recipe) and then went home to make the aforementioned cookies.  I was obsessed and nothing else seemed to matter.  Mr. Picky would just have to wear his soccer jersey a second time, emails would wait until tomorrow and we could eat cookies for dinner!

cookie dough

Alex was right — the cookies were delicious and super easy (ONE BOWL!!)  Because they’re egg-less, they have a shortbread-like quality to them and the perfect subtle, nutty sweetness.  They are slightly crumbly, without falling apart and I really loved the texture.  I love the look of a thumbprint cookie, too.  There’s something so homey and old- fashioned about them.  I used some no sugar-added jam in some, and a Hershey’s kiss in others since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  So cute, don’t you think???

make a thumbprint!

I think this is among the more healthful cookie recipes I have seen, but I couldn’t help but make a few tweaks which, please don’t tell Gwyneth, I have to say made the cookies even better, both taste-wise and nutrition-wise.

fill with jam

Gwyneth’s recipe uses barley flour, like I mentioned.  But who in the heck has barley flour laying around?  Random ingredients is one of the biggest pet peeves of my cooking class students.  Not that there’s anything wrong with barley flour — it’s actually amazing and really high in fiber and protein, but it’s just not an ingredient I have ever seen in anyone’s pantry.  Except Alex’s, of course.  I used whole wheat pastry flour instead.  I also subbed unrefined, virgin coconut oil for the canola oil, which is a big no in my book since it’s always refined and almost always GMO (i.e. it’s a big bottle of free radicals and inflammation.)  I love coconut oil in baked goods.  I think it enhances the sweetness and I really can’t detect any coconut taste.  Then I decided to use almond meal instead of using the food processor to grind almonds, only because I thought it would easier not to break out the food processor.

thumbprint cookies!


thumbprint cookies with a kiss!

The difference in the two batches seen here is barley flour and ground almonds with Hershey kisses vs. whole wheat pastry and almond meal with jam.  My family and I preferred the cookie that had the whole wheat pastry flour-almond meal, but loved the chocolate kiss element of the other.  I know there are a lot of nut-free schools, so I think you could probably make these with ground sunflower seeds, but I can’t be 100% sure.  To make these GF, I would try a good GF flour blend like King Arthur Multipurpose GF Flour and add a pinch of xanthan gum.

vegan thumbprint cookies with a kiss! | pamela salzman

All I can say is that these would be perfecto to make with your kiddos on Valentine’s Day!  Spread some cookie love!

vegan whole wheat-almond thumbprint cookies | pamela salzman

5.0 from 3 reviews
Whole Wheat-Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Serves: makes about 25 cookies
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or barley flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole raw almonds crushed in a food processor or 1 ½ cups almond meal or flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup, Grade A or Grade B
  • No sugar-added jam, such as raspberry, strawberry or blueberry or 25 unwrapped Hershey’s kisses
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for the jam/kisses in a large bowl with a spoon.
  3. Take a tablespoon of the dough and shape into a ball.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
  4. Using your finger, make a dent in the center of each cookie.  Fill with a small bit of jam.  If you want to use Hershey’s kisses, do not add to cookie until after baking.
  5. Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  If you want to use the chocolate kisses, when the cookies come out of the oven, place the piece of chocolate in the indentation and allow to cool.

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  1. These look amazing! Can I make batter ahead and use white whole wheat flour? Thanks!

    • I don’t see why not!

  2. Will try this next week! Curious where you found the evidence to support the statement that canola oil causes inflammation and is full of free radicals?

    • Hope you like the cookies!
      According to the Weston A. Price Foundation and fat experts Sally Fallon and Mary Enig: Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of refining, bleaching and degumming — all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil. The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label.
      Another study published in 2000 in Toxicology Letters specifically looked at the effects of canola oil on blood coagulation time or how long it takes blood to clot in stroke-prone animal subjects. The study found that there was a “canola oil-induced shortening of blood coagulation time and increased fragility in [red blood cell membranes],” which may promote the occurrence of strokes in animal subjects that are stroke-prone.
      According to a study published in the Journal of Food Lipids, when soybean and canola oils purchased in the U.S. were evaluated, “The trans contents were between 0.56% and 4.2% of the total fatty acids.”
      According to Dr. Weil, I use canola oil in moderation, when I want a neutral-tasting oil, but I always look for organic, expeller-pressed brands. The lower-cost products sold in supermarkets have often been extracted with chemical solvents or high-speed presses that generate heat. Both methods alter the oil’s fatty acid chemistry in undesirable ways. Furthermore, canola oil producers use a lot of pesticides on their crops, and I suspect that residues find their way into the finished product, so be sure to check labels.
      I.e., when unsaturated fats are refined, the product is oxidized, thereby creating free-radicals. Free radicals in large quantities promote inflammation in the body.
      I’m not going to even get into the GMO issue, which I know is controversial. Although, I avoid GMO’s like the plague.
      I hope this helps!

      • Pamela,
        This was so helpful. It completely supports why I never purchase canola oil. When I eat out I totally know when I had some rancid oil because it gives me the weird uncomfortable after taste for the rest of the day; almost like sandpaper. Uuh. Anyhoo so helpful!

        • Yes, refined, polyunsaturated fats are positively awful. You’re lucky your body won’t tolerate them, actually!

