Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar of Xmas Memories 12/8

Prompt for December 8 -
Christmas Cookies -

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

My mother made a lot of Christmas cookies when we were growing up. I'm sure I helped - somehow. I had/have three favorites that I still make today:

The ones pictured at the top (photo adapted from Mary Jane Watson) are known by a number of names: Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowballs. We always called them Pecan Puffs. Obviously we always made them with pecans (something I can pick up from under the trees where I live), but I've seen recipes with walnuts. The recipes are all basically the same:
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 4 tablespoons powdered (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup ground pecans (or walnuts)
Mix. Roll in balls. Bake 40 minutes in 250-degree oven. While warm, roll in powdered sugar.

Another favorite was Lemon Bars. These are very easy. They're also pretty common. A few years ago, somebody won the "delicious" category in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Cookie Challenge with an almost-identical recipe to the one following. Hmmph.

Mix 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Cut in 1 cup butter with pastry blender until it clings together like pie crust. Press into the bottom of a greased 13" x 9" pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Beat 4 eggs, add 2 cups granulated sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Sift in 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Pour over the baked crust (which does not need to be cooled) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. When cooled, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and cut into bars.

The last favorite is one I call "Chocolate Swirls." It uses unsweetened chocolate, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon, so they aren't super-sweet. The dough is chilled, hand-rolled into "snakes," and then coiled into a circle and sprinkled with granulated sugar. They take the longest to prepare but bake the fastest (10 minutes).

I don't remember making traditional cut-out sugar cookies and frosting them as a child, but I did do that with my son a few times when he was little. However, now he's not much into sweets, and my husband and I don't really need the calories. I probably wouldn't make cookies at all if it wasn't for my husband's grandchildren. The youngest, Luke, LOVES the lemon bars, and his dad, Mike, likes the pecan puffs. A bunch of my Christmas/winter tins are still at their house from the last time I made them some, for Luke's fourth birthday in February.

(This is post 8 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by A variation of this post was originally published December 8, 2009. Slight modifications were made this year.)

© Amanda Pape - 2010


  1. These are just too good to pass up. I think I'm going to be making more cookies this year than I originally planned....

  2. Hi Amanda, My mom made the first cookie you mentioned, but called them Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, too. I’ve awarded you the Ancestor Approved Award! Go here

    to collect your icon and display in the side bar of your blog.


    Joy B