My grandmother came to the United States from Finland as a little girl. I remember her accent and her eagerness to feed us some homemade treat every time we came to her door.
This is the cut-out cookie recipe she used every Christmas for years, as did my mother, and now I do. Whenever these cookies are baking, it smells like Christmas to us. Here is the original recipe:
Grandmother’s Cut-Out Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups flour
1 cups butter, softened
4 Tbsp. canned milk
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix the dry ingredients.
Cut in the butter.
Add the eggs, milk, almond, & vanilla. And mix well. If the dough is too soft, chill before rolling out.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 300° F for 11-12 minutes for thin cookies.
Of course I can’t just follow a recipe, I have to change things.
I often use some, maybe 1/2 of the total, whole white wheat flour. (You may have noticed that I’m not of the “Hey, it’s supposed to be a treat–nothing healthy in there!” mentality.)
Sometimes when I’m using the recipe for something other than Christmas, like with my music note cookie cutter for a piano recital or one of my number cookie cutters for a birthday, I use lemon extract instead of the almond and vanilla.
I’ve used other things instead of butter. This year I used part butter for flavor and part coconut oil. I found that I can use a little less fat using the coconut oil.
And I never use canned milk any more, I just use what I’ve got in the fridge. Just for convenience. I’m sure my cookies aren’t quite as good as my grandmother’s, but they’re still too good for me to resist way too many.
I’ve learned not to double the recipe, it’s too big to mix.
Another cookie I remember my grandmother making every Christmas are a cookie she called “Goof Balls”. I often refer to them as Snow Ball Cookies because then my family knows what I’m talking about. They are similar to (or maybe exactly the same as) the cookies known as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cookies. Except they taste a lot better than anything out of a package.
I can’t resist them.
There are recipes all over the web (not that I’ve tried any of them), but I include my Grandmother’s tried and true recipe here because it makes it easier for me (and my kids, as they are starting to leave home) to find them online! Purely selfish.
Snow Ball Cookies/Goof Balls
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour (sifted)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup finely chopped almonds or walnuts
1 Tbsp. milk, if needed
Mix all ingredients and chill (if necessary). Roll into little balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.
Cook at 350° F for 12-15 minutes. They won’t (shouldn’t) brown, so don’t wait for them to.
While they are still warm, roll each one in a bowl of powdered sugar.
I use 100% whole wheat flour with these and I still think they are divine. And I stopped sifting. I just can’t tell the difference, though I’ve got a sifter if you want to borrow one. Always looking for ways to save a little time during this season.
I smell Christmas…