  3. Besides delicious, these are so easy and quick to make they are my “go to” when short on time and ingredients! Thank you for adapting and sharing. Just wondering if they can also be made gluten free just by using oat flour?

    • I have a feeling it would work, but oat flour is a little heavier so you might not need quite as much.

  4. Delicious! Do you measure your almonds before or after grinding? I measured before and I had 1/2 cup extra. I wanted something very “almond” so I skipped the cinnamon and added 2 tps of almond essence.This is the kind of recipe where you absolutely need FRESH almonds and flour; flavours would be compromised otherwise. I needed the cookies to look good so I used my measuring tablespoon (half spherical) and packed the dough into it. Then, with my 1/2 teaspoon I made the little wells. No kisses available so I used very good dark chocolate chips. Little beauties, perfect with Earl Grey tea… 🙂

    • I measured before. Nice idea to add the almond essence. I should try that next time as my husband loves that extra almond flavor. 🙂

  5. Yay. Success round 2. Redid my barley flour and made sure it was perfectly powdery. I think I need to reduce my oven temperature as these got a little too brown in less than 20 minutes. Thank you for answering my questions and pointing me in the right direction. I’m going to post your page on a Facebook thermomix group.

    • Ah, so glad to hear that. Thanks for reporting back!

  6. I made these yesterday but I ground pearl barley in my thermomix as I couldn’t find barley flour. I’m not sure if I didn’t grind the barley enough. My biscuits were nice but a little gravelly if that makes sense. Should I try again with more grinding do you think? I think they have good potential. I also went a little overboard on the jam and it ran down the side of my biscuits. Unfortunately nowhere near as pretty as yours.

    • I would grind the barley until you have an actual flour. Otherwise you can use whole wheat pastry flour instead!

  7. Are there any other oils you can replace the coconut oil with please?

    • I don’t see why you couldn’t use an olive oil (not a strongly flavored one) or avocado oil or even a macadamia nut oil. Let me know if you try a different one!

      • I made with avocado oil instead of coconut oil and they still came out great!

  8. Do I use wholemeal self raising flour or wholemeal plain flour?

    • Not self-rising, just plain flour.

  9. These are SOO delicious wow. Thank you so much for adapting this, I think they should be the new take on the Purim “hamentashen”! 😀

  10. stuck in a snow storm in Nashville & i only have white all purpose flour … will this do? :-/

    • i have a little coconut flour & also some of the pamelas gluten free artisan flour ! wanted to make these with my two year old to keep her busy tomorrow while we are iced in 🙂

    • Sure! All-purpose (although obviously refined) will still work. You can mix in some of the GF flour you have if you want, but I would avoid the coconut flour for now. It works much differently from the others.

  11. I have been making thumbprint cookies for years (esp. at Christmas), and have always used a traditional recipe with white flour and white sugar. I also rolled the balls of dough in beaten egg white and finely chopped nuts and then made the “thumb print.” In addition, I filled the center with the jelly immediately after the cookies came out of the oven. Well, I made your recipe, and you have convinced me! In fact, I gave “healthy” gifts of cookies, although not with chocolate kisses, to my friends for Valentine’s Day this year. Thank you once again for your healthy twists on traditional recipes!

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Mia! I agree that these are just as tasty as the “original” but much less unhealthy. I had a few for breakfast one day and didn’t even feel a blood sugar crash later. 🙂

  12. I adore thumbprint cookies, and these look great. Is the almond meal from trader joes ok, or would you recommend something finer? Thanks!

    • Almond meal is totally fine! Especially considering the original recipe uses whole almonds that you pulse in the food processor.

      • Thank you!

  13. I have all ingredients except whole wheat pastry flour. Can I use just whole wheat flour?

    • I don’t know since I haven’t tried it. Whole wheat flour is a bit heavier, coarser and drier than whole wheat pastry. Maybe try half whole wheat and half white??

  14. Can you use a combination of one cup each of barley flour (which I do have!) and the whole wheat pastry flour?

    • You have barley flour?? Impressive! Yes, you can absolutely use a combo of both those flours. 🙂

      • Yes plus almond, spelt, oat and a variety of wheat flours. In this way I can be ready for your recipes which have used all of these flours at one time or another.

        • Ha! Sounds good!

      • Just tried the combination of barley and whole wheat pastry flours. Fantastic! My husband, who really does not care for sweets (unlike me!), thought the cookies were delicious. The touch of jam (I used apricot-orange) was perfect. Thanks for another healthy treat.

        • How wonderful! I am really pleased by how flexible this batter is. Enjoy!

  15. Book proposal? Exciting!!

    • Just a proposal. I wish it were an actual book that I had deal for. 😉

      • You know what they say.. a journey of a thousand steps. 🙂

  16. I AM SO EXCITED TO MAKE THESE! And my vegan daughter will be just as thrilled. Thank you so much for all you offer your “fans.”

    • I am so excited for you to make these!!!!!

  17. These. Are. Awesome!!!!! Was having a stressful day but cooking always makes me feel better. I’m glad I chose this recipe. I love your site. I’ve been a big fan for a couple years now. You rock! ❤️

    • You made them already??? Fantastic!! SO glad you liked them!

  18. Looks easy and I love the substitution of Coconut oil rather than canola. Cant wait to try this. Thank you.

    • One bowl = easy peasy! Yes, coconut oil is a way better choice than canola. 🙂

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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