Diane Prather: One of my holiday favorites

"Thumbprint Cookies" look pretty served on a plate with other cookies and candies.

Although they're good anytime, these cookies are a holiday favorite of mine.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Separate one egg yolk from the white, save the yolk for the cookie recipe, and slightly beat the white. Set aside in a shallow bowl.

Also finely chop 3/4 to 1 cup of nuts (your choice). Put these in a shallow dish, too, and set aside.

Then mix 1/2 cup soft shortening (half butter), 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, the egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Make sure it's mixed thoroughly.

Sift together 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir into the creamed mixture.

Measure out dough by the teaspoon and roll into balls. Dip in the egg white and then roll in the nuts. Place the dough balls about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb gently into the center of each. Children love to help with this part.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until set. Cool. Fill the thumbprints with chopped or candied fruit, jelly, or icing. I like jelly the best.

This recipe makes about three-dozen small cookies. I usually make a double batch.

You can also make "Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies" by substituting 1/2 cup granulated sugar for the brown sugar and adding 1 square (about 1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted, to the shortening.

When I have time, I like to make refrigerator cookies that I can cut off and bake as I like. They're great for a fresh and warm snack to serve when visitors drop in for coffee.

To make this "Refrigerator Cookie" recipe, mix 1/2 cup soft shortening (part butter) with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Sift together 1-3/4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt and add to the creamed mixture.

Work the dough into a roll that's about 2 1/2 inches across, or larger if you want bigger cookies. Wrap it in waxed paper and twist the ends. Chill dough until firm. If you want to bake the cookies soon, try putting the dough in the freezer for a little while. The dough has to be firm enough to cut.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, put the dough on a cutting board. Cut into thin slices -- about 1/8 inch thick -- with a sharp knife. Place them a little apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated, 400-degree oven about 8 to

10 minutes, until lightly browned. The recipe makes about five dozen cookies.

Use all or part of the dough. Return the unused part to the refrigerator until next time.

These recipes are from another of my cookbooks that no longer has a cover.

Don't miss next week's column. Samantha Bouwens, of Craig, sent in two scrumptious chocolate recipes just in time for the holidays.

Send your recipes to me at Box 415, Craig, CO 81626 or call me at 824-8809.

Copyright Diane Prather/ 2006. All rights reserved.

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