Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sugar Cookies from my Grandma

My paternal grandma, Velma, was an amazing cook. Her house had a very distinct home-y smell, almost as if the decades of delicious meals she had prepared had lingered around.   I'm sure you're grandma's house has the same smell.  She passed away when I was eight years old so I was a little young to learn her recipes from her first hand but I am very lucky to have several of her best, in her handwriting, on her recipe cards.  One of my favorites is her sugar cookies.  I can't even tell you the last time I made her sugar cookies which means it was long overdue!  When she would make them, she would roll them into a ball and mash them with a fork covered in sugar but I decided to use cookie cutters.  If you take the easy road, I promise they'll still taste good. As I work my way through my grandma's recipes, I've found several that I've seen in other places (this one included!)- either identical or nearly so- which makes me think that those recipes have made their way around over the years.  I remember looking at her recipe as a little girl and wondering why she put tartar sauce in them.  :)

Sugar Cookies 
2 sticks of butter, softened to room temperature (NOT melted)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda

1. Cream together butter, egg, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
2. Slowly add flour mixture to liquid mixture until JUST combined.  Do not over mix.
3. Press together in a disc shape on wax paper.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight. 
4. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness on floured surface.  (I find it to be a little easier if you break the disk into 4 chunks and roll out each one individually.  Don't worry if the edges seem like they're falling apart.  Keep rolling and the center should stay together.  Don't forget to flour your rolling pin!)  Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters.  If you'd like to leave them plain (without icing) sprinkle white sugar on cookies at this time.  (note: keep cut, unbaked cookies, in the fridge if they're not in the oven.  If you leave them out on the counter and let them reach room temperature, they will bake up all puffy and they''ll lose their shape!  And don't over crowd the pan! I bake 4 at a time so the edges don't touch!)
5. Bake 350 for 8-10 minutes on parchment paper lined cooking sheet.  I'm still learning my gas oven so they're a little uneven.
6. Let cookies cool completely before decorating with royal icing.

Royal Icing
3 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar
Food Coloring

1. In large bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy.
2. Add powdered sugar gradually while mixing on low until mixture is shiny.  Start with 3 cups of powedered sugar and slowly add more to desired thickness.  You don't want it so runny it slides off your cookies. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add food coloring and transfer to piping bag (or a large plastic bag with the end snipped off)
(I prefer Wilton color gel instead of regular food coloring.  You can find it at Hobby Lobby and Michael's.   I used a piping bag with a very small tip.)
4. If your icing is too thick and doesn't spread itself out after you fill in your outline, just use the back of a spoon to gently push it around. 

P.S. I've added a little printer friendly button right down below each blog post so you can print my recipes if you wish to.  If you open each blog post individually by clicking on the post title, they print out easily.  


  1. These look delicious and you did a great job on the icing! I'm most impressed with your photos though. You do such a wonderful job. They have such a vintage, lovely feel.

  2. Your cookies look great! Aren't recipes from grandma's the best? It's great you have her handwritten cards. I also love your pictures. Wish I knew how to make mine looks so great!

  3. these look delicious!

    will definitely have to save this recipe to make soon. thanks for sharing!

  4. Your photos are looking great! And the cookies sound delic.

  5. First of all - your photos are the most adorable things I've ever seen...the styling, the colors, and framing. You are too much!

    And the cookies look adorable and delicious. I'm always so impressed by you gals and your royal icing...I've never attempted it but it looks like it's a lot of work! Maybe one day when I have nothing to do. (insert sarcasm font here)

  6. Oh - and grandma's recipes, handwritten, on her own recipe card?! I would cherish that so much I'd probably have it framed. I have my Papa's barbeque sauce and brunswick stew recipes....but that doesn't really have the same feel to it as sugar cookies. :)

  7. The icing is so adorable, they look so yummy!

  8. Those cookies look delicious. I will have to pin this for later. =) I also love your photos. You are so creative (the baker's twine wrapped around the stack of cookies.) Love it!

  9. Thank you for the printer friendly option. I knew any recipe that started off with two sticks of butter is something I will have to duplicate at home :)

  10. Yum. Sugar cookies are my favorite. I'll be making these for sure!

  11. YUM!! These look delicious! That royal icing looks perfect!
    Thanks for sharing.... We will be making some Valentine's cookies soon!

  12. Beautiful photos! Cant wait to try this recipe.

  13. Sugar cookies should be synonymous with Valentine's Day, especially if they are heart-shaped with pink royal icing! :)

    These cookies look amazing and your photos are gorgeous. I'm planning to bake these up for Valentine's Day. Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe.


  14. gorgeous pictures! these look amazing!!! xo tessa

  15. These look amazing! You have such a talent for blogging (with your photography, design, diction, all of it!) You are the woman I desire to be.

  16. I recently stumbled across your blog and I am in LOVE. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a go-to southern cookbook? Thank you!

  17. Looks like a great recipe and the photos are lovely. You have a real talent for capturing beautiful images.

  18. I need to come visit, Todd and Brian can watch Caden, and we could bake all weekend! Love sugar cookies.

  19. These look so pretty and ideal for Valentines. Will certainly be trying these. From Engagement Rings

  20. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article. Thank you...
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