Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Displaced Pittsburghers, and other lovers of the Steel City: this one’s for you.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

When I saw the recipe for Giant Eagle-style chocolate thumbprints on Brown Eyed Baker about two weeks ago, they went straight on my “must bake as soon as humanly possible” list.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Just looking at the photos on her blog made me homesick.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

The grocery chain in Pittsburgh is Giant Eagle (Iggle if you speak Pittsburghese). (And before you scoff at the name of our grocery stores, Wisconsinites, I raise my eyebrows at “Pick n’ Save”–giant eagles might have nothing to do with groceries, but at least it’s more creative than Pick n’ Save. Sheesh, who comes up with these names? The more I think about them, the sillier they sound.)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Anyway… One of my fondest memories growing up is going to the grocery store. Sounds a little odd until you know that every single time we went, my mom would pop us by the bakery counter where the baker would give me a free thumbprint cookie. I remember being jittery with excitement as my mom slowly wheeled the cart through the produce aisles, picked out lettuce and whatnot, then stopped at the meat counter, all in what seemed like slow motion to my seven-year-old brain, waiting not at all patiently for us to finally hit the bakery.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

And then, there we were. A thumbprint. Chocolate or vanilla. I’m not sure what my favorite flavor was, but I do know that I ate my fair share of both. I also know that, being totally indecisive, I probably annoyed my mom on the majority of our grocery trips by being unable to choose between the two. (The really great days were when the baker gave me both, probably to help my mom get on with her shopping.)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

This cookie has a weirdly crunchy but also soft dough (poor description, I know–Brown Eyed Baker’s is better) that pairs well with both the denser, fudgey frosting and the sweet, vanilla icing, which hardens on the top like royal icing but is perfectly oozy when you bite into it. And using different flavored sprinkles gives each cookie a totally different taste, even though you’re using the same dough.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style) Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

And just so you know–unlike in all other parts of the country, thumbprints never have jelly in them. Ew. Just don’t do it. Please, put frosting in there instead.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Also, full confession time: I’m not ashamed to say that when I was home for college breaks and tagging along as my mom did her shopping, I would wander up to the bakery counter even then. If you have ever met me in person, you know that I look about 5 to 10 years younger than I actually am, depending on the amount of makeup or height of heel I’m wearing. So, more often than not, as my sneaky 20-year-old self eyed the cookies, the baker would fork over a free thumbprint, obviously assuming I was 12 years old. I can honestly say that these are the only times in my life that I have ever felt grateful for looking so ridiculously young (and before you mention it, yes, I know I’ll be thrilled when I’m 40 years old and look 25. You don’t need to say it. Seriously. Don’t say it).

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

If we weren’t in a rush and the cake decorators were working at the window, Mom would let me watch as they spooned piles of fluffy frosting onto cakes, twirling the stand rapidly to smooth it out, then piped delicate roses and birthday wishes on top. It all seemed like magic to me–how could they make it look so beautiful so quickly? I’d stand on my tiptoes, mesmerized, until we finally had to go. I could have stayed there all day.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Funny how cookies like this–just from one person’s blog post and countless recipe tests–can make all these great memories come up, isn’t it? Although most cookbook authors introduce their baking chapters with nostalgic memories of baking with family, I never really thought about baking as a particularly memory-laden experience for me, since we didn’t do a whole lot of baking in our kitchen (except perhaps the holidays). But I guess there’s a nostalgia to my grown-up love of baking after all: it just was in the form of Giant Eagle and thumbprint cookies rather than a mixing bowl on my own kitchen counter.

Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies (Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style)

Giant Eagle/Pittsburgh Style Thumbprint Sprinkle Cookies
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

I followed Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe exactly, except that I added a splash of milk to make the cookie dough come together. Make sure you visit her blog as she spent a long time testing out this recipe to get it just right!

Some more notes… Obviously, I split the dough, rolling half in rainbow sprinkles and half in chocolate to make the two different types. Also, below is my recipe I whipped up for the white icing glaze for the rainbow ones. Not quite the perfect recreation, but without all the preservative business that I’m sure is in the “real thing” at Giant Eagle, it’s pretty decent!

White Icing Glaze
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons milk (give or take, to desired thickness)
Tiny pinch salt
1/8 tsp vanilla extract–just a splash, you don’t want it to turn brown
1 tsp butter, melted and cooled

Stir together all ingredients until smooth, then use immediately by dropping a spoonful into each cookie.

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  • Mom

    Having a Mom moment here! Next time you’re home..we bake! And visit the Iggle! You rock, kid…I love you and your blog, both make me happy.

  • Karen

    While eating Cheerios just now, BEB’s thumbprint cookies stormed to my mind so I checked to see if there were any new reviews. I saw yours and clicked through… and am so happy I did! This post and your blog in general are lovely. :o) I hope you have a beautiful, delicious week!

    Hugs and blessings!

  • great8mom

    You make me feel like I’m back in the ‘burg! Thank you for the trip down memory lane. When I was little we also went to a little market, Joes’s Superette up on Greensburg Pike in Forest Hills. Mrs. Joe would always give me two cookies, one for each hand! Now my eldest son is getting married and I’m doing the cookie tables for the reception Pittsburgh style in Virginia! I was looking for more recipes and found you. I’m so excited to make these Thumbprint cookies now! Thank you for sharing!

  • Pingback: Rainbow Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies ~ #OXOGoodCookie! | Juanita's Cocina

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