Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies

Raise your hand if ever in your life you have struggled with a recipe. My hand is waaaaaay up there (well, as high up as it can get when you’re only 5’1). Sometimes it’s cupcake batter that runneth over and spills all over the inside of the oven. Sometimes it’s a cake that ends up looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sometimes it’s an experiment gone terribly (and inedible-y) awry. Sometimes it’s trying to recreate a favorite treat from a restaurant or bakery and you just.can’ These have all happened to me (some, many times over!), but today, I’m focusing on that last one – recreating a favorite treat. Here in Pittsburgh, Giant Eagle is our large supermarket chain, and their bakery sells the most addicting cookies ever – Chocolate Thumbprints with Sprinkles.

These are, without question, my Chief Culinary Consultant’s favorite store-bought cookie and he has done a fabulous job of getting me completely addicted to them. Approximately one out of every two times we wander into the grocery store, we wander out with a dozen of those cookies. Then, we promptly polish them off in less time than I care to admit. For the longest time, I have been trying to recreate those little devils, and I’ve finally got something close!

The cookies from Giant Eagle are not crispy, but they’re not soft or chewy either; rather, they’re very tender. They crumble a little bit when you bite into them, but then they have some give. The cookie is only the first part of the equation; once we get past that part, it’s figuring out the frosting. To be quite honest, it tastes pretty much like chocolate frosting from a can, which normally I’m all “bleh” about, but oh my, on these cookies… I want to swim in it. Turns out, it’s pretty darn difficult to try to make frosting from scratch that tastes like frosting from a can. Shocking, right? I think that’s probably a good thing, but doesn’t make it any easier!

I have gone through no less than four or five iterations of these cookies, two batches of which needed to be thrown out when experiments went awry! I’ve played with different ingredients, ratios, and mixing methods and have taken copious amounts of notes on pretty much every thumbprint recipe known to man.

These babies are my pseudo-final (but-still-a-work-in-progress) version of the ever-famous Giant Eagle Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies. They are close, but I’m dying to get it as close to exact as possible. The recipe, of course, is a “Giant Eagle bakery secret” so I’m on my own! If I make any changes to the recipe below in the future, I’ll add a date and an edit note so you know what’s been changed.

What recipes have left you stumped? Or scrubbing your kitchen from top to bottom? 😉

One year ago: Fresh Strawberry Pie

Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


For the Cookies:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles

For the Chocolate Icing:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 tablespoons whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside. Pour the chocolate sprinkles into a small bowl; set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Once it is mostly incorporated, slowly increase the speed back to medium-high and beat for another minute or so until a dough forms.

3. Scoop out a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and then roll it in the chocolate sprinkles and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing your cookies about 1½ inches apart on the baking sheet. Make a slight indentation with your thumb (or the back of a melon baller - my favorite tool for this task) on the tops of all the cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, then make a deeper indentation in the middle, and bake for an additional 8 minutes. The cookies should not brown much at all around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, make the chocolate icing for the filling. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and creamy. Reduce speed to low, add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth. Add the milk and the vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or milk to achieve the desired consistency.

5. Once the cookies are cool, pipe some frosting into the middle of each cookie (or you can spoon it in). Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Frigidaire. When you share your own do-over moment at, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs. Plus, Frigidaire will help cover the costs for one lucky visitor to win the ultimate do-over.[/donotprint]


126 Responses to “Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on June 15, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Wow, it looks like you worked really hard on this one!! It seems it was a success because they look amazing :) I’ve been stumped on so many recipes that they wouldn’t even all fit in one comment ha ha. One I can think of off the top of my head is rice noodles – they always come out a mushy mess!


    • Ananya on June 20th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Oh my gosh, those are so pretty! I am only 10 yrs. old and I just got my interest in baking and cooking, and the moment I saw your website I immediately subscribed! Your icing skills are amazing and your determination is awesome. These look so good and I am going to try and get all the stuff I need to make these ASAP! Thanks for helping a beginner baker/cooker!
      ~A big fan


      • Mackenzie on June 24th, 2012 at 8:57 am

        That’s so cool that your 10 and you are baking! I’m twelve, and started when i was 10 too! If you want some easy recipes and cool blogs, besides this one, here’s some that have some really cute stuff:

        Pioneer Woman
        Cookies and Cups
        Glorious Treats
        Bake @ 350

        Hope you like them! :)


        • Ananya on July 2nd, 2012 at 1:18 am

          Thanks Mackenzie! It’s nice to know that I am not the only kid on this blog.


