In August, Gladys Paine of Hermon wrote to say that she used to make Cherry Winks for her children and would like to have the recipe again. Just as she thought, it was a Pillsbury Bake-off recipe that called for crushed cornflakes and was topped with one quarter of a maraschino cherry. Twelve of you had the recipe handy and sent it along.
Kerry Zimmerman sent a photocopy of a page in the “Pillsbury’s Best 1000 Recipes, Best of the Bake-Off Collection” cookbook. “This was my mother’s book,” Kerry wrote, “The pictures on the front cover are definitely from the ’50s.” Diana in Dedham used to work for Pillsbury and got her Bake-off recipes cookbook several years ago; she said, “The pics are priceless and most of the recipes are pretty good.”
It is tricky using some of these recipes. Lots of the Bake-off recipes relied on a commercial product later reformulated or eliminated from the product line, so the recipes are useless now. For Christmas my mom used to make a Bake-off recipe called Starlight Mint Surprise cookies. The chocolate mint candy that was hidden inside each cookie is no longer made so we can’t make the cookie exactly as I remember it, though my sister Sally substitutes chocolate mint chips, and it comes close.
Cherry Winks were the invention of Junior First Prize Winner Ruth Derousseau of Rice Lake, Wis. Wanda Wright in Southwest Harbor recalls eating them before 1954 and said her mom used to make them at Christmas. “She put half a cherry on each cookie in both red and green, saying that one-quarter of a cherry was certainly cheap.” Jean Wright of Ellsworth remembers eating a Cherry Wink in 1952 when a neighbor treated her to her first one. Carol Patterson in Springvale recalls her mom, Dorothy Speed, making them, too, when Carol was growing up in Atkinson. “My dad, Phillip Speed, worked at the Derby Car Shops. He carried his lunch and she made lots of cookies for him.” Lois Farr in Dover-Foxcroft made the cookies for her children, particularly for school functions.
Ruth Derousseau’s original recipe called for dates and pecans. Sandy Gates from East Orland and Jacqui Flood in Veazie sent along classic Cherry Wink recipes, and in Appleton Jan DeMuth had a recipe. Ruth Thurston in Machias and Barbara Leeman of Brewer, who found her recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens book, sent versions calling for crushed wheat flakes instead of cornflakes and walnuts instead of pecans. Then Sherry Ryan in Bancroft found a variation called Fun Filled Dainties from a Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs booklet that calls for rolling dough in crushed flakes and filling a dent in the top with jam, jelly, gumdrops, chocolate kisses or maraschino cherries.
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Yields 5 dozen cookies.
2¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter or shortening
2 unbeaten eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
¤ cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
2½ cups corn flakes, crushed coarsely
15 maraschino cherries quartered
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream sugar and shortening together, beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients. Fold in chopped pecans, dates and the ¤ cup cherries. If the dough is very sticky, chill it before handling it.
Drop rounded spoonfuls into the crushed cornflakes, and coat, forming dough into balls. Set on greased cookie sheet and top with a quarter of a cherry. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.