Keeping the Season Going With Cherry Winks

I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas/Hanukkah. We had a great day and were so happy to watch Merle experience her first Christmas. Even though the days of religious celebration have passed for this year, I like to think the holiday season continues up until New Year's Eve. That probably stems from my unwillingness to let all the buildup to Christmas conclude in a single day, but no matter the reason, I always find ways to extend the season. Today that meant baking cookies that I didn't have time to bake over the past month.

Growing up my mom turned our kitchen into a cookie making factory every December. The ones she couldn't go without making were cherry winks, because they were my grandfather's favorite and she would make a double, and sometimes even a triple batch, to take to my grandparents' house. As a kid I hated them from the first time I tried them, but when I was in college I decided to give them another taste and ever since then they've been my favorite cookie. Cherry winks are everything I look for in a cookie with a soft and fluffy interior studded with nuts, dates, and cherries, and a crunchy exterior coated in cornflakes. We still use the same recipe that my grandmother got from a friend decades ago and printed on a now yellowing index card with her typewriter. Here is the recipe.

Cherry Winks 

Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

4 cups corn flakes
3/4 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts or pecans usually)
1 cup finely chopped dates
1/3 cup chopped Maraschino cherries
15 Maraschino cherries cut in quarters

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Crush corn flakes coarsely and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Measure out the margarine and sugar in a large bowl and beat until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well until combined, stirring in the nuts, dates, and cherries. Shape a level tablespoon on dough into balls and then roll in corn flakes. Place on greased baking sheets and top each cookie with a cherry quarter. Bake about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. 

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