  2. Miriam @ Overtime Cook on June 15, 2012 at 1:23 am

    These cookies look so beautiful! I love thumbprint cookies, and don’t make nearly enough of them!

    The recipe I so wish to recreate are Stella D’oro Swiss Fudge Cookies!!


  3. Spencer on June 15, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Looks absolutely delicious! Almost too good to eat infact.


  4. Laurie on June 15, 2012 at 3:18 am

    here is a chocolate frosting recipe that is pretty good you might try for centers (don’t let the bad pics fool you)
    I love thumbrprints and can’t wait to try these
    :0) Laurie


  5. mireia on June 15, 2012 at 4:36 am

    I have no words!!!


  6. corinne on June 15, 2012 at 6:15 am

    I think I see the Gourmet Cookie Book in one of your photos… I just can’t get along with that book. The way the recipes are written I ALWAYS end up leaving out a step or messing them up some other way. So frustrating!


  7. Jen on June 15, 2012 at 6:17 am

    For years I have been trying to recreate the Giant Eagle thumbprint!! The chocolate ones are delicious, but I also love the regular icing ones. I can’t tell you the number of batches of both cookie and icing that have been inedible! If you ever come across an icing that is similar, post it :)
    In the meantime, can’t wait to try this one, and it’s good to know I’m not alone!


  8. Tanya on June 15, 2012 at 6:41 am

    These are gorgeous! We don’t have these cookies in our area, but I wouldn’t be buying them in an instant! Your version looks so gooood! I’ve loved your recipes this week. Great job!


  9. Katrina on June 15, 2012 at 6:51 am

    These look lovely! Yum!


  10. Rodzilla on June 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I wonder if some of the consistency is due to them using more shelf stable and cheaper oils in place of butter – I like your ingredients better 😉


  11. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on June 15, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Now these are some thumb prints!!! What a great looking cookie!


  12. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on June 15, 2012 at 7:48 am

    As soon as I saw the first photo I thought about Giant Eagle’s thumbprints! Unfortunately I think their secret includes lots of hydrogenated oils.


    • Fran on August 9th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      LOVE the giant Eagle thumbprints! I’m thinking the same. Just made a batch for trial & error for a friends wedding late Sept. Not really impressed. too dry. going back to my Russian teacake recipe I’ve had since the 70’s basically the same but less 1/2 c. flour. but it was worth the try.
      Enjoy ~~ Happy Baking!


  13. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on June 15, 2012 at 7:50 am

    These are so cute! And they look delicious which makes it all the better.


  14. Betsy on June 15, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Look yummy! I make icing for brownies that looks like the icing on the picture or your grocery store cookies. Melt a couple ounces of unsweetened chocolate, half stick of butter. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Alternately add powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup at a time) with milk (tsp at a time), beating well with a spoon. You’ll know when to stop when it’s smooth and glossy.


  15. Lisa from the 'Burgh on June 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

    OK, had to wipe the drool from my keyboard. I am not much of a cookie person (I know, I know…) but these look amazing. They remind me of the thumbprints from the former Kaufmann’s bakery (Macy’s still sells them). Can’t wait to try.


  16. kborner on June 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I am from Pittsburgh and I know about these cookies. You brought to us the Lofthouse cookies and now these!!
    You are my favorite blogger!!! I also just made your sausage cheese stuffed peppers, my family still are talking about them and their deliciousiness!!

    Thanks for all you do, Summer vacation starts for me tonight so looking forward to happy cooking with your blog.


  17. Suzanne on June 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I have a recipe that I have attempted several times. The first time I tried it was at Christmas, and I must admit I had a bit too much wine – however – the desert was absolutely amazing. I hazily remember having to add stuff, because the batter wasn’t what I thought it should be, and now I can’t remember what I did. I have tried several times since to make it again, with disastrous results, either overflowing the pan and making a huge bubbly mess in the oven, or having to cook it for three times as long to get it to hold together….if I could travel back in time, I would’ve written down my initial tipsy modifications. lol It is from one of my favourite TV personalities, Nigella Lawson. If you can get it right, it is absolutely fantastic!


