Cookies from an Angel

I’ve been invited to submit a recipe to Leonard Lopate’s Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap. I love Leonard’s radio program, so it was a thrill to get the email from his staff asking that I submit a recipe and help spread the word about the swap.

Picking a recipe was easy – Angel Fingers. When I was little, my Grandma made Angel Fingers at Christmas, along with shaped sugar cookies and a wonderful, crisp brown cookie she called a “Sand Tart”. I loved them all, but I only have the Angel Fingers recipe, handwritten by Grandma on an index card that is becoming increasingly yellowed with age.

My dad’s mom was a one of a kind. Never afraid to speak her mind, she was famous for such lines as “You have such lovely teeth! Are they your own?” and to her parish priest “If I’d known you when you were younger, you’d never have made it to the Cemetery.”(She of course meant to say Seminary.)

My Grandma loved her garden, her little bird, her crossword puzzles and the Phillies. And she could stand on her head even in her early 60’s, a skill she demonstrated to us during sleepovers at her house after we did her nightly calisthenics with her.

Grandma held a much less strict view on Catholicism than my parents, who insisted we attend church every single Sunday while I was growing up. And so I will never forget that Sunday morning when I came downstairs after spending the night and Grandma told me we were skipping Mass that day.

“God is in the birds, the trees and the flowers”, she said, spreading her arms out toward her garden. “We don’t need to go into a building to be with him.” So we sat on her porch that beautiful sunny morning looking at the garden, listening to the birds and reading the funnies.

I don’t go to church anymore now, having lost organized religion long ago. But I never lost my Grandma’s religion. I still believe that God is in the flowers, the trees and the birds.

And he’s also in these little cookies – cookies from my Grandma, who taught me to see holiness in the world around me.

Angel Fingers

Submit your favorite holiday cookie recipe by December 6, along with the reason why the recipe is special. Then tune in to WNYC on December 11 and listen to Leonard and Ruth Reichl talk cookies.

7 Responses to Cookies from an Angel

  1. Those look *great*.

    I love nut crescents / angel fingers / etc. Since I give a lot of these as gifts, I try to keep the sugar layer looking fluffy, and I found the best idea ever – non-melting sugar. It’s like the stuff bakeries use on powdered sugar donuts – Snow White is the brand I use. You can get it from cake decorating shops, the King Arthur Flour catalogue and Sweet Celebrations.

    It’s just sugar coated with lecithin. I usually add in a touch of vanilla powder for some flavor.


  2. Shaped into miniature crescents, it’s the same recipe as my mother’s Vanille Kipfel (German; she was born in Austria.) Also with many warm family memories.

  3. Wonderful family story and recipe! How nice for you to be asked to submit it! Wish you could pass the plate (I have my cup of coffee):)

  4. Looks like these are popular, my grandmother and mother and now my sister make these also shaped into cresents with almonds.

  5. I LOVE angel fingers…i’m actually making them right now! I got the recipe from my mom…of course when i make them, i think they look for like angel poop…haha.

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