Friday, December 26, 2008

my mom's christmas cookies.


Merry Christmas! We're still alive, haha. And still snowed in, if you can believe it. Summer managed to make it to California, but my unplowed hill has kept me from driving anywhere for days and days. It's a miracle we managed to make it out yesterday (with lots of cursing, pushing, and shoveling) to get to my parents' house for Christmas, but I'm not trying to go anywhere else until this ice has melted. My little Subaru with no chains is no match for ARCTIC BLAST '08®!!!!


I've never really understood why some people guard their family recipes so closely- the crotchety grandmas who won't give up the recipe for whatever awesome noodle casserole, or so-and-so's aunt who makes the best pound cake ever but won't tell anyone what the secret ingredient is. Is that kind of exclusivity really necessary when it comes to food? Maybe it's because I've grown up on the internet, where every kind of information possible is free and easy to find. So that whole, "secret recipe" attitude has never made any sense to me. I'm happy to share! I'll make recipe cards for all my friends! When I find something delicious, the last thing I want to do is keep it to myself. That said, I still asked my mom if it was okay for me to print this recipe here. Thankfully, she approved.

In my mind, these cookies are like the UBER CHRISTMAS COOKIE- the platonic cookie, in other words- THE PERFECT COOKIE. The Christmas cookie which puts all others to shame, the Christmas cookie that Santa Claus wants. That doesn't mean this recipe is the end-all of Christmas cookies, or even that they're the best cookies I've ever had. It just means that I have a treasure trove of warm fuzzy Christmas memories of rolling out and cutting these cookies with my mom, every year since I can remember. It simply ISN'T CHRISTMAS without them. And now, happily, I have a copy of the recipe to tuck into my own little box so I can do the same thing with my son. Awww, but enough waxing poetic about the holidays.

When I called to ask my mom for the recipe, she told me that her written recipe was titled "Aunt Debbie's Butter-butter cookies." I said, "Does that mean they have twice as much butter?" No- they don't. We don't know why they're called that, but WHY NOT?

Aunt Debbie's Butter-butter cookies.

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. softened butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. (more or less) milk

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg). In another large bowl, cream sugar into butter. Add egg and stir, then begin to stir in the dry mix, 1/4 at at time. Halfway through adding dry ingredients, add the tablespoon of milk. Continue to add dry ingredients until fully incorporated. If dough is too dry, sprinkle in a little more milk. Dough will be very thick and shouldn't be sticky. Form into a large ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour or two (though we always just do it overnight).

Preheat oven to 350ºf, and remove dough from refrigerator. Roll out to about 1/4 of an inch thick and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the bottoms just begin to brown but cookies remain very lightly colored. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet, then let them finish cooling on a plate or tray until it's time to decorate. (We always let them cool on brown paper grocery bags, just because it's handy.)

Pipe or spread on your favorite frosting (honestly, I prefer the vanilla stuff from a can. I know.) and sprinkle with decorator's sugar or sprinkles.


Serve with a glass of milk and a Bing Crosby Christmas album. Try not to eat the whole plate.


Mary Beth said...

Those cookies do look delicious, but what I really must make immediately are those lovely tissue paper flowers. Can you possibly share the link? (I'm just assuming there is a tutorial for them?) Thanks.

Alicia Carrier said...

i just kind of went for it when i made those flowers. i had some pink tissue paper, i folded it up and cut out little stacks of flower shapes, and then glued them together using a glue stick. i alternated the placement so the petals would look more natural and then after they were all dry i just hot-glued them to a branch. it was really easy!

linb54 said...

I believe this recipe comes from the Betty Crocker "Cookie book" and that's the name of them...Aunt Debbie's Sugar cookies???

Alicia Carrier said...

I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Betty Crocker recipe- but that's funny, because I just thought my mom was talking about MY Aunt Debbie!

Mary Beth said...

Thank you, Alicia, you rock.

Soon, Then said...

Oh those look divine. Those are the kind of cookies I try at every bakery in town to try and decide which place makes the best ones. I'm still not satisfied with the results, so I will definitely need to make these sometime to test em out. Thanks for sharing!

Edith said...

Those look amazing! I ended up using my Aunt Google's sugar cookie recipe this Christmas but if I had had this recipe two weeks ago - I so would have made these!

Heather said...

mmm. that bing crosby christmas album sounds delicious :)

asides said...

Man I wish I had those problems. Georgia is having the hottest winter I can remember with 70s and 80s all month. We have had three days of icy weather so far, lol. I cannot wait to try the recipe, love your blog.

Jesse said...

Isn't that funny about the guarded ingredients? Sometimes I think the secret ingredient is just that it came from someone you love and it's something you always expect when you see them. That's good enough for me! These sound yummy with the nutmeg!

ReminisceHeirlooms said...

I agree. I am all about sharing the merriment. Share the recipe. My mother always leaves out someathing when she shares one, lol. The cookies look sooo tempting. Nice post.

prosttothehost said...

Do these cookies keep? How long before they are no longer soft? I want to take them on a trip, but unsure how long they will keep. I am looking for a soft sugar cookie recipe and hope this is it. Thanks!

moyroyandpooh said...

these do look yummy! you think i can sprinkle some sugar on them directly before baking? like you did for the shortbread heart cookies?