  18. Eileen on June 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Those look insanely delicious. As an avid baker who is always experimenting (like a mad scientist) I’ve had my share of baking defeats. I usually throw the towel in after the first time so I respect your determination! I have issues with cakes that I put booze in. They raise so beautifully in the oven and just before they are done baking they flop on me. Any ideas?


  19. Katie on June 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Your cookies are beautiful and I intend to try them in the near future. Judging from the bakery cookies in the picture provided, the frosting looks like it is more fudge-based to achieve a smoother texture. Have you tried adding whipping cream and melted chocolate to make the frosting?


  20. Kristin on June 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

    These look so good! Have you tried the ones from the Macy’s bakery downtown? They’ve been making them for decades and they are delicious!


  21. Michele (also a brown eyed baker) on June 15, 2012 at 9:27 am

    LOVE those from Giant Eagle as well!!! Their thumbprint cookie base is very tender and reminds me more of a shortbread than the usual thumbrpint cookie. Let’s face it…it’s really all about the frosting on top! YUM! I can’t wait to try them.


  22. Kerry on June 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I had to laugh at the last line of your post. Just last night I was making strawberry jam that boiled over. We had strawberry jam all over the stove, down the front of the oven and the floor surrounding the stove. Somehow, I even managed to get jam in the oven door between the panes of glass … not sure how I’d even go about getting that cleaned.


  23. Abby on June 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

    these are so completely FUN!!


  24. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on June 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Yum! It looks like you did a great job recreating those cookies! My favorite bakery makes the most amazing chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been dying to make them on my own…but I need more baking experience before I’d be ready to tackle that! Probably need to sample the cookies more too, couldn’t hurt :)


  25. Mary Lynn on June 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

    When I saw the title of the post, the first thing I thought of was Giant Eagle! These are my husbands favorite cookie. I agree with you about the “canned icing”. I have been known to steal I bit of icing from his cookie! I’m going to bake these Saturday morning before the heatwave arrives. I’ll let you know the results. P.S. If you ever need taste testers, we are available. Have a great weekend.


  26. Vicki Pieranunzi on June 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

    My favorite version of these cookies dates way back to Fifth Avenue Bakery in NuKen in the sixties. They also made the wafers for communion at m y church and I swear it was the same sweet-tasting dough as the cookie. The piece de
    resistance for theirs, however, was toasted almond slivers around the outside of the dough. Fabulous!


  27. Jenny on June 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I’ve never been able to make White Mountain Frosting from my mother’s vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. :/ A local bakery makes something similar to these and I never did “get it” because I always thought thumbprint cookies were filled with jam. I always wondered if it was their creative way of using up leftover icing because it was usually just dabbed in there instead of piped. These are really pretty though.


  28. Niki Blake on June 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Oh I can’t wait to try these…..these are my favorites!! Yippee! I think I am guilty of pinning almost every one of your recipes! You were even the topic of our latest book club meeting here in Frisco, TX and me and one other girl PIN you all the time….now so will the others as we sang your praises!! :) Thank you for another great recipe!~


  29. Jennifer on June 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

    These are so, so pretty!


  30. Kristy on June 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Oh my gosh, this is divine.


  31. Jenn on June 15, 2012 at 10:32 am

    OH.My.Word… Your cookies are beautiful!! (Much prettier than the store bought ones!) I can’t wait to try them… I know EXACTLY the texture you are describing.. almost melt in your mouth, but soft, but a little crisp?!? Anywhoo… I do have a “fudgy” type frosting that tastes EXACTLY like canned stuff (which I stumbled across accidentally). I don’t use it often because it made me so MAD!! :0P I worked so hard on finding the “Perfect” homemade chocolate frosting and once I made it & topped a cake and cupcakes for a party…. No one believed I made it :( (I am serious it is that close to canned) but it is pretty darn tasty! Let me know if you are interested. And my almost everytime stumped recipe is the perfect white cake/cupcake that is not too “egg-y” (if that makes sense). I just can’t get it right!


    • Dianna on July 13th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      I’m interested in that fudgy type frosting!!! Can you post it?


