How to Make Kaufman Cookies: The Ultimate Guide

Hello, Good News! If you are looking for a delicious and easy recipe for chocolate chip cookies, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will show you how to make Kaufman cookies, the famous thumbprint cookies that originated from Kaufmann’s department store in Pittsburgh, PA.

Kaufman cookies are soft and chewy shortbread cookies that are topped with a generous amount of frosting. They come in various flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, cherry, and more. They are perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a holiday, a birthday, or just a sweet treat. You can make them at home with simple ingredients and enjoy them with your family and friends.

What are Kaufman Cookies?

Kaufman cookies are named after Kaufmann’s, a department store that was founded in 1877 in downtown Pittsburgh. Kaufmann’s was known for its retail products, as well as its food offerings, such as the Arcade Bakery and the Tic Toc restaurant. The Arcade Bakery was famous for its thumbprint cookies, which were created by Kevin Ulrich in the 1980s. Ulrich had the freedom to experiment with different flavors and combinations, and he came up with over 60 varieties of thumbprint cookies that were sold at the bakery.

The thumbprint cookies were a hit among Pittsburghers and visitors alike. They were soft and buttery, with a slight crunch from the sprinkles or nuts that coated them. They had a thumbprint indentation in the center, which was filled with a thick layer of frosting. The frosting matched the color of the sprinkles or nuts, creating a festive and appealing look. The most popular flavors were chocolate and vanilla, but there were also other options, such as peppermint, lemon, coconut, caramel, and more.

What Makes Kaufman Cookies Different from Other Thumbprint Cookies?

Thumbprint cookies are a type of cookie that have a depression in the middle that is usually filled with jam, chocolate, or nuts. They are believed to have originated in Sweden or Poland, and they are popular in many European countries. Thumbprint cookies are also known as bird’s nest cookies, jam drops, or Polish tea cakes.

Kaufman cookies are a variation of thumbprint cookies that have a distinctive texture and appearance. They are made with cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, which gives them a lighter and softer crumb. They are also rolled in sprinkles or chopped nuts before baking, which adds some crunch and color to the cookies. The most noticeable difference is the amount of frosting that is used to fill the thumbprints. Kaufman cookies have about two inches of frosting on top of each cookie, which is much more than the typical thumbprint cookie. The frosting is also denser and creamier than the usual glaze or icing.

Why are Kaufman Cookies So Popular?

Kaufman cookies are popular because they are delicious, nostalgic, and versatile. They are delicious because they combine the best of both worlds: a tender and buttery cookie base with a rich and sweet frosting topping. They are nostalgic because they remind many people of their childhood memories of visiting Kaufmann’s department store and buying their favorite thumbprint cookies from the Arcade Bakery. They are versatile because they can be customized with different flavors and decorations to suit any taste or occasion.

Kaufman cookies are also popular because they are easy to make at home. You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients to make them. You just need some basic pantry staples, such as butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips. You can also use any kind of sprinkles or nuts that you like to coat the cookies. For the frosting, you can use store-bought or homemade frosting in any flavor that you prefer.

How to Make Kaufman Cookies: Step by Step Instructions

Making Kaufman cookies is not difficult at all. You just need to follow these simple steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together one cup of salted butter (softened), one cup of white sugar, and one cup of light brown sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add two teaspoons of vanilla extract and two large eggs and beat well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together three cups of cake flour, one teaspoon of baking soda, half a teaspoon of baking powder, and one teaspoon of sea salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  6. Stir in two cups of chocolate chips (or any other mix-ins that you like).
  7. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and roll it into balls. Then roll the balls in sprinkles or chopped nuts of your choice.
  8. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, leaving some space between them. Press your thumb or the back of a spoon into the center of each ball to make a well.
  9. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges.
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Fill the wells of the cookies with frosting of your choice. You can use a piping bag, a ziplock bag with a corner cut off, or a spoon to do this.
  12. Enjoy your Kaufman cookies or store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

Kaufman Cookies Nutrition Facts and Tips

Kaufman cookies are delicious, but they are also high in calories, fat, and sugar. One Kaufman cookie has about 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and 17 grams of sugar. Therefore, you should enjoy them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

