The cherry on top: Thumbprints with walnuts and maraschino cherries


This is my 100th post here. My, my… time flies. And so many cookies went along for the ride.

Speaking of taking a ride, I read recently that some auto dealership in the United States is giving away free AK-47 assault rifles with every truck purchase. The real cherry on top would be if the gun were already in a gun rack mounted in the new truck (but this would not comply with the law). Um, yeah. Only in America…

Among the many cookies I baked last weekend, brown sugar thumbprints are some of the “standards” on which I grew up. My mother always made them for Christmas (and never any other time of year). When I recently “taught” (if you could call 20+ people running around a small kitchen in what can only be described as a state of chaos as “teaching”) a baking course at work, this is one of the recipes we made. It is a simple recipe but allows for a lot of customization when you go for rolling the dough in different things (coconut, nuts, sprinkles, etc.) and putting what you want in the thumbprint (various jams or a maraschino cherry). The traditional way in my household was what I went for here — chopped walnuts and half a maraschino cherry on top. The literal cherry on top.

THUMBPRINTS (this recipe makes a very small amount of dough; I always double it and sometimes quadruple it)
Preheat oven to 350°F

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional — you can use sprinkles or whatever you want to roll the dough in)
halved maraschino cherries OR jam

Mix together all ingredients except egg white, nuts, cherries. Chill. Shape 1 inch balls. Roll balls in egg whites, nuts and press cherry into top. Or make a thumbprint and fill with jam. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Baked goods: Witch finger cookies


Finger-like cookies that creep everyone out (though it does not stop people from eating them).

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
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”.

(With the leftover dough and jam, I was able to make some “normal” cookies. To make these, simply roll teaspoons of dough into a ball and make a thumbprint in the center. Fill the thumbprint with a tiny amount of jam. The cookies do puff up/spread a bit; too much jam will make a big mess when the cookie spreads. See this variation below.)