Yeah, really - we went there! You will need to set aside some time to make these as there are a couple chilling steps and it takes a minute or two per finger (and you'll be making about 38!) to shape them. The not-too-sweet dough only called for vanilla to pump up the flavoring, but I happen to dig a slight almond-y note in the background with these types of butter cookies - a quarter teaspoon of almond extract was just about right, but feel free to leave it aside if you prefer.
If you can, only work with 5 or 6 pieces of the firm, yet creamy all-butter chilled dough at a time, keeping the rest wrapped up in the icebox. This makes it a snap to work with, keeping the dough from becoming too warm as it sits around while you pass the time forming many finger cookies. It may become a little redundant, but take a seat, turn up some music or have your favorite TV show on and create lots of severed digits!
With all the manhandling of the dough, I do recommend setting the assembled fingers in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so before baking - not only does this allow you to wait to start preheating the oven until you are ready, it will also help them retain most of their shape. Sometimes all-butter doughs tend to spread more than you'd like, especially if they've been at room temperature for awhile. If you give them those extra minutes to firm back up first, they will puff up and out some, which is what you want to help fill out the fingers, but the cookies won't stray far from the intended shape as much as if you were to bake them while soft.
Want to up the stakes on these cookies? Think about brushing some red food coloring on the almond "fingernails" or take red gel icing and pipe it around those sickly blonde nails. I also thought about taking some of the smaller broken almonds and sticking them out of the opposite side of the nails, creating a broken bone-like appearance. Perfect with the blood, no? However, we decided against that for now (Jeff thought that might be taking them too far... hee hee!) and will save the idea for another time!
Severed Finger Cookies