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]

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121 Responses to “Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies”

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  1. Kelley on December 9, 2013 at 8:24 am

    These look awesome! Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, these have always been a big hit in our house. I am planning on making these for Christmas…using Christmas Sprinkles and green/red buttercream icing. Question….Do they freeze well?
    Thanks so much!


    • Michelle on December 9th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Hi Kelley, I have not frozen these, but I do believe that they would freeze well.


  2. Sarah on December 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Has anyone added an egg or just a yolk to the recipe and if so….what was the result?


  3. Terry Lynne on June 2, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I am a avid baker and bake for every birthday, the birthday person gets whatever cake they want. From my father wanting a lady Baltimore the way my great grandmother made it, didn’t match what I found online. To my younger brother who loves chocolate canned frosting. For years I have tried to duplicate chocolate canned frosting with no luck. He has even asked why don’t I just give in and give him what he wants. His birthday is coming up in two weeks and I am going to try this frosting this weekend. I am praying for luck, just once I would like him to think it came out of a can. :( BTW – I just love your site and your daily emails. Everything I have tired everyone has loved, hoping for success with the frosting.


  4. Pamela on June 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Hi. I just had to add to this. I’m from Pittsburgh and no longer live there, but those cookies were my weakness!! I used your recipe but instead of using 2 tsp of vanilla extract , I used just 1 tsp . Then , 1/2 tsp of almond extract and 1/2 tsp of imitation butter flavor . I also added another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, totaling 1 cup in the recipe. Now they are pretty dead on!! I used rainbow sprinkles instead and didn’t ice mine but that’s just my preference!!


  5. Daphne on June 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I made these yesterday and they are delicious!!! I shared them with friends and have passed on your website so they can make them, also. Thank you for sharing!


  6. Cassie on October 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I made these cookies and they are delicious, my whole family loved them! Although when I was making the icing, the butter, sugar and cocoa didn’t really become smooth it became more like rough sand. I just added the milk then because it was making a huge mess, but the icing still turned out great! Thanks for the recipe. :D


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