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"Dorothy Stewart, from Kansas, made these cookies when she took her four daughters on picnics. They got their name because she hugged them to her chest -- and thus changed their shape -- when her girls made her nervous." So proclaims the chuckle-worthy inscription on a recipe card handed over by Lucinda Kolo-Caron, Stewart's granddaughter and wife of King Arthur Flour's Joe Caron.
With that bit of explanation covered, we can now tell you that they're a really yummy sort of snicker doodle/coconut macaroon hybrid that prompted immediate requests for the recipe from many who tasted them here. They'd add a nice celebratory note to any platter of holiday cookies.
1 1/2 cups (9 3/4 ounces) vegetable shortening or 12 ounces butter
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 3/8 cups (14 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 package (7 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
approximately 25 candied red cherries, cut in half.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening or butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Sift the salt, flour and baking soda together into a small bowl and gradually blend them into the egg mixture. Mix in the coconut until it's well-combined.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets; press each drop down slightly to form a roughly round shape. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until they're light golden brown and just firm to the touch. As soon as the hugs come out of the oven, plunk half of a candied cherry (round-side up, of course!) into the center of each cookie and press down gently. Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack. Yield: 4 dozen hugs.
Nutrition information per serving (1 cookie made with butter, 27g): 131 cal, 7.2g fat, 1g protein, 7g complex carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 33mg cholesterol, 96mg sodium, 30mg potassium, 59RE vitamin A, 17mg calcium, 18mg phosphorus.