My Mother’s Christmas Cookies

Cookies 1After 30 years, the Betty Crocker sugar cookie recipe from our very-old grease-covered copy has morphed into my Mom’s own little concoction. They are perfect – so easy, not too sweet, amazing texture and great frosted (or not.)  Since the holidays are all about family, I’m breaking from my normal format to present this recipe in the barely-functional-family way I know. Below is the transcript from the phone call with my mother (and all our mothers) where we try to quickly get a recipe but end up absorbing all the Classic Mom details we never knew we wanted. I will interject as needed because it’s baking and science-y so some level of precision is required.




Me: Hi Mom, would you read me the sugar cookie recipe you always make from the Betty Crocker cookbook?

Mom: Sure, I’ve got it right here! <<Yelling to my stepdad>> Tim, WHY did you close the cookbook!? I had it turned to the cookie page for Justine!… what? The Cookbook!


So it says it makes 2 dozen cookies. I always double it. Sometimes I triple, but not this year. I’ve got too much going on. Anyway, here are the ingredients for the single recipe:

1.5 C Powdered Sugar

1 C Softened Butter

1 Egg

1 t Vanilla

½ t Almond Extract

I always add cinnamon but I know you like them plain so make them however you want.

Properly Forked note: The cinnamon is great, but I wanted to stick with the almondy-goodness this round, so no additions were made.

2 1/2 C Flour

1 t Baking Soda

1 t Cream of Tartar

….but I always do way more than this.

Me: Wait, you do more than 2 teaspoons for a double batch?

Mom: Well, yeessss because I like them a little fluffier.

Me: Ok, well how much do you use?

Mom: At least 3 or 4 teaspoons cream of tartar in a double batch

Me: OK <<makes note to TEST this crazy recipe>>

Properly Forked note: For a single gorgeous batch, we used

1 1/2 t Cream of Tartar

Mom: Mix wet ingredients with powdered sugar. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add into wet ingredients while mixing.

It says to cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. I never do this. I just add more flour and 4x sugar and roll out immediately.

Properly Forked note: In my mom’s house, powdered sugar is called 4x sugar. The problem is that no grocery store in the northeast calls it 4x sugar anymore, so “confectioner’s” or “powdered sugar” is the nomenclature we’ll go with.

Mom: Divide dough in half. Roll out. I like them thick. Maybe a half-inch or more?

Me: Mom – you do not roll them to a half-inch – that is really thick. I’m going to go with quarter-inch.

Mom: Yea, actually that sounds right. Remember, you can combine the scraps of the dough to re-roll, but don’t do it more than once. It gets too dry and won’t bake right. That’s why it’s better to split the dough in half before your start and only work with one chunk at a time.

Cut into desired shapes.

Add to floured cookie sheet. 

Bake at 375 for 7 to 8 minutes until edges are just barely golden.

Me: Thanks, Mom! I’ll let you know how they turn out.

Mom: Hey, is the baby walking yet?

Me: Yes she is! Doing great. But I GOTTA GO, Mom. Love you! Talk to you tomorrow!

Properly Forked note: I ended up with 6 dozen cookies. I will be happy if I don’t consume them all before I can give them away.


For these woodland beauties, I used MixMyTable’s buttercream recipe. This recipe is the most fluffy gorgeous frosting I’ve ever made. (I mean it has CRISCO in it, people! *heart eyes*) For my cookies, I stiffened it up with more powdered sugar, and I substituted the vanilla for almond. I used food coloring too. Then I layered sliced almonds, point up, starting at the top of the oval. I kept layering until I reached the bottom. You can press down just a tad to set the almonds. I brushed on a little lemon juice and dusted with edible bronze glitter. This almond technique was from my sister years ago, but she swore off ever trying it again due to the tedium. I personally found layering tiny bits of almond for no useful reason very therapeutic and meditative even. I won’t judge you if you just smash a bunch of almonds on top and call it a day.


 If you are going to enjoy the holidays, eat as many cookies as you want. Eat the icing right out of the bag, but make sure you are cooking with the HIGHEST quality ingredients you can find. Almost all the ingredients I used here are organic, non-bleached, real deal stuff. We are living in an age where even shortening comes in an organic version. Do the right thing, especially for ingredients you only buy a couple times a year.


These babies are great with just about any topping — buttercream in different colors or royal icing for some fancy decorating. Sometimes, we just top them with colored sugar and candies before they go into the oven. You do not have to get this fancy for them to be delicious, but the almonds and buttercream did create awesome texture to the cookie bite. Have fun with it!

We showed you ours, now show us yours. Tag your sexy sustenance @properlyforked   OR   #properly forked
Recipe tested in Properly Forked kitchen.

Cookies 5.jpg



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