Here are some tips to make your Kaufman cookies healthier and more satisfying:

  • Use unsalted butter instead of salted butter to reduce the sodium content.
  • Use organic cane sugar or coconut sugar instead of white sugar to add some nutrients and flavor.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free flour instead of cake flour to increase the fiber and protein content.
  • Use dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips to get some antioxidants and lower the sugar content.
  • Use natural sprinkles or nuts that are free of artificial colors and flavors.
  • Use low-fat or vegan frosting instead of regular frosting to cut down on the fat and calories.
  • Add some dried fruits, seeds, or spices to the cookie dough or the frosting to boost the flavor and nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kaufman Cookies

What are some variations of Kaufman cookies?

You can make many variations of Kaufman cookies by changing the mix-ins, the coating, and the frosting. Here are some examples:

  • Peanut butter chip cookies: Use peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips in the cookie dough, roll the balls in chopped peanuts, and fill the wells with peanut butter frosting.
  • Lemon poppy seed cookies: Add some lemon zest and poppy seeds to the cookie dough, roll the balls in granulated sugar, and fill the wells with lemon glaze.
  • Coconut macadamia nut cookies: Add some shredded coconut and chopped macadamia nuts to the cookie dough, roll the balls in more coconut, and fill the wells with white chocolate ganache.
  • Caramel apple cookies: Add some diced dried apples and cinnamon to the cookie dough, roll the balls in chopped walnuts, and fill the wells with caramel sauce.
  • Oreo cookies: Use white chocolate chips instead of chocolate chips in the cookie dough, roll the balls in crushed Oreo cookies, and fill the wells with cream cheese frosting.

How do you store Kaufman cookies?

You can store Kaufman cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. You can also freeze them for up to three months. To freeze them, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Then transfer them to a freezer bag or container and label them with the date. To thaw them, let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

How do you reheat Kaufman cookies?

You can reheat Kaufman cookies in the microwave or in the oven. To microwave them, place one or two cookies on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 10 to 15 seconds or until warm. To oven-bake them, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 300°F for 5 to 10 minutes or until warm.

Can you make Kaufman cookies without eggs?

Yes, you can make Kaufman cookies without eggs by using an egg substitute. You can use one of these options for each egg:

  • A quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • A quarter cup of mashed banana
  • A quarter cup of plain yogurt
  • A tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with three tablespoons of water
  • A commercial egg replacer following the package directions

Can you make Kaufman cookies vegan?

Yes, you can make Kaufman cookies vegan by using vegan alternatives for the butter, eggs, and frosting. You can use one of these options for the butter:

  • Half a cup of coconut oil
  • Half a cup of vegan butter or margarine
  • Half a cup of vegetable shortening

You can use one of the egg substitutes mentioned above, or you can use a quarter cup of silken tofu blended with a tablespoon of water. For the frosting, you can use one of these options:

  • A cup of powdered sugar mixed with two tablespoons of plant-based milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A cup of vegan chocolate chips melted with a quarter cup of coconut cream
  • A cup of vegan cream cheese softened and whipped with a quarter cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract

Can you make Kaufman cookies gluten-free?

Yes, you can make Kaufman cookies gluten-free by using gluten-free flour instead of cake flour. You can use one of these options for the gluten-free flour:

  • A gluten-free all-purpose flour blend following the package directions
  • A mix of almond flour and oat flour in a 1:1 ratio
  • A mix of rice flour and cornstarch in a 2:1 ratio

You may need to adjust the amount of liquid or leavening agents depending on the type of gluten-free flour you use. You should also check the labels of the other ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free.


Kaufman cookies are a delicious and easy way to enjoy chocolate chip cookies with a twist. They are soft and chewy shortbread cookies that are topped with a generous amount of frosting. They come in various flavors and colors, and you can customize them to your liking. You can make them at home with simple ingredients and have fun decorating them.

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to make Kaufman cookies. If you did, please share it with your friends and family. Also, don’t forget to check out our other articles on baking, cooking, and more. Thank you for reading and happy baking!

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