I sat on the kitchen counter with my legs folded like a pretzel while Grandmother scooped flour into a metal bowl. She added salt and baking powder to the flour and then asked if I would like to mix. Of course, I agreed, the whisk already in hand. She creamed butter and sugar together in the avocado green KitchenAid until lemon yellow waves rippled in the bowl. Grandmother cracked several eggs, one at a time, on the edge of the bowl.
Next came the vanilla and then the dry ingredients. The dough was ready to be shaped into bite-sized cookies and bathed in egg then rolled in a fine dusting of walnuts. They went into the oven and halfway through their cooking time, the trays came out and we pressed our thumbs into their heated centers. When they reached a slight golden brown, we let them cool then filled the shallow indentations with green or red icing. We packed the thumbprints in tins along with an assortment of cookies and candies, such as, snowballs, kiefles, buckeyes, peanut brittle, and date pinwheels between layers of parchment paper and wrote the recipient’s name on each tag.
Thumbprints are still my favorite holiday cookie to eat and to make. This year, I added a few new cookies to the mix, a clear break from Grandmother’s tradition and packed them in small recycled boxes wrapped with ribbon. If only the snow would let up long enough for us to deliver them to your door, then we wouldn’t have to sneak one or two when you’re not looking. Until then, maybe you should bake a batch of your own, just in case…
Rolled Sugar Cookies frosted with Lemon Icing (Cookie Cutters: Bear, Owl, Rabbit, and Heart, Recipe from The Joy of Cooking)
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies (Recipe Variation: Use Dark Chocolate instead of Semi-sweet Chocolate)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe from the New York Times, David Leite and Jacques Torres)