Ham and Gruyere thumbprints

My mum and aunt, my aunt especially, are always asking me to find new recipes that they can prepare ahead of time and freeze. The latest request was for an easy, tasty recipe that could be served before a dinner or lunch party. I flicked through a few of my many recipe books but didn’t find what I was really looking for, even though I didn’t really know. So I turned to Google and who should fulfill my wish but the queen of parties herself – Martha Stewart. This recipe ticked all the boxes and passed the flavour test. It’s also relatively economical to make so pleases my Simple Savings self.

The ingredients

The ingredients are quite simple. I usually have some ham and Swiss cheese (Gruyere) in the fridge for sandwiches so I had everything on hand.

Boil butter, water and salt

Start by bringing the butter, water and salt to a boil in a saucepan.

Stirring in the flour

Add the flour to the pot and stirring vigorously, cook it over medium heat until a very thin film forms on the bottom of the pot. It should take about 2 minutes.

Ready to come off the heat

Here’s what it looks like when it’s cooked.

Add eggs

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and leave it to cool for a few minutes then add the eggs one at a time. I was paranoid about adding eggs to hot mixture for fear of them scrambling but no need to worry. Just make sure you totally incorporate each egg before adding the next one and use a wooden spoon.

Ham, cheese and pepper

When all the eggs are in, add the grated cheese, ham and pepper and stir them through until just combined.

Baking round one

The recipe says to use a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle to pipe the batter onto the oven tray. I’m all out of piping bags after my macaron disasters so I just used a teaspoon and scooped the batter onto the trays then shaped them a little bit with my fingers. Make a large indent in the middle of each one. Bake them for 25 to 30 minutes at 180C fan-forced or until they start to brown.

The shells are ready

If you are going to freeze the shells to use later, freeze them in a container lined with freezer or baking paper. If you’re eating them straight away, place a cheese cube in the middle of each one and return the tray to the oven for about 10 minutes or until all the cheese has melted.

After baking round two

Let them cool slightly on the tray then transfer them to a serving plate. Enjoy!

Ham and gruyere thumbprints

Ham and Gruyere thumbprints

Ham and Gruyere thumbprints

Yield: 36-48 depending on the size


  • 125g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup plain (AP) flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or ground Black Forest ham (60g) - I used regular honey ham
  • 1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese, plus 36 cubes (2cm) for centers (240g) - I used Swiss cheese and grated it myself - my batch made about 4 dozen so you will need extra cheese cubes


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place the butter, water and salt in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the flour to the pan and stirring vigorously, cook over medium heat until it comes away from the sides and forms a very thin film on the bottom of the pan. It takes about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove the batter to a large bowl and leave it to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the eggs one at a time making sure that each is totally incorporated before you add the next one.
  5. Stir the ham, cheese and pepper into the batter.
  6. Use a piping bag fitted with a large start nozzle or just use a teaspoon to make blobs of dough on the baking trays. If you use a spoon, shape the blobs a little using your fingertips. Again using your fingertips, make a large well in the middle of each one.
  7. Bake them for 25-30 minutes or until they start to brown.
  8. Freeze at this stage or fill each hole with a cheese cube and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  9. Serve warm from the oven.


To prepare them from frozen - allow to defrost on a cooling rack then continue from adding the cheese cubes.

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