Fran Merkley from Baltimore was looking for a recipe for making coconut macaroons that she thought may have been published in this column around 15 years ago. The cookies were made with flaked coconut and sweetened condensed milk, and could be made in chocolate or vanilla flavors. What stuck with her about the recipe, aside from how delicious the cookies were, was that the woman who sent it in said it was the job of her younger sibling to put the cherry on each cookie.

We searched The Baltimore Sun's archives and located a recipe for chocolate cherry macaroons that appeared in paper in December 1992 in a column called Kids in the Kitchen written by Beth Hillson. Hillson wrote that she had been making these cookies since her childhood and they are a holiday tradition in her family. When her little sister was a toddler, she was given the job of plunking a cherry down on each circle of cookie dough.

"She would squish it right down to the bottom of the dough, then lick her fingers, one at a time, before starting the next cookie," Hillson wrote. "No one had the heart to yell at her. So we baked the cookies and ate them as if the cleanest hands in the world had prepared them."

As Hillson said, these quick, easy and festive cookies are great to make with your kids; even the very young one can get into the act. They are terrific for cookie swaps or holiday gifts, or any time you just want a sweet treat at home.

Requests

Jackie Pitchford from St. Albans, W.Va., is looking or a recipe for Grape Nut pudding (not custard). She said her mother made it frequently in the 1950s and that she cooked it on the stovetop.

Sue Pierce from South Bend, Ind., is looking for a recipe for making elephant ears, like you can get at local fairs. She said her mom loves them and she would like to be able to make them at home for her.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, and The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email baltsunrecipefinder@gmail.com. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.

Chocolate cherry macaroons

Makes: 24 cookies

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 pound sweetened flaked coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

12-14 large maraschino cherries

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Set the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for on high for 1 minute. Stir with a spoon. If there are any lumps remaining, microwave for another minute. Scrape melted chocolate into large bowl. Add condensed milk, coconut, vanilla and salt. Mix with large spoon. Mixture will be very thick and sticky.

Drain cherries and cut each in half. Set aside in small bowl.

Using a paper towel, lightly coat bottoms of cookie sheets with vegetable oil. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over each sheet. Standing over the sink, tilt and gently tap each pan until it's white with flour. Tap loose flour off sheets into sink.

Using tablespoons, drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the cookie sheets. Leave about 1 inch between the cookies. Put a cherry, cut side down, in the center of each cookie.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on the pan, and then use a spatula to remove them.

Store in an airtight container. These may be frozen

Variation: To make vanilla macaroons, replace the chocolate with 1/4 cup flour or potato starch. Bake 10 minutes or just until edges of cookies are golden brown.