You know, I really was not in the mood to make witch finger cookies this year. I had been baking all day – had already made the shortbread-like dough for rolling out and shaping into these “fingers”, but the labor that goes into standing there, rolling them, making sure they are thin enough that they do not look giant (the dough puffs up a lot), that the little slits I cut into them are placed so that they look like a reasonable facsimile of knuckles, and so on … makes these (possibly) more trouble than they are worth.
Even so, what other cookies can so easily horrify people? It’s a tradition now – I have to make these every Halloween, or it’s just not Halloween! Granted, I cannot say I was completely successful this year – a colleague told me that they looked like something entirely different to him upon first glance (something more phallic and not work-friendly). Decide for yourself.
Witch finger cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds
raspberry jam, deseeded
In bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients together, then add to wet and stir thoroughly. Cover and chill (from 30 minutes to overnight).
Working with one quarter of the dough at a time and keeping remainder refrigerated, roll a scant tablespoon of dough into a thin snake-like shape (4 or so inches long). Create knuckle shapes and cut slashes where you form the knuckles. Press almond firmly into the end of the cookie to form nail shape, remove almond and fill with a dot of jam, then replace the almond. They should be thin and gangly because they will puff up when baking.
Put cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden. Let cool for a few minutes.
You can also make slashes in the finger and fill them with “blood”.