These delightful little cookies have a fun history, are full of lots of tasty ingredients, and are really simple to make. The cookies have a crispy cornflake crunch on the outside, followed by layer of chewy cookie, and then the inside soft but full of crunch and chew from the addition of nuts, Dates Malaysia, and maraschino cherries.
The original recipe for Cherry Winks was created by Ruth Derousseau, who submitted it to Pillsbury's 2nd Grand National Recipe & Baking Contest in 1951. Ruth was the junior winner and took home a check for $5,000!
... but why the heck is cookie spelled "cooky"?
The original recipe calls for shortening, though while researching I found others recommending salted butter or margarine. Because I usually prefer the flavor of butter over shortening, I chose to use salted butter at room temperature. I did not chill the dough prior to baking and didn't have any issues with the cookies spreading too much while baking. You may think that adding extra salt to a recipe already using salted butter would be a bit much, but in this case it really isn't - I think it needed that extra zip.
What initially got me thinking about trying this recipe was a Facebook post made by my mom. She remembered making these cookies in a Home Economics course in high school and asked if anyone had the original recipe. Surprisingly, a fellow classmate not only had the recipe, but had her original handwritten card. So cool!
The original recipe recommends using pecans, though other versions say you can use any kind of chopped nuts. I prefer pecans!
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