Cooking with Bourbon (IE Cheesy Thumbprint Cookies with Bourbon Jam)

With all this bourbon talk around my blog, Lynn keeps looking for recipes that use bourbon. She found a fantastic recipe for “Savory Cheesy Thumbprint Cookies.” We were going to the Hollywood Bowl to see the LA Philharmonic and Chicago on July 3rd (Yes, that rock group we all listened to for years!).


Lynn made these as a appetizer for our pre-concert picnic. WOW these are amazing. Lynn has made cheese pretzels for our annual Kentucky Derby Party for as long as i can remember. Well these have made the list for next year’s party (is it time to retire cheese pretzels??), and just about any time we need a quick, easy, delicious appetizer.

When you first bite into them you taste the sweetness of the tomato jam kicked up with just enough spice from the bourbon. The cheese cookies are crispy with a subtle corn flavor that adds to the surprise as to how delicious, savory and perfect for any party.

The recipe is from The Flavor Bender. They have a fun website with the tagline, Flavor Bender “Because it’s OK to play with your food.”

These Cookies are perfect for a picnic or a formal party. We tried them with bourbon (of course), wine, and champagne. They work with all of them and hold them in under intense scrutiny. There were 85 at the picnic we attended and everyone was raving about them.


Cheesy Thumbprint Cookies with Bourbon Tomato Jam


8oz / 225g unsalted butter, softened
3.5oz / 100g white cheddar cheese, grated
3.5oz / 100g monterey jack cheese, grated
1 deseeded jalapeno, finely chopped
1 large rosemary sprig, leaves only, finely chopped
½ tsp kosher salt
0.9oz / 25g white sugar
1 small egg
6.7oz / 190g AP flour
5.3oz / 150g semolina

Bourbon and Tomato Jam
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
5.3oz / 150g sugar
5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Up to 1 tbsp chilli flakes/crushed red pepper (optional – but recommended)
1 large clove of garlic minced (about 1 tsp minced garlic)
2 oz diced white/yellow sweet onion
A pinch of cumin
½ tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp bourbon


  1. Chop the grated cheese roughly and mix it with the rosemary and jalapeno. Alternatively, you can grate the cheese using your food processor, and add the deseeded jalapeno and rosemary leaves, and process finely. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place the softened the butter, sugar and salt and cream it together using a whisk/spatula or wooden spoon. Add the cheese-herb mix and mix it through using a spatula or wooden spoon.
  3. Add the egg and mix it in until well incorporated in the dough.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and semolina together. Add this in two batches to the butter-cheese mix and mix it to form a dough. You may need to use your hands (well-floured) to bring the dough together. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes until the oven has preheated.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line two cookie trays with parchment paper.
  6. Make 1 ½ inch round dough balls and place them on the cookie tray with about 2 inches of space between each (about 14 cookies per tray).
  7. Create a deep well/imprint in each dough ball using a moistened thumb/finger.
    Fill each well generously with bourbon tomato jam (recipe below).
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Switch the position of the two trays in your oven half way through baking (please see note). The cookies should be golden on the bottom and light-golden on top.
  9. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly. Serve.

Bourbon Tomato Jam

  1. Mix all the ingredients except for the bourbon in a saucepan. Bring the mix to a boil on medium-heat, while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the mix has come to a boil, increase the heat to keep it at a boil.
  2. Let the mixture boil while stirring and gently crushing the tomatoes with a spoon as they soften. After about 5 minutes of cooking time, add the bourbon and mix through.
  3. The mixture should keep cooking until the liquid has become syrupy and thick. The time depends on the heat of your stove, and how much liquid is present in the tomatoes. The end product will resemble preserves with tomato pieces in it.
    These can be stored in mason jars until needed (makes enough for 1 ½ batches of these cookies).

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