Heavenly Deposits

**WARNING: Sentimental Overload**

My family has many traditions aside from those reminiscent of a Hank Williams Jr.’s song. My favorite family traditions are, of course, the edible kind, and nothing says edible tradition like Christmas. This cookie recipe is usually made only at Christmas or for special occasions, such as showers—bridal and baby to be exact. Lately, I’ve hosted a fair amount of these types of showers. As my sometimes perceptive roommate Matt says, “You need to stop having friends who get married and have babies.” However, the most recent shower was for my brother and sister-in-law who are having a baby girl, and I cannot wait to begin my role as the crazy auntie. Though they have yet to decide on a name, I’ve decided that regardless of their name choice, I’m going to call her Charlie. For no reason other than I think it’s cute and endearing.

For Charlie’s shower, I made these cookies, which have about as many aliases as my grandmother. My grandmother was a lady in every respect of the word, and by a fluke of coincidence, most of my cousins called her Lady. Alas, my brother couldn’t quite pronounce “Lady” and just got the “d” sound, which transpired into our name for her, Dee Dee.

Dee Dee actually taught me to make these cookies, and a couple weeks before Christmas every year, I would go over to her house and bake batches of these and a variety of other treats for the holiday festivities. But no matter what types of cookies we made, these were always the favorite, and the tin canisters filled with them were always the first to empty. The only thing left behind was a light dusting of powdered sugar, which is one of the reasons why my grandmother referred to these cookies as Angel Fingers. The other reason was for their narrow, curved crescent shape, much like a finger. Other family members called them Lady Fingers, but much to the disapproval of my grandmother, my dad and uncle called them Angel Turds because of their slightly turdish disposition.

During one of our pre-Christmas baking endeavors, Dee Dee and I were preparing the treats, and she gave me the task of labeling the tins. I drew pictures of the treats with their respective names written beneath on label stickers. However, I had a vision as I was labeling the Angel Fingers/Lady Fingers/Wedding Cookies/Angel Turds *snickers* and wrote “Heavenly Deposits” onto the label. Dee Dee actually approved the terminology, finding it much more acceptable, and we shared a good laugh.

Here’s the thing about my grandmother that I loved, she was always seen as a stern, sharp-witted lady who held her own, but as I grew older and I suppose she did as well, I discovered we actually shared a similar humor. I’d come a long way from being “meaner than a junk yard dog,” which was what she told her neighbor about me when I was the ripe-disgruntled age of five. By the time I was a ripe-disgruntled teenager, I acted the same way around her as I did with my friends, meaning that I acted a bit nutty, which didn’t seem to faze her. She even humored my Louis Armstrong impersonation although she also expressed some worry that I may strain my vocal chords by singing in such a deep, raspy voice.

That's me, "meaner than a junk yard dog," in my grandmother's lap.

After my grandmother passed away, my cousin Ginny and I were chatting, and she asked, “Did you think you were Lady’s favorite?” I shrugged my shoulders, but in my head was thinking—Of course, I was her favorite. She even called me The Princess. Ginny went on to say, “Well, I always thought I was, and that’s what I loved about her. We each thought we were the favorite grandchild. She made every one of us feel special.”

She was right. My grandmother had a way of making each grandchild feel like they held a special part of her heart, which I believe to be a real sensation. So if one day I become a crazy grandmother, I hope I can bestow upon my grandchildren that exact feeling of being—the one, the favorite, the princess. Heavenly Deposits seems like a rightful name for these cookies now more than ever, because it does seem as though a little piece of heaven rains down on me when I’m making them. It’s as if Dee Dee comes down to take a short visit with me, and if I’m really quiet, I can almost feel her strong, slender hands guiding mine through the dough.

A candid depiction of my early years--I'm the Indian Princess, and, yes, that is a trash can on my brother’s head.

SIDENOTE: No mixers or other electronic devices are needed to make these cookies. It’s way more fun to cream the butter and sugar using your hands. First, though, you should break up the butter using a fork. Fork it, if you will. Then get your hands dirty. I mix the dough into one giant ball, and then pinch off pieces to shape into crescents. These cookies are best a week after you make them, so they are perfect to make ahead of time and store, using waxed paper or aluminum foil to separate layers, in a tightly sealed container. Also, don’t forget to label the container whatever name choice tickles your family’s fancy.

This blog is brought to you by—Kleenex, the comforting scent of bar soap, and fond memories of the late and GREAT Mary Sowell Hegler (also known as Mama by her three sons—the pharmacist, the preacher, and the dentist, Lady by a majority of the grandchildren, Dee Dee by my brother and I, Mrs. Hegler by the students she taught in her 30 years of teaching, and Mother Mary by her loving husband.

Heavenly Deposits

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 stick margarine, at room temperature

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, margarine, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix until everything comes together and a dough is formed. Add nuts and mix until evenly distributed.
  3. Shape into 1-inch crescents and place on greased baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown around edges.
  4. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Yield: approximately 4 dozen (depending on the size of the cookies)
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6 Comments »

  1. Lindsay said

    Sweet post, Marie! I love your writing and can’t wait to give these heavenly deposits a shot.

    PS- Only you would name your brother’s baby Charlie and stick with it. Funny how no matter what they name her now, I’ll think of her as baby Charlie.

  2. Ginny said

    Marie – this is one of my most favorite things ever – this post. You said it all just perfectly. I hope that you will come over and make some Heavenly Deposits in our kitchen one day soon. We have so much to be grateful for. Love, Ginny

  3. Jessica said

    Aw- I love this! My momma still uses the “meaner than a junk yard dog phrase” to date. Everytime I hear “Leroy Brown”, I think of you and Dee Dee. In fact I insisted to Gareth that it be played at some point during our wedding reception- but now I know why I’ve always loved it- I had forgotten. I love you and enjoyed reading this so much! I may make some Angel Turds myself before long- of course I prefer the vulgar terminology 🙂

  4. Rob said

    This is the first “blob” I’ve ever actually read (due to my distrust of computers)…and you made me cry! I miss Dee Dee, but everytime you cook, I know she right here with us! If you don’t every make it as a chef, you’ll be a great writer. See you soon!

  5. Brene said

    Marie,
    Love the post! It’s very endearing. I especially enjoy the trash can picture!! 🙂 Baby “Nameless” or “Namefull” (whichever way you want to look at it) is very lucky to have you as her aunt!! We love you dearly!

  6. Anna said

    Marie,
    I love this post about Lady and her wonderful “lady fingers”. Thank you for sharing!
    Love,
    Anna

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