Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Holiday Cookies


Cookies hot off the press

Blade staffers share some of their best Christmas recipes

  • anise

    Anise cookies from staff writer Vanessa McCray


  • BettyBowen

    Betty Bowen


We’ve got the scoop — the cookie scoop, that is — on recipes from Blade staffers that have been made for generations and some newer ones that are destined to become classics.

Managing editor Dave Murray offers a recipe for cut-out cookies that his family has enjoyed for 25 years.

Staff writer Vanessa McCray shares a recipe for frosted Anise Cookies handed down from her late grandmother.

Gardening writer and WTVG-TV anchor Kelly Heidbreder also offers a recipe from her grandmother.

Olivia Herrera, a news assistant in the Features department who is widely considered the best baker at The Blade, gives us her recipe for Thumbprints, a family favorite.

Jennifer Feehan, a staff writer who covers the courts, bakes a lot during the year but saves her sugar-coated Walnut Crescents for the holidays.

And Jennifer Peelor, who works in page layout, gives us a recipe for brightly colored and flavored Lemon Crinkles.

So, grab a handful of cookies hot off the presses ... er, rather, freshly baked and warm from the oven, then settle into your comfy chair and enjoy your treats with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk — and, of course, your copy of The Blade.

Walnut Crescents

These cookies “are wonderful with a hot cup of tea or coffee,” says staff writer Jennifer Feehan.

1 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix in flour and walnuts until well-blended. Cover and chill.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll with your hands into finger-thick strips. Shape into crescents. Bake in preheated 300-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until firm to touch.

While cookies are still warm, roll the cookies in granulated sugar. Place on racks to cool.

Source: Jennifer Feehan


Olivia Herrera, a news assistant in the Features department, says this recipe is “loved by my family and friends.”

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Fruit preserves

Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugar in large bowl at medium speed until well blended. Add flour and baking soda, mix well, then add nuts. Chill for 1/2 hour or until firm.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Indent centers and fill with preserves (apricot, strawberry, etc.). Bake at 350 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Source: Olivia Herrera

Lemon Crinkles

“Here’s a recipe I’ve been making for a couple of years,” writes Jennifer Peelor, who works in page layout. “This recipe also works well with gluten-free flour.”

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 whole egg

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until just combined.

Pour powdered sugar into a bowl. Form dough into balls 1 teaspoonful at a time and roll in powdered sugar. Place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Source: Jennifer Peelor

Aunt Vertie’s Sugar Cookies

“I fell in love with this recipe,” says managing editor Dave Murray. “It’s from Gourmet Magazine in 1991 and is a bit notorious .... It seems the recipe was submitted by a Nebraska woman in honor of her Aunt Vertie. It called for wintergreen extract, which the Gourmet kitchen testers couldn’t find, so they substituted wintergreen oil. Turns out wintergreen oil is poisonous and not meant for human consumption. Gourmet [had to] send out a national notice to all subscribers within a couple months to use wintergreen extract. The New York Times wrote about the cookie danger and hence the controversy and notoriety.”

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar plus additional for sprinkling the cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 teaspoon wintergreen extract or almond extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon double-acting

baking powder

1 cup sour cream

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and whisk in 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, and wintergreen extract. In another bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches, alternately with the sour cream, stirring until the mixture forms a dough. Chill the dough, covered, for at least two hours or overnight.

Roll out the dough 1/3-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Transfer the cookies to lightly greased baking sheets and sprinkle with sugar. Gather the scraps, re-roll the dough, and cut out more cookies. Bake in batches in the middle of a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are set and the edges are pale golden. Transfer them with a spatula to racks and let them cool.

Source: Adapted from Helen Gustafson, Gourmet

Anise Cookies

“I have a well-loved anise cutout cookie recipe that I make every Christmas,” says staff writer Vanessa McCray, “following the tradition of my mother and my grandmother, Betty Bowen, whose carefully typed recipe card I still pull out as reference. This cookie has a hint of anise’s licorice-like flavoring and is perfect for cutting out ‘fancy shapes,’ as my grandmother’s recipe calls them. I prefer trees, mittens, stars, and Scottie dogs because they’re the most fun to decorate.”

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon anise flavoring

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and anise flavoring and mix. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and then gradually add into the mixture.

Cover dough and chill for one hour. Roll dough on lightly floured board to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into fancy shapes. Bake at 375 degrees on ungreased cookie

sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies.

I frost the cookies with a simple icing made of most of a 1 pound bag of confectioners sugar, some milk, and vanilla flavoring. I eyeball the measurements and add more sugar if it needs to be thicker or more milk if it needs to spread more easily.

Source: Betty Bowen

Gami’s Christmas Molasses Crinkles

“I love this recipe,” says Kelly Heidbreder, gardening columnist and WTVG-TV, Channel 13, news anchor. “It takes me back to Christmas when I was about 6 years old and making cookies with my grandmother. We called her Gami, and she was a wizard baking anything. The thing I love most is making her Molasses Crinkles from her handwritten recipe card.”

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt shortening and let cool. Add 1 cup sugar, molasses, and egg and blend well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Roll dough into small balls, then roll them in the extra sugar and place onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Dip your finger in water and drop a big drop of water on the top of each ball. The cookie will flatten in the oven and give you a beautiful crust on the outside and

a soft center. The drop of water will make the top crackle and give it its signature “crinkle.” You can also add a dab of your favorite jelly on the cookie before baking.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Source: Kelly Heidbreder

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2018 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…