Tuesday, October 11, 2011
for my soul
These cookies are awesome.
At least, I think they’re awesome because I have A Thing for sweets made with brown sugar. The caramel-y, butterscotch-y sweetness just does something for my soul.
These cookies have history. They go all the way back to when I was a tall, lunky, little (but not really little—only my veins have the privilege of being called “little”) girl with long, straight blond hair. My parents stuffed me and my two brothers into the back of the banana yellow Camaro with sticky-hot black plastic seats—
Wait. Right now’s a good time to show you a picture of my two little brothers, but about 23 years after they got stuffed in the back of the Camaro with me.
They still look like little boys though, don’t they? Little boys, chasing each other at breakneck speeds. They just happen to be bigger now, that’s all.
[hits the resume button]
—and drove us to a small town in PA to see my mother’s friend, an elderly woman named Elizabeth. I took to calling her “Aunt Elizabeth” because I had to find a way to lay claim to someone who had a gold fish pond and acres of manicured lawn and a little kitchen with a jar of iced brown sugar cookies sitting on the counter. I thought they were wonderful, and my mother must’ve, too, because we now have the recipe. End of story.
Except there’s one more thing. When I called my mom to doublecheck my memory regarding the source of the cookies, she said that Elizabeth threw a baby shower for my mom when she was pregnant with me. Isn’t that sweet? Elizabeth was taking care of my needs before I even entered the world, so it’s only natural and right that today my soul should be set to singing upon eating her brown sugar cookies.
My son made the cookies one morning last week. I was in the midst of a cooking rampage, making all manner of edibles. I flew about, issuing invaluable words of wisdom, and he heeded them and it was all sorts of pleasant. But I didn’t take any pictures of the cookies so I had to make them again today.
And thus concludes the tale of the brown sugar cookies.
Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Cookies
From my "Aunt" Elizabeth via my mom
Mom says that Elizabeth baked these cookies in a wood stove. That, and the lard, made them seem extra old-fashioned. I did not bake mine over a wood stove, and I only used half lard, so I guess that makes them only halfway old fashioned?
Also, Mom says these cookies are supposed to be soft and cake-y, but mine are more soft and chewy, with a bit of crunch around the edges. If you’d like the more cake-y version, add another ½ cup (or so) of flour to the dough.
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup lard
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 recipe brown sugar icing, but with some changes (see below)
coarse salt, optional
Cream together the sugar and fats. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the buttermilk and then the dry ingredients. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto greased baking sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for 9-12 minutes.
Once the cookies are cooled and ready to be iced, make the icing. (Don’t make the icing ahead of time as the icing thickens once it cools.) Increase the confectioner’s sugar from 1 cup to 1 ½ cups for a thickly pourable icing, or 2 cups for a more spreadable affair. Omit the pecans.
Drop a spoonful of icing on a cookie and then spread it around with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the freshly iced cookies with salt, if using, and allow them to sit at room temperature for a few minutes until the icing has hardened. Store the cookies in a plastic container with pieces of wax paper between layers, and store in the freezer. Because if you leave them out at room temperature you’ll eat them all and blow up like a big red balloon.
This same time, years previous: Mr. Handsome's birthday of 2010, anticipating the mothballs