Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nana's Christmas Cookies

Today was Christmas Cookie Day -- the day we mix up my great-grandmother's sour cream cutout cookie recipe, roll out the dough, cut out the shapes, bake them, then personalize them with frosting. I believe many families follow this same tradition, but for my family, the tradition is rooted in the recipe...

It's not that it's the best cookie recipe in the world. Nor was it created by my great-grandmother or filled with secret ingredients. I searched online a few years ago for an updated sour cream cutout cookie recipe and found plenty.

That said, there are a few things about my recipe worth noting: (1) The cookie itself isn't too sweet, which balances nicely with the frosting; (2) if baked properly, the cookie stays soft and flaky; (3) the cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon extract flavorings give it a subtle, festive, and rather unique flavor.

My kids have come to love Cookie Day as much as I did as a kid. Today, Mia did her best to decorate hers like mine. Will tried to stay in step with his father by creating the goofiest cookies -- or at least by joking about a cookie while he frosted it. And Max spent at least 20 minutes on each of his cookies, creating masterpieces that only he'll eat. I think this is the first day that Tom and I didn't end up frosting the majority of the tray.

Nana's Christmas Cookies
1 C brown sugar
1 C while sugar
1 C shortening
3 eggs
1 C sour cream
1 t lemon extract
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
5-6 C flour

1. Cream together sugars and shortening; add eggs and extract and mix thoroughly; add sour cream and mix thoroughly

2. Whisk together dry ingredients, and add in parts to the creamy mixture. (You may need to add four to achieve a roll-able dough.)

3. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour. Roll out on a floured surface and shape with cookie cutters, adding flour as needed.

4. Bake cookies at 375 degrees until the edges start to brown.

5. Cool, frost, and decorate.


Confession: I broke rank one year and tried a more traditional sugar cookie recipe, but it didn't really work for me -- you just can't mess with tradition. I didn't admit this to my mom or sisters though. Until now.

(410 words)


  1. I used to love decorating Xmas cookies but my kids are still a bit young - I think we'll try next year. How do you make the frosting?

  2. My mom always used boxes of Jiffy frosting mix and food coloring. I can't find that, so I default to cans of vanilla or cream cheese frosting. This year, I also mixed up some Royal Icing, but the kids didn't prefer it.

  3. I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU SHARED IT! Isn't that our little family secret!
    Cookie day is always fun around here. Remember the year we doubled the batch? I think we frosted for 8 hours!