As a child, I looked forward to eating Grandma Angie's cherry Christmas cookies every year. As an adult, I enjoy honoring her tradition and the memories these cookies bring back. Read on for the story, or scroll down for Grandma Angie's recipe.
Grandma Angie was the stereotypical Grandmother: kind, nurturing, good at spoiling young children, and excellent at baking things.
As a child, I loved visiting Grandma Angie's. I knew that I would receive something sweet: butterfingers, cookies, or an entire container of cool whip (seriously) if only I joined her to watch Wheel of Fortune.
Most of the treats she gave me were things my parents rarely allowed me to eat. So I would hide my treats in a very secret place: the top drawer of my nightstand.
My mother could often be found dumping butterfingers out of this drawer, much to my dismay.
This Thanksgiving, my dad compared me to Grandma Angie as he watched the quantities of butter I used. It was a holiday, after all, and despite my general belief in eating healthy and fresh things, holidays presume the honoring of family traditions. In my family's case, butter is a big tradition.
Dad explained that whenever grandma's cooking was complimented, she decided that it was the butter, eggs, or cream that made it good. Thus, every year, she would add more butter, more eggs, and more cream. Apparently, by the time she hosted her last Thanksgiving, it had gotten out of hand.
This is why I was not surprised to discover that my favorite childhood Christmas cookie's primary ingredient is butter. In fact, there are only four other ingredients: sugar, flour, vanilla, and a maraschino cherry on top of each cookie.
Clearly, maraschino cherries are not something I seek out these days. My adult-self does not believe that something so sugary and processed can rightfully even be called a cherry. But, in honoring tradition once a year, I do break out a jar of the sweet red "cherries" I loved as a child.
In fact, as a child I was addicted to maraschino cherries. Growing up in a small town, I'd dictated a rule for dining at each of the town's two restaurants. When I ordered a Shirley Temple, it had to arrive with a maraschino cherry for each year of my life. At the age of 4 or 5, this wasn't too much of a problem. But, when I turned 9, my sister-- who was a waitress at one of the restaurants-- put her foot down. From then on, I was only allowed one cherry. This was very disappointing.
Perhaps that is why I was so excited when Grandma baked these cookies for Christmas. I could eat multiple cookies, and multiple cherries all at the same time. What a wonderful, wonderful thing.
As an adult, I can see why Grandma Angie liked making these. They are so simple, appropriately festive, and an all-around good cookie. I whipped together a batch of these in no time last night, and they turned out well. These would be the perfect cookie to bake in a crunch before a holiday gathering. If you don't have maraschino cherries in your pantry, you can use some homemade jam instead.
Grandma Angie's Christmas Cherry Butter Cookies
Makes 4 dozen small cookies
- 2 sticks butter
- 8 TBS white sugar
- 2 cups flour (scant cups)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 24 Maraschino cherries, halved
Grandma Angie's Directions:
Cream sugar and butter. Add vanilla. Add flour until combined.
Roll into small balls, each the size of a small walnut.
Press a cherry in the center of each one, for decoration.
Bake on un-greased baking sheet at 400 F for 15 minutes.