Thumbprints for Christmas

It’s close to midnight and I sliding my 40th or so sheet of cookies into the oven. While I typically shun all things mainstream, I am a total sucker for tradition, including baking my mom’s Betty Crocker recipe cookies for Christmas. They’re made with the three basic ingredients that are almost like swear words around my house: butter, sugar, and wheat flour. My digestive system backs up from too much wheat in my diet, CLH doesn’t eat sugar anymore (and has dropped thirty pounds since), and butter is… well, butter is no one’s enemy. Yet.

I make the same cookies every year: chocolate chip, peanut butter, Spritz, Russian Tea Cakes (which my family calls “snowballs”), oatmeal raisin, candy canes, and thumbprints. The thumbprints are a family favorite. But this year, the recipe didn’t quite live up to its former magic.

I’m not sure what the issue was exactly. I’m pretty sure I put in all the ingredients (although, i quadrupled the recipe, and i may have lost count of the cups of flour in there somewhere). The batch should have yielded 12 dozen, or 144 cookies. I got only 113 cookies out of it. I don’t see how I could have lost almost three dozen cookies in that whole mess, but, apparently, I’m not the only one with a missing cookie issue. Thank goodness for the Internet. Who did I bitch to before this thing was invented?

Now, the original recipe I learned to make these cookies with resides on an oil stained, dog eared, high gloss page in the Betty Crocker cookbook, publication circa 1966 or so. It lives in my mom’s house somewhere… though when I called over there years ago to collect the recipe, no one could find the book. It often goes missing and then reappears like some kind of magical prop. Well, since I had no access to the book, I had to look up the recipe online. And there it was at bettycrocker.com. I’ve made them for several years now, and, since I only make them once a year, I forget what a blatant lie the recipe is. The cookies taste great, but the yield measurement is WAY off, AND, the depression you make in each cookie RISES to meet the sides of the cookie so the whole “thumbprint” effect is rendered null and void.

My recipe was printed from the website, and i noticed on my (oil stained, dog eared) sheet of paper that there’s a link that didn’t quite get all the way printed called “Betty’s tips”. Thinking i had missed a critical clue to making these all these years, I headed over to the computer to log back in to Ms. Crocker’s site. No tips to be found, but I did find a really angry (and therefore hilarious to me) review of the recipe posted by another Betty fan. The reviewer said the recipe didn’t work because “There is not enough ingredients”. I couldn’t agree more, reviewer. I might disagree with your grammar, but I totally agree that the tiny bit of flour and sugar they told you to put in the bowl will not, no matter how you slice it, yield three dozen cookies.

I’m a little bleary eyed right now. I’ve filled most of the lidded receptacles in the house with cookies. I even used the salad spinner bowl. Tomorrow, I start crafting the gifts. Better get to bed so I can get up early and do that. You’ve been warned about the thumbprints.