Every year my family can’t wait for the famous Christmas Cookie Exchange. My sons and family bake dozens of thumbprint cookies and give them away, Well, that is after all the tweedles munch on the first batch, and dine on part of the second. I may have one or two cookies, I say rolling my eyes. Not only does my waistline expand this time of year, my clothes shrink.
Look at those lights!
Baking these cookies is a must. My neighbors will graciously accept our donations. Nothing like a cookie to make folks smile.
Family favorite Thumbprint Cookies (Recipe below)
Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue cookies
Thumbprint Cookies: Gail Ingis’s recipe
½ pound butter (2 sticks) or 1 cup Crisco
2 egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag of walnut meal (at Trader Joe’s) or ground walnuts
Mix ingredients (EXCEPT THE EGG WHITE)
Roll into approximately ½” balls then roll into the walnut meal, place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 2 minutes, depress center with thumb, then finish baking approximately 12 minutes for larger cookie or 5-8 minutes for smaller cookie. If you like crispy, bake until edges are slightly browned. When cool, fill depressed center with the icing mixture: a combination of slightly warm water, vegetable food coloring and confectioners sugar to an almost pasty consistency. (Color for holidays if desired).
Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Cooking! Eating!
Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.
My current books to be edited and have cover updates.
We picked a good day to prune our aged cherry tree. Lots of healthy exercise and well worth the work. After we finished the tree we made the cheesecake.
We did a much better job pruning the cherry tree than we did with the cheesecake!
The Cheesecake recipe that I’ve been making for fifty years was the best, I thought.
Then my almost 24-year-old grandson, Matt, began baking. One Thanksgiving, maybe three years ago, when it was dessert time, he pulled his work of art from the refrigerator and set it on the counter in all its glory, as a centerpiece, like a jewel in the crown, surrounded by dirt cake, thumbprint cookies, tiramisu, and Aunt Madeleine’s handmade chocolates.
Working up an appetite before we dig into the cheesecake.
I’ve been baking almost my whole life. I’ve made my share of delicious cheesecakes. Yeah right, my cheesecake is nothing compared to Matt’s. The best I ever tasted. The best. I asked him for the recipe, but alas, he couldn’t tell me, he had made a promise. He said the person who gave him the recipe said that it was an old family secret recipe. A SECRET? Whoever heard of such a thing? And this mysterious person made my Matt promise that he would never reveal the magic ingredients. Imagine that!
“But I’m your Grammy,” I said to Matt. “Surely it would be acceptable to give me the recipe.”
“Nope,” Matt replied. “I’m sorry, Grammy but a promise is a promise.”
A couple of years went by, and I asked Matt again if he would share?
“The person that gave me the recipe has passed away,” he replied. “But nope Grammy, a promise is a promise.”
Well, I resigned myself to my fate. I would never get that recipe. But you know what? Matt impressed me with his solemn vow to the person who gave it to him.
Springform into action!
The other day I FaceTimed with son Rick and Matt was home. I was curious, so I asked Matt what kind of pan he uses to bake his cheesecake.
“Spring-form pan,” he said.
“Oh good, that will be much easier for me than my trusty pie plate.”
I told Matt that I had just made a cheesecake—it was good but the sour cream topping was a little too soft when we ate it five hours later. I refrigerated overnight and it firmed up more to perfect.
I decided to bake another one this week and use my regular two packages of cream cheese but this time I’ll add a cup of sour cream to the mix rather than use it as a topping.”
“That’s what I do,” Matt said.
Aha! He didn’t tell me his recipe, but his agreement got me all excited,
So I tried to guess at his recipe. I tried to solve the cheesecake mystery but unfortunately, I didn’t crack the case! The cheesecake that I took out of the oven collapsed on me. I added the sour cream to the batter instead of smearing it on top. And so it fell in the center and it was also browned the top like a grilled steak. It tasted pretty good but it wasn’t MY usual cheesecake. This is what happens when you try to be a cheesecake sleuth!
My original, trusty, fifty-year recipe is here below for your perusal. Gail’s Cheesecake. I’m not so secretive with my recipes.
Crust for Cream Cheese Cake
This was my attempt at trying to guess at Matt’s cheesecake and as you can see it didn’t turn out right. I had to cover the top with some fresh sour cream. But it’s tasty.
Use 9” pie pan
12 full Graham crackers
3/4 stick of butter, melted
Roll out crackers or use a blender, brush some butter on the pan first
then put the crumbs in the pie plate and add melted butter.
Blend with fork and spread. Then take a smaller pie plate to even out shell
If using for other pies: bake 10 min at 400 degrees
There’s nothing like enjoying a bite of cheesecake with your sweetheart.
Gail’s Cheese Cake
1lb cream cheese (2 packs eight oz each)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
Mix 15 minutes on 1 speed. Add to pie shell & bake 375, for 20 min
½ pint (or 1 cup) sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix 10 min on 1 speed, add to the hot pie. spread on top. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees, Put the pie in the oven for 5 minutes. Let pie cool. Then refrigerate. Do not cut for three hours. Best if the pie is placed in the refrigerator overnight.
No springform pan, all the butter leaked out leaving the graham cracker crust too hard. I still have my good old 8″ pie pan.
Gail Ingis is an artist, interior designer, and published author. Her historical romances Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon.
My current books