Monday, December 13, 2010

Cookie Time - Mamaw's Butter Cookies

I think there is no better time of the year for making cookies than Christmastime.  I remember a Christmas long ago making probably 10 dozen or more cookies with my sister and a friend of our family.  We had every ingredient and decoration imaginable and just spent the whole day making cookies.  It was wonderful!
I hope to start a cookie making tradition with my own family at Christmas.  And in case anyone else is interested in starting their own tradition I'm sharing my family recipe for butter cookies along with a new recipe I found and made last night for hazelnut tea cookies.  I absolutely loved them!

"Mamaw's" butter cookies have been in my family for generations.  Mamaw is the great-great-grandmother I never knew but was named after.  She used to make these cookies at Christmas and gave them to my mother and my aunt.  I can see the wonderful memories on their faces when I make these cookies for family gatherings now.

Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Using a mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and eggs.  Add flour mixture and milk to the creamed mixture.  Combine until it forms a soft dough.  Add the vanilla and stir until fully incorporated.  Drop batter by rounded teaspoon fulls on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 min.  Makes approximately 6 dozen.

I have a handwritten recipe card that my great-grandmother, Nanny as we called her, wrote this recipe down for me in the most beautiful cursive I have ever seen.  They just don't teach kids to write like they used to (and now they aren't going to teach cursive at all!).  Her recipe calls for "oleo" instead of butter and I have it on good authority that she preferred to use Fleischmann's.  This recipe can easily make 6 dozen cookies (if you don't eat much of the batter before you bake them!) and can also be halved to make less.

I recently saw a post from Food Network featuring popular cookie recipes from Christmas' past.  Many of them looked delicious but the one that stood out the most was a powdered sugar delight known as "hazelnut tea cookies."  Here is the recipe from Food Network's webiste:  I started reading the reviews as I often do to see what kinds of things people came across while making this recipe.  A few found these to be too dry and some suggested that their butter wasn't softened long enough.  When I see a recipe for a tea cookie I assume it will be dryer than your average cookie because it's meant to be dunked in or simply eaten with your tea.  I'm ok with that!

The other recommendation that stood out in the reviews was the number of people that substituted walnuts for hazelnuts.  And that's exactly what I did as well.  For one, I have no idea where to buy hazelnuts, and frankly I knew if I did find them they would be more expensive than the walnuts I could buy at the grocery store.  For my first time making this recipe I opted for the easy out.  Walnuts worked great.  It does recommend toasting so I simply put them in a skillet on the stove for a few minutes.  Keep moving them around and turning them however because nuts especially small pieces can burn quite easily!  Remove them from the skillet and let them cool before using.  Also, these cookies are just as good without toasting the nuts.

I didn't take a picture of these because I just put mine in a plastic airtight container instead of the fancy cup they're displayed in on the Food Network website.  However my cookies really do look exactly like that.  I'm looking forward to continuing our Christmastime cookie tradition and trying many new cookie recipes.  Now just to find one with chocolate...

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