Decorating holiday cookies is a wonderful tradition! Esther’s Sugar Cookies are tender and soft, and the dough can be rerolled as many times as you need. Happy baking…and decorating!
I never knew Esther. Esther was a local legend in the White City, Kansas area. You see, my friend Debbie Lyons-Blythe is a farmer, rancher and blogger out in White City. A couple months back, we got to chatting about family recipes and how these recipes make their way into our collective recipe boxes. Debbie told me that when she got married, her friends threw her a shower where everyone wrote down a recipe and gave it to her. The key here: each recipe was hand-written by the giver. What a cool idea! And Debbie noted that many of these recipes are still in her regular rotation today.
But back to Esther and her sugar cookies. Esther was well known in town. She was a short lady with a feisty attitude…and she always had cookies. In fact, her nickname around town was “Cookie Grandma.” As I was chatting with Debbie about Esther, I could totally picture what she must have been like. In fact, she reminds me of my grandma in many ways. When Esther was in her late 80’s and early 90’s, she’d go around town picking up the mail for the “old people” in town. Each year, Esther would ride through town on the Halloween parade float. Oh, and did I mention that Esther was famous for her cookies?
Esther’s Sugar Cookies
Debbie passed the recipe for Esther’s Sugar Cookies along to me recently, and the first thing I noticed was that it called for margarine. Not only did the recipe call for margarine, but Esther very specifically noted “do NOT use butter” for these cookies. I feel like margarine is one of those ingredients that has largely fallen by the wayside. It was a household staple several generations ago, but now I had to seriously hunt for a package of margarine in the store. Maybe it’s because upstate NY is a big dairy state, but butter by far dominated margarine in the dairy section. However, I wasn’t about to question Esther!
Esther’s Sugar Cookies are soft cookies in the very best way possible. And as Esther notes in her recipe, this cookie dough can be rolled out again and again without getting tough. That makes it a good one for Christmas sugar cookies. I decided to make a batch of these sugar cookies because, well, cookies. And because I feel like it would make Esther proud to share her recipe out here on the world wide web. This one’s for you, Esther!
In addition to the traditional Christmas cookies, I decided to go one step further and make some farm-themed cookies, too. (I found this set of farm cookie cutters on Amazon.) I’ve been to Morris County, Kansas. It’s not a big place. There are far more cows than people in that part of Kansas. According to the last official census, there were 6,000 people in the county….and 77,000 cows. In fact, when Debbie and I were chatting back in the summer about Esther’s cookies, she sent me a snapshot of what she was doing at that very moment. She was making hay. Literally. Now I’ve never been a farmer, but I must admit that this view is really nice!
Truth be told, I also cut out some cow-shaped cookies, but I ended up not decorating them. I didn’t have any brown food coloring on hand – imagine that! I googled how to use other colors to make brown, but it ended up looking like a camouflage green. If I wanted cookies that looked like US Army cows, then that would have been fine. But I wanted brown cows! Of course, I could’ve used black to represent the Black Angus cows on Debbie’s farm, but I didn’t think about that until it was too late. Next time, Debbie, next time!
As we head into the holiday season, make sure to schedule an afternoon to make Esther’s Sugar Cookies. If you’ve got little hands around, ask them to help out! Decorating Christmas cookies is a wonderful tradition, and no holiday season should pass without a round (or two) of cookies. From the Spiced house (and Esther) to your family, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season full of tasty sugar cookies!
Did you make a batch of Esther’s Sugar Cookies at home? Leave a comment. Or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). Happy baking!
Esther's Sugar Cookies
Esther’s Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup margarine Note: Do not use butter for this recipe
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
Sugar Cookie Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 Tbsp milk
- 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- food coloring optional
- sprinkles optional
For the Cookies
- Using an electric mixer, add sugar, margarine, eggs and vanilla; beat on medium speed until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in several additions, beating after each addition.
- Cover and refrigerate dough for several hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Working on a floured surface, roll dough to about 1/8” thick. Cut cookies into desired shapes. (Note: This dough can be rolled out again and again without getting tough.)
- Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to turn light brown.
- Sprinkle cookies generously with sugar or decorate as desired.
For the Frosting
- Using a medium mixing bowl, add powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup and vanilla extract; stir until well combined.
- If coloring the frosting, divide frosting into bowls and color at this point.
- Transfer frosting into piping bags fitted with a piping tip or ziptop bags with the corners snipped off.
- Pipe frosting onto cookies and decorate with sprinkles (optional).
- Let cookies stand at room temperature for several hours, or until frosting has hardened.