One of the things that brings me joy in life is making seasonally themed treats – typically involving baked goods – and Fall is no exception! For the past seven or eight years, I make these Witch’s Finger Cookies just before Halloween. Essentially they’re a sugar cookie topped with an almond. Their slender “finger” shape makes them all too easy to grab and eat. Typically I dye the nails red, but this year I went for green. You could choose any color you want, and I suppose you could also dye the dough, too!
Pretty gross, right? But oh so delicious!
They’re brushed with egg whites, adding a slight sheen and a sweeter flavor. We ran out of blanched almonds, so we had to substitute some peanuts for “nails.” Kinda gross. Perfect!
I made the green batch with a friend of mine on what happened to be an unusually warm fall day here in the Bay. We probably should have refrigerated the dough again after shaping, before baking, but we were too anxious to eat the finished product to wait any longer!
Below is a photo from a previous year with the red nails..I can’t decide which color I like better!
Wondering where to purchase or how to make blanched almonds? It’s easy! Boil a small pot of water, toss in the almonds, and boil them for a few minutes until the skins start to look wrinkled. Drain the water and let the almonds cool slightly in a colander (they get REALLY hot and retain the heat.) Now you can pop the almond out of the skin: I usually hold it from the bottom with one hand, and cup my other hand around it – squeeze the almond gently from the base, and it should pop out of the skin. They tend to pop out quickly, thus the need for the cupped hand.. unless you’d like to send your almond flying across the room. Not that I’ve done that before. *cough.* Ta-da! Blanched almonds.
Here’s the recipe for the cookies, courtesy of Martha Stewart:
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
- 30 blanched almonds
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.
- Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. Using a small paintbrush, color one rounded half of each almond. Set aside to dry.
- Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into 15 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth with palms into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife. Transfer fingers to prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
- When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.
- Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.