My Aunt Mae died when I was 16 years old. But don’t worry, this isn’t a sad story! I used to bake with her – in a small kitchen that she shared with her sister, Tiny. Yes Mae and Tiny – who were technically my “great” aunts. I knew them very well and spent a lot of time with them, because they lived in a duplex where my Grandma (their sister) was also living. They had an interior door to separate their two “homes”, but the door was always open!
Today I was looking through an old spiral notebook that I found in my recipe cabinet, and right in the middle of it were a few recipes written in my Grandma McKenney’s handwriting.
Now to be clear – this isn’t the same grandma that lived in the duplex. This time, I’m talking about my mom’s mother, who lived out in the country (that’s what we used to say).
I was so excited when I found this recipe today…..My mom’s mother got the recipe from my dad’s aunt! Both of these women (and others who will be discussed at a later date) were so incredibly good to me and both spent a lot of time teaching me how to cook (mainly bake) so they have a special place in my heart! Here’s a recipe – and let me emphasize again: IN HER HANDWRITING – that my grandma wrote down FOR ME that was actually Aunt Mae’s recipe! One more important note: I remember eating these cookies at Mae and Tiny’s place as a child!
Enough of the reminiscing, I know…on to the recipe…..
OK but did you notice the first two words – ICE BOX! Only Grandma’s would use that word. My Grandma probably had an ice box before she had a refrigerator! LOVE IT!
You’ll see that this recipe makes a LOT of cookies, so I’m cutting it in half today. Start by putting 2 sticks, or ½ lb, of softened REAL butter in a bowl, along with the brown sugar.
I had to laugh at the recipe which says to add “1 pound of brown sugar”. Well since I don’t have a 1 lb box, I used Google to help with the conversion (Grandma and Mae probably just guessed and it worked out fine, but I was curious) and it’s about 2 ¼ to 2 1/3 cups per lb. so I added 1 1/8 cup of brown sugar. The recipe now says to cream it, then add the eggs, but I’m a rebel and can’t seem to make a recipe as it reads, so I added the egg before creaming it.
I NEVER measure the vanilla, but I did today since I was taking a picture of it. And to be perfectly honest, that isn’t vanilla. Again, I can’t seem to follow a recipe and I was in an almond extract kind of mood, so that’s what I used. Either will be fine depending on the day and your mood.
Now it says to sift the flour (2 cups) and baking powder ( ½ tsp), but instead I just threw it in the bowl, along with the cinnamon (also ½ tsp), which she left out of her baking directions but that’s ok because her cookies were always good! I blended this until it was all dough-like and held together.
Finally I added ½ cup chopped pecans, but any kind of nuts would be good.
Grandma says to chill before rolling into a log, but Grandma (and Mae) had a lot more spare time than I do, so I just plopped the dough onto a piece of waxed paper and kinda wrapped it and molded it with the wax paper until it was one big log shaped roll.
Now refrigerate it for a few hours or until it is firm.
This is where it gets super exciting because, well, this is when Mae would always let me try to slice the dough, which I wasn’t very good at, but it still tasted good so who cares? Slice into about ¼ inch thick slices and place on a baking sheet. Greased or ungreased? I don’t think it matters….did you notice the amount of butter in this dough??!! I think it will be fine either way.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 or 9 minutes or until they aren’t shiny on top. This recipe made about 2 dozen cookies.
Cool for a few minutes or until you can’t wait any longer, then enjoy!
*Note – Now that I’ve made them again (it had been many decades), I would suggest rolling this dough into a longer skinnier log, or just making two logs. I would also slice them a little thicker, but that’s how I like my cookies. These were still soft, but if you like them crispier, then keep this narrow slice and bake for another minute or two.
- 2 sticks (1/2 lb) of REAL butter
- 1 1/8 C brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 2 C flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ C chopped nuts (of your choice – I prefer pecans)
- Soften butter in a bowl, then add brown sugar, egg, and vanilla and blend well
- Add flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, then mix until smooth
- Now blend in the chopped nuts
- Wrap dough in waxed paper to form a long skinny log (or two smaller ones) and chill for approximately 1 hour or until firm
- Preheat oven to 350ᵒ
- Cut dough into slices about ¼ thick and place on baking sheet
- Bake at 350ᵒ for 8-9 minutes or until top is no longer shinny
- If you prefer extra crispy cookies, then cook for a minute or two longer
- If you prefer super soft cookies, then slice the dough a bit thicker and keep the same baking time