21. December 2004 · Comments Off on Mom’s Christmas Butter Cookies · Categories: Domestic, General

Mom’s favorite Christmas cookie recipe came originally from one of those post-war commercial give-away cookbooks which have provided James Lileks with so much materiel for “The Gallery of Regrettable Food” when they attempted to shroud whatever foodstuff they manufactured in as many culinary guises as possible. This particular collection was from Pillsbury, however, and was first worn to tatters (besides being liberally splashed with vanilla, smears of butter and sprinkled with flour, sugar and other substances), then lost for a time— it turned out that my sister had it— and finally lost permanently in the fire last year. But before that happened, Mom had submitted the recipe for the Valley Center Art Association Cookbook; the original book is gone, but the recipe lives on.

Sift together: 2 ½ c. flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt

Cream together with electric mixer:
1 c butter
1 ½ c. powdered sugar

Add: 1 unbeaten egg
1 Tbsp vanilla

When well-blended, add the dry ingredients. This makes the basic cookie dough, which must be chilled before forming, and baked on an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper at 400 deg. The greatest thing about these cookies is the number of variations that can be done with the basic recipe; they can be simply rolled out and cut with shaped cutters… or you can do any of the following:

Snowballs: Stir in 1 ½ c. finely chopped walnuts, chill and then shape into small walnut-sized balls. Bake at 400 deg. For 8-10 minutes, and roll warm cookies in powdered sugar.

Cinnamon Balls: Shape plain chilled dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll in ¼ c. sugar mixed with 2 tsp, cinnamon. Bake at 400 deg. For 5-8 minutes

Chocolate Rolled Cookies: add 2 ounces of unsweetened melted chocolate to basic dough. Chill, roll out and cut into shapes. Spread half of the cookies with a frosting of your choice (Mom always favored peppermint-flavored icing) , and top with remaining cookies to make a sandwich cookie.

Fruit/Nut Balls: Add 1 Tbsp. grated orange peel, 2 Tbsp orange juice, ½ c. mixed candied fruit, and 1 c. chopped nuts. Chill, shape into walnut-sized balls and bake at 400 deg. 5-8 minutes.

Jelly or Chocolate Balls: Form chilled dough into walnut sized balls, and using the end of a wooden spoon push a hole into the top of each one. Fill the indentation with jelly (apricot, currant or raspberry) or melted semi-sweet chocolate. Bake 4-5 minutes.

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