    • kim on September 10th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      @Jenn : I have been searching for weeks for something.that is home made but tastes just like a canned frosting. Any chance you would be able to post?


  32. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven on June 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

    These are so adorable!!! Love the sprinkles!


  33. Riley on June 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

    These look just like the little thumbprint cookies that I grew up eating! I always loved how they turned to crumbs when you bit into them. I’ll have to try these this weekend!


  34. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on June 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

    These look like they could be seriously addicting!


  35. colleen @ Secrets fromthe Cookie Princess on June 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I saw the picture of these and was immediately taken back to days wandering the Giant Eagle bakery with my dad. I knew that’s what they were before I even saw the title! I love these little guys–the first cookie I go for on a wedding cookie table! Thanks for working so diligently to recreate them. Can’t wait to try them for myself.


  36. sally @ sallys baking addiction on June 15, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Michelle, I am in love with these little thumbprint cookies! Your photography is beautiful. I love recreating storebought cookies. I recently tried to recreate Berger cookies (fround here in Baltimore, MD) – they are ultra rich and super soft vanilla butter cookies with fudge icing – the icing is gooey but doesnt melt.. haha must be some weird chemicals in there but I hope to one day master them on my own. :)


  37. DB-The Foodie Stuntman on June 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Glad you were able to work out something similar…


  38. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on June 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I used to love these type of cookies!! Can’t wait to try out the recipe 😀


  39. Restaurant supply gal on June 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I really appreciate your humor in this post. If anyone has been in the kitchen long enough, they know what it is like to be “stumped” by a recipe. For me, it’s my grandma’s chicken and vegetable soup. I remember how great it tasted when I was a child and I wonder if it was the recipe I miss or just my grandma. Either way, I have a great time trying to get the recipe down.
    Thanks for sharing !


  40. Jessen on June 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

    One thing that Never comes out right for me is Gnocchi, whether it be Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Regular Potato or Spinach/Potato Combo… It always seems to come out dense. I’ve tried food network Chef Recipes, Food blog recipes and it never comes out right. It’s probably just me!! lol


  41. Laura Dembowski on June 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I relate to your post so much. I have been working on some blondies that I know will be awesome, but they are sooooo gooey to the point of being inedible. Attempt 4 is scheduled for next week. It’s nice to know it’s not just me who has colossal kitchen failures sometimes :)


  42. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on June 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    They look so lovely!! And delicious I might add! :)


  43. shawn @ I Wash...You Dry on June 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Oh my gosh, drool! These look so tasty!


  44. Thaïs on June 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    These look fantastic. I’m definitely going to set some time aside to try this recipe out.

    Target’s bakery has these amazing red velvet sandwich cookies that I’ve never been able to replicate. I’ve tried red velvet cookie and sandwich cookie recipes and none of them have lived up to flavor.


  45. Michele on June 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    These look fantastic!


  46. JenHen on June 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    These look awesome and very similar to ones my dad gets a Vons in Central CA. One thing, though, is that the frosting on those is kind of chewy, which makes me think that corn syrup in the icing might be helpful. I wonder if you boiled the butter and some corn syrup together and then added the cocoa and other ingredients if that would help. Just a thought. Great job on these!


  47. The Chocolate Priestess on June 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    The only way to improve would be to make the cookie chocolate, too.


  48. Aly on June 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    In Baltimore we just have regular thumbprint cookies, but they are some of my favorites! I will have to try this and see if I like them better with sprinkles!


  49. Erica on June 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Girl!! Love this! My Fiance’s mom is from Baltimore, home of the famous “Berger Bakery” cookie! These are his absolute FAVORITE cookies! (I thought to myself WTF is a Berger cookie??) Long story short, he had his mom bring us some and WOW! They are a cake like cookie with a heap of chocolate frosting coated on the top. I’m not sure if it’s actually a frosting or a ganache as it sets up pretty solid after a bit. King Arthur Flour had a recipe contest to see who could recreate these and I used the winning recipe to re-create them at home on Wed. night. Then seeing you re-created awesome cookies for your CCC, I dunno gave me warm fuzzies! Love your blog as it always inspires! My fiance loves your photos as he is a photographer! Thanks for the post! Xo


  50. Jess on June 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    So excited to try these – the ‘Iggle ones are my favorites.


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