In the middle of the rush to get ready for the holidays, my friend Rebecca stopped by my apartment armed with two shopping bags full of ingredients. As I wrapped presents she worked on these Cherry Blinks for her colleagues at the private school on Beacon Hill where she teaches.
Cherry Winks aren't a part of my Christmas memory index, but they do bring to mind Christmases of times past when our family Christmas tree was festooned with wildly blinking colored lights. (I'm partial to the calmer, classic white lights now.) The unnaturally bright red and green of the maraschino cherry toppers fit right in with all that sparkles and glows this season.
When I finally stretched out in a chair my cat Cricket climbed into my lap and started purring loudly as if to say, “Stay here for awhile,” as the apartment filled with the warmth of baking cookies.
Faster than a wink of an eye, Rebecca handed me a mug of peppermint tea and a plate of warm Cherry Blinks. She changed things up a bit from the traditional recipe, using pecans and dried dates. Crunchy and sweet with their festive cherries, these would make a delicious addition to any Christmas cookie platter.
1-3/4 cups cereal (Wheaties, Special K, or cornflakes)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
About 36 candied or maraschino cherries (red and green)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Crush cereal; set aside.
In large bowl, mix sugar, shortening, milk, vanilla and egg. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in dates and pecans.
Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into crushed cereal; roll gently until completely coated. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press cherry into each cookie.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
[Editor's note: The original version of this blog post referred to these cookies as "Cherry Blinks." But then a kind reader wrote to inform us of the true recipe title and shared a history of "Cherry Winks" that we found interesting enough to share: "That recipe has a long history. Ruth Derousseau of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, entered it into the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest of 1950 as Cherry Winks and won the Junior First Prize. I think pecans and dates were actually part of the original recipe."]