Debate-watching Walnut Gingerbread Fingers, Spicy and Crisp
This post is coming to you because reader Lennie recently asked for the caponata recipe from Good Food, a syndicated column I wrote in a former life (from 1976 to 1994). Hadn’t used the recipe in years. Had to go back and look though hard copy. While looking came across a column that’s scarily relevant – and the cookies are delicious.
Excerpted from Goodies to Win or Lose By, Good Food, October 29th, 1980
“ I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.” – Jonathan Swift.
…Watching TV is notorious for inclining one to munch, and there is something about a quadrennial spectacle based simultaneously on inanity and calamity that just about forces the more nervous among us to eat. Something, anything – fingernails even, all else failing. But more often something fattening.
With Gingerfingers , you can have both. (Plus Halloween is coming. Giving homemade treats seems to be out, but kids do have fun making these….)
The trompe l’oeil fingers are fun but of course somewhat time consuming. Nothing wrong with making a few fingers for the fun of the thing, then slicing a few zillion icebox cookies out of the rest of the dough.
For about 80 fingers:
3 ½ c. all-purpose flour
2 generous tsp. ground ginger
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
pinch each nutmeg and dry mustard
3 tbl. Molasses
½ c. butter, cut in 3 or 4 pieces
¼ c. lard or chicken, duck, or bacon fat, or 5 tablespoons more butter
2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. ground walnuts
sliced almonds for decorating
1. Mix the flour with the salt and spices and set aside.
2. Put the honey, molasses, sugar and fats in a kettle or large saucepan and stir over low heat just until the fats melt and mixture is smooth. Don’t let it actually cook. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the soda.
3. Stir in the spiced flour, then work in the walnuts, using your hands if necessary. The dough will be very firm but malleable.
4. Heat the oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and create fingers (see below), keeping them about ½ inch apart. Bake until a bit darker than gold, 12 to 15 minutes or more depending on size. Transfer gently to racks for cooling; they’re soft when they’re hot – as durable as biscotti after they cool.
Pinch off a tablespoon size lump of dough and squeeze it in the crease between your palm and fingers to elongate it into a fat, bumpy rope – or a skinny bumpy torpedo, depending on how you look at it. Place the proto-finger on the paper and fiddle so it’s about 1/3 inch in diameter and 3 or 4 inches long. Blunt one end and leave the other tapered.
Using a fingertip, moisten the narrow ends of the fingers. Apply sliced almonds to be the nails.
This is Mr. Earl – and if there were a basket big enough I’d be curled up in it too.