When Davenport's New Hope Presbyterian Church began sponsoring a cookie walk several years ago, member Karen Bartel knew she couldn't make just an ordinary chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie.

To sell well at the event where cookies and candies are sold by the pound as a fundraiser, "you've got to find a specialty cookie," she said.

Bartel remembered a cookie her aunt used to make and, leafing through her cookbooks, found the recipe she was looking for in her Better Homes & Gardens book: Chocolate Pecan Caramel Thumbprint Cookies.

Thus began Bartel's tradition of making about 12 dozen, or about 144, of these cookies for the Newcomb event. The chocolate, pecan-covered cookies topped with caramel and drizzled chocolate are "always the first to go," she said.

To make the cookies, she: Mixes the dough. Chills the dough. Forms the dough into balls. Rolls the balls in beaten egg white. Rolls the balls in ground pecans. Puts the balls on a pan. Pushes her thumb into the center of the balls to flatten the dough and create a space for what comes next.

While the cookies are baking, she melts caramel squares, getting them "hot but not too hot," and then drops the caramel into the thumbprint on the cooled cookies. The final step is to melt chocolate chips and drizzle it off a fork, making crisscross designs on the top. 

This is the critical part. "The chocolate has to be just right to drizzle off the fork," she said. She always adds a little butter-flavored Crisco to give it a good consistency. And she adds a little cream to her caramels when melting them.

"It's time-consuming," she said, with a bit of understatement.

This year's Cookie Walk at New Hope Presbyterian is over, but if you'd like to try making a few of these cookies yourself, you'll find the recipe on Page XX.

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