Friday, December 17, 2010


“Your holly and candles were a treat and have served more than once. I have about half of the candles left on the mantel. They are such a pretty red. You do think of the nicest things! I suppose that is what is called ‘having an imagination.’ Well, thanks a lot for everything – the card with its message was doubly appreciated. Ina Dobson to her son, Vance, at Christmas 1935

Frosted sugar or ginger cookies are my favorite traditional Christmas cookie. I always thought I would eventually grow up and Swedish spritz would be my favorite, but no, I still like frosted shapes. I've sought long and hard for the ultimate frosted sugar cookie recipe. Maybe you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe in your files that you would share with me.

Here's the recipe my half-sister, Joni, used to bring it to Christmas baking sessions. You can find it in Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1969.

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Mixed thoroughly butter, confectioners' sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend in flour, soda, and cream of tartar. Cover. Chill 2-3 hours.
Heat oven to 375. Divide dough in half. Roll each half 3/16" thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Cut into shapes. Decorate with colored sugar (or frost after baking). Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes or until lightly brown on edges.

I like to frost my cut-out cookies and decorate simply with red hots, colored sugar, and marshmallows. But Mother and Nina piped the frosting onto the cookies. They spent hours working over those cookies, and they were charming. Well, you know how I feel about all that fuss over something that's gone in two or three bites, but they took a lot of pride in it. KW


Leah said...

Love love love Sugar Cookies. In fact, that's the only cookie I make for Christmas. My recipe goes back to the 1950's from a book whose name I've forgotten. I roll the dough very thick. They are soft even when they have cooled. Of course, I always eat some fresh and warm from the oven. I have a large Xmas tree cutter and cut most of them in this design. I frost them with butter cream frosting colored green. I asked an aunt (who was a knowledgeable cook why my cookies were soft and other peoples were hard. She thought it was because of the milk in my recipe.

Sugar cookies were the only kind my mother made when I was little. In the 1940's, my father made our cookie cutters using tin maybe from pipe tobacco tins.


1 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda

Cream shortening and sugar. Add unbeaten eggs and cream again. Add milk. Sift dry ingredients into bowl. Add flavoring last. Roll out, cut and bake in hot oven, 400°. Cookies roll easier if dough is put in refrigerator for several hours. Makes 5 dozen large cookies.

debdog42 said...

Frosted cut out sugar cookies with butter cream frosting are my all time fav also! I used to make them every year but not for a long time. I have a huge collection of cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes and many are Christmas themed.

Leah said...

Deb: How about hanging your cookie cutters on your Christmas tree as ornaments.

debdog42 said...

Would be cute but we haven't had a Christmas tree in years! Leah I have a chronic illness that greatly limits my day to day life. I've had to give up lots of stuff and at Christmas it's the worse! I miss my baking and candy mnaking.

Leah said...

Oh, Deb, I'm so sorry to hear about your illness. I don't have a tree unless someone comes here for the holidays. My health has been touch and go all year (in bed for about 5 months so far). Went to dinner with a friend last Thursday and said, "I hope I have good health the last 2 weeks of this year." The next day I had a full blown cold that's now in my bronchial tubes. Guess I'll be coughing and sniffeling through Christmas.

I'm sure you wish you could do more, Deb, but because of Kathy's generousity and time spent with her blog, we are all able to reminisce about days long ago. Memories of the past warm our hearts and I hope you are enjoying the time travels.

Hallie said...

Stay tuned for more from Mom! She's away for the weekend doing some on-site research at the farm but there will be a new post soon. :)

Leah, thank you for sharing that recipe! All of these recipes make me wish I had more people to bake for--I rarely bake anything since it's just me and my husband.

Leah said...

Hallie: Hate to tell you this, but the Philly Fudge and Sugar Cookies are the only recipes I ever made for Christmas. And I haven't baked them in years. I always choose quality over quantity. Remember that you can always freeze cookies you bake. Or you could give cookies to neighbors or friends. So just because there are only 2 in your house doesn't mean that you shouldn't bake.

I'm anxious to see the next vintage card from Kathy. I wonder if it will be a Currier & Ives or Victorian design or Norman Rockwell. Her trip down memory lane with cards and recipes has been delightful.