I received an email from Donna, my college roommate, a “blast from the past” as they say. The last time we saw each other was 22 years ago, at the holidays, when we made cookie canes together. Her husband asked her to find me to get the recipe. Now that’s a powerful endorsement–better than a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Two weeks ago, during our podcast, Jeremy, Lauren and I were making and frosting these cookies, but our focus during the podcast was on plum pudding, fruit cake and other adventures, so I neglected to give the recipe as promised.
I asked my mother where she found this recipe, and she thinks it was a 1970’s era Good Housekeeping. The cookies are finished with pink icing, which must be the following recipe: In a mixer add 1/4 cup shortening, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 3 cups powdered sugar. Add 1/4 cup of milk in small amounts as you are mixing to make the right spreading consistency. Tint with red food coloring. This recipe goes on smooth but dries slightly hard so that the cookies can be stored.
The photo here may not make your mouth water. That’s OK. I guarantee that they taste wonderful. It’s a combination of the sour cream, powdered malted milk and walnuts, I think. Powdered malted milk is becoming more rare in stores these days, so I set a permanent reminder on my phone to buy malted milk on November 24 in preparation for the cookie baking in early December. This year, my mom found the malted milk at Safeway and bought several jars to share with all of her daughters. Last year, Susan resorted to ordering it online, when we were desperately calling each other after combing the local stores.
When we were younger, we got a lot of practice rolling out the dough and frosting the cookies. We weren’t allowed to eat them as we were working unless one broke–and breakage took place often. This was not because we were deliberately trying to eat the cookies. They’re difficult to frost straight from the oven. I like to freeze them first before frosting.
This year, like last year and the year before, I tortured Lauren because she did not roll them “correctly.” Actually, in reflection, I don’t know why she keeps coming back when she must suffer under my critical eye. This is a recipe that takes practice–years of practice.
One of my favorite stories happened just a few Decembers ago. My mother had the cookies on the table, and when Jim (my brother) reached for one, mom made some remark about how he couldn’t eat them unless they were the broken ones. With a casual sweep of his arm, he knocked them to the floor. He apologized and handed out the broken pieces to share.