We’ve been playing around with this recipe for thumbprint paleo cookies and came up with a heart-shaped spin on it too. Aren’t they cute?! If you are looking for a little baking project to do with your kids for Valentine’s or anytime you’re feeling the love, this is a fun one! We made these live on Instagram with Kelly Leveque which was so much fun, and her followers loved them too.
The filling for the cookies is a quick chia jam which is surprisingly easy to make. It’s a great alternative to store bought jams which usually are full of added sugar. Even the jams that say “no added sugar” or “fruit-sweetened” usually have either low calorie sweeteners or fruit juice concentrates in them. As we explain in Sugarproof, fruit juice concentrates are high in fructose which is not ideal, especially for growing kids.
We came up with a few variations on the ingredients to suit different needs. This recipe is paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and nut-free (if you use the coconut flour). If you are looking for a recipe for Valentines that can be totally plant-based, check out our Raspberry and Hemp Heart Frozen Yogurt Bark which tastes great with coconut milk yogurt.
The dough for these cookies is sweetened with dried mango, which gives them a great flavor as well as additional fiber and other nutrients such as vitamin C and folate. We wouldn’t recommend snacking on dried mango alone because it has concentrated amounts of naturally-occurring sugar in it, but it works nicely as a sweetener when distributed into the dough. To get it to blend evenly, we soak in boiling water for 10 minutes and then drain it well.
The time when the mango soaks is perfect for making the chia jam. All you do is slice a cup of strawberries, put them in a saucepan, add a squeeze of lime juice, and gently warm them while mashing them into a chunky sauce. Frozen strawberries work well for this too, as do raspberries or blueberries (fresh or frozen). We usually find the fruit tastes sweet enough on it’s own, especially if the berries are ripe. But if you taste the mashed fruit and feel it’s too tart, add a bit of honey or maple syrup. Then turn off the heat, stir in a tablespoon of chia seeds, and allow the jam to cool for about 5 minutes. The chia seeds help it to thicken and as a bonus they add extra fiber as well.
The next step is to put the drained mango in the food processor and blend it with the butter (or ghee or coconut oil). Then add in an egg, vanilla extract, and lime zest, and blend again until smooth. Finally add in the coconut flour and cassava flour along with a little sea salt and blend once more until the mixture collects into a ball.
Then take the dough and roll it into balls slightly larger than an inch in diameter, making around 15 to 18. Use your thumb to create an indent in each cookie and fill the indents with the chia jam. Sprinkle each cookie with a little lime zest and they are ready to bake!
To give these some extra love, try making heart shaped imprints using your thumb (or a small spoon). Press twice, going diagonally in a criss-cross pattern and the top of your thumb will form the top curves of the heart.
A few notes on substitutions and variations:
We listed some other options for different flours that you can substitute as well. You can use almond flour instead of coconut flour in this recipe. The dough will be stickier and slightly harder to work with, but the result is still good and some of our taste testers said they even preferred this version. Rolling the dough with slightly damp hands helps when making the almond flour variation. Also if you don’t have cassava flour, you can use all-purpose flour (regular or gluten free) instead. Blending in either cassava or all-purpose flour helps to lighten the texture of the dough a bit as coconut flour is very dense.
These also come out delicious with jam made from raspberries or blueberries. Here is a raspberry version I made that came out great.
Also, if you don’t want to make the chia jam, you can simply top each cookie with a slice of fresh strawberry before baking, pressing it in lightly to anchor it in place. Or, simply skip the strawberry and flatten the dough into a disk and make “plain” mango lime cookies. My kids really love this “plain” option — it’s a great little cookie on it’s own.
Mango Lime Thumbprints with Strawberry Chia Jam
(No added sugar, paleo-friendly, gluten-free)
Makes about 15-16 cookies
–1 cup (100g) dried, unsweetened mango pieces
–1/3 cup (76g) butter or ghee (can substitute ¼ cup coconut oil)
–1 tsp vanilla extract
–Zest of 1 unwaxed lime
–1/2 cup (55g) coconut flour (can substitute 2 ½ cups almond flour)
–1/4 cup (30g) cassava flour (can substitute all-purpose flour, regular or gluten-free)
–1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Strawberry Chia Jam:*
-1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced (or substitute whole raspberries or blueberries)
-Squeeze of fresh lime juice (about 1 teaspoon)
-1 Tablespoon chia seeds
*Note: this makes about double the amount of jam that you need, but I find it easier to make in this quantity. I save the rest for other uses, but you could just make half if you don’t want leftovers.
–Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
–Zest the lime and set the zest aside.
–Put the dried mango in a small bowl and cover it with boiling water. Allow to soak for 10 minutes, pour it into a strainer, and allow to drain well.
–Meanwhile make the chia jam: put the strawberries (or other berries) in a small saucepan, cut the lime that you already zested, and add a squeeze of the lime juice to the pan. Gently warm the strawberries while mashing them with a potato masher or fork until they have released their juices and the mixture looks like a chunky sauce. Taste it and if it is too tart for your liking, you can add a touch of honey or maple syrup. Turn off the heat, stir in the chia seeds until well-incorporated, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. The jam will thicken as it cools.
–Now make the cookie dough: put the drained mango in a food processor and add the butter or ghee. Process these together on high speed until creamy, then add the egg, vanilla, and 2/3 of the lime zest and blend again until smooth. (Reserve the rest of the lime zest to top the cookies.) Add the salt, coconut flour, and cassava flour and process until a dough forms and starts to collect into a ball.
–Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Form the dough into round balls a bit larger than 1 inch in diameter, making about 15 to 16. You may find the dough to be sticky if you use almond flour. Try working with slightly dampened hands if needed. Flatten each ball into a thick disk and then use your thumb to create an imprint in each. For a heart-shaped effect, make two imprints going diagonally in a criss-cross fashion so the top of your thumb creates the two top curves of the heart. If the edges of the cookie crack while you are making the imprints, don’t worry as you can smooth this out afterwards.
–Fill each of the imprints with chia jam. (Or alternatively just top each with a slice of strawberry, gently pressing it in to anchor it. Or leave them plain for a simple mango lime cookie.)
–Bake for about 14-15 minutes until golden brown around the edges.
NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING (1 Cookie):
CALORIES 92 TOTAL FAT 5g PROTEIN 2g TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 10g DIETARY FIBER 2g TOTAL SUGARS 4g ADDED SUGARS 0g