Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Hope My Grandma is Proud of Me…

because for only the second time in my life, I made her Christmas cookies. At least I think they are Christmas cookies. Maybe when my dad was growing up they were whenever cookies, but when I was a kid they were reserved for Christmastime only.

These cookies have a hint of orange, and a hint of lemon. They are kind of like a scone, but kind of not. They are not too sweet, but just sweet enough. They are like nothing that I have ever had anywhere (except maybe a relative’s house, but that doesn’t count—same recipe). Unique and delicious.

Once you see the recipe, you’ll understand why this is only the second time that I have made them. It’s a big recipe. And it makes a lot of cookies. A lot. Twenty-five dozen or so. It’s not like I can crank these out after Molly gets home from school for an afternoon snack. Nope. These take awhile.

But they are worth it.

Here’s the recipe. In case you want to make them. I even took pictures. Big surprise.

Here’s what you need to get started:IMG_0360

First Step

    • 5 pounds flour
    • 2 1/2 pounds sugar (almost 6 cups)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 2 pounds Crisco                                     (Crisco? Yuck, I know. But trust me, your heart will be fine.)

Mix these ingredients together in a large container. My Grandma used a big turkey roasting pan. I don’t have one that big so I got creative.Yes, that is a big Rubbermaid container. Trust me, you’ll need something that big. 

You have to mix this all together with your hands, which really grosses me out, squishing the Crisco through my fingers and all, but you have to do it. Just wash your hands first. IMG_0363

When you are done it will look like this: IMG_0366

Second Step

Add 6 heaping Tbs. of baking powder and mix again. Use your hands, they are already messy anyway. IMG_0368

Third Step

In a separate bowl, mix the following:

  • grated peel from 3 oranges
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 6 Tbs. vanilla
  • 1/2 C milk  


Fourth Step

Make a well in the flour mixture and add the egg mixture.

Guess what you need to do again? Mix it with your hands. IMG_0372This time is even more gross because it’s wet and sticky, but it’s all part of the process.

It will be worth it in the end. Promise.

After you have kneaded the dough for a while it will look like this:IMG_0374

At this point it is important that you have your dough inspected by this little cutie! If he is not available, you may substitute your own little cutie. IMG_0375IMG_0377IMG_0379

You have to let the dough sit for an hour or so. Not sure why, but Grandma said so in her recipe and you don’t want to mess with Grandma.

Take this time to prepare your counters. You will need a lot of room for cookies to cool and be decorated. Grandma used to cover  the counters and kitchen table with aluminum foil, so that’s what I do, too. IMG_0380

Now that the dough has rested, it’s time to shape the cookies. Grandma was so good that she could just grab the correct amount of dough and shape the cookies to a uniform size. I am not. I use this large cookie scoop. IMG_0381

There are three basic shapes. The first one is the “S” shape. Get a ball of dough, roll it into a snake (yes, with your hands again) and shape it into an “S.” Fill an entire sheet, leaving room for them to spread. IMG_0382

The next shape is an “O.” Do the same as for the S-shape, but make an O-shape instead. Duh. IMG_0383

The final shape is the bar. Get a scoop of dough and form it into a rectangular-ish bar. I know that flattening the scoop of dough into a circle would be easier, but make a bar. IMG_0384

Could you do other shapes? Ummm….no. That’s not the way it’s done. If you want to tempt fate, you go right ahead and make other shapes. But I’m not. It just wouldn’t be right.

Now it’s time to bake.

Bake cookies at 400 degrees for 3-4 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, then move the pan to the top shelf and bake for another 3-4 minutes.

They come out looking like this: IMG_0386They are not suppose to brown, so don’t over bake. IMG_0388IMG_0389

I start my baking with one tray on the bottom rack. After 3 minutes, that tray moves to the top rack and a new pan goes in the bottom. Another 3 minutes and top pan comes out, bottom pan goes to the top rack and new pan goes in on the bottom rack.

You then have 3 minutes to transfer the baked cookies to the foil, cool they tray quickly under water and and shape another tray or dough before the timer goes off. IMG_0391

Baked tray comes out--bottom tray goes to top--new tray goes in—empty /cool /refill tray. Repeat. A lot. This is marathon cookie making, folks. 

Once you are done, your counter will look like this: IMG_0399 And this:IMG_0400Yum!  But we’re not done. Time to glaze and decorate.

For the glaze, you will need to mix:

  • the juice from 4 lemons (or the equivalent in bottled lemon juice)
  • 32 oz. bag of powdered sugarIMG_0406

To decorate you will need :

  • nonpareil sprinkles
  • candied cherries
  • chopped walnutsIMG_0408

I use a pastry brush to glaze about 6 cookies at a time. Once glazed immediately place sprinkles/cherries/walnuts on top of glaze. IMG_0413

This must be done in the following combination:

  • S-shaped cookies get nonpareil sprinkles
  • O-shaped cookies get candied cherries
  • Bar-shaped cookies get walnuts

I mean you could go and get crazy and mix it up, but my Grandma is watching from heaven. Just sayin’.

After oh, about 6 hours (if you are working solo), this is what you will end up with….Double Yum! IMG_0415IMG_0421

Here is a little shot of me showing off my baking skills. Which are limited. And in case you are wondering, no, we did not eat 25 dozen cookies. Although we could have. IMG_0422

Half of the cookies were sent to my parents in Colorado. My dad has fond memories of eating these when he was a little boy. My mom has fond memories (or maybe nightmares) about making these cookies with my grandma year after year after year after year.

I knew they would enjoy a big box of cookies (which cost me more to mail than it did to purchase all of the ingredients). And they did. And probably will for the next couple of weeks since they have 13 dozen.


I would like to say that I am making this my new holiday tradition, but golly, I don’t know if I have that much motivation.

But we had them this year and they were de-lish. Dad even gave me a big stamp of approval….said they were spot-on perfect! Just like his mother’s. And that made it worth every second minute hour it took to make them.

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