By Elisa Taylor
Each year when I was growing up, my mother always made the same three kinds of cookies for Christmas: There were the “angels’ thumbprints,” which I found boring, and the Russian tea cakes, all dry and crumbly, whose appeal I never understood (until I was an adult).
But then there were the roll-out sugar cookies. My mom got the recipe from a friend in 1967. She used her old stand mixer to make the dough, and we’d sneak little chunks of it while it chilled in the fridge – heaven!
We would roll the dough out on a pastry cloth and cut our Christmas shapes with a battered collection of cookie cutters. After the cookies were baked and cooled, we’d decorate them with frosting -- always from a can, spooned into bowls and tinted with four colors plus white.
Oh, they were delicious –- so thin and crisp when fresh, and after sitting around a few days under the frosting they got all soft and tender.
There were a few years after my brothers and I grew up and moved out when the sugar cookies didn’t get made. I missed them, though, so after that if my mom wasn’t planning on making them, I’d come over and make a batch myself so we could have them around. I knew one year I’d make them with my own kids. But then one year, the recipe card disappeared.
I didn’t think it would be a big deal –- everybody makes sugar cookies, and I’d find the recipe somewhere. I tried a few from my cookbooks, but none of them were right. I trolled my friends for their favorite sugar cookie recipes, but none of them were right, either! How did we ever manage to not get the recipe written down in more than one place?
After several years, a happy phone call from my mom: While packing to move from my childhood home to retire out on the coast, the recipe card slipped out from the pages of a cook book. I haven’t missed a year baking them since.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. butter
¾ cup sugar
2 T. cream or milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 400°F. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Cream butter, and gradually add the sugar. Stir in egg, cream, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mix well. Chill dough if necessary. Roll 1/8” thick and cut dough into shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 5-8 minutes. Serve and enjoy!