Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Gram's cookies– a major meltdown story

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This is what they're supposed to look like.  Buttery, powdered-sugar-y, fluffy-but-rich little drops of chocolate-chip heaven.  

These are the cookies that made a generation of wary grandchildren smile at the expectation of a visit from a somewhat dour, WASPy (if well-meaning), grandmother.  Gram's cookies.  Usually delivered in a Folgers coffee tin, along with what she called "the healthy cookies"– basically chocolate chip with oats (healthy!), and quite scrummy, but couldn't hold a candle to THE cookies.  Once I got the recipe from my Gram, these immediately became my go-to holiday cookies (especially cute with Martha Stewart packaging):

Now, normally I'd hesitate to share this amazing, delicious, super-memorable recipe, given its history in my family.  But lately I've been seeing these things called 'snowballs' all over the blogosphere, and with the exception of the sometime addition of ground nuts or anise or something, they're quite similar.  So I guess Gram didn't exactly make them up, and I'm hoping she won't turn in her grave (well, she was cremated and scattered in the Pacific, but you get the idea) when I post the recipe here. 

Ah ah ah, but did you forget how this post started?  As I said, the above photos are what the cookies look like when all goes according to plan.  But this recipe can be a bit finicky.  The dough comes together quite dry, and requires a bit of working to get the balls to hold together (especially if you like to squish them a bit with a fork, as I do, because the grooves hold more powdery goodness).  So although it only has a few ingredients, the recipe requires a bit of attention, and GOD FORBID you do them in a hurry, when you don't have time to re-do.  Because if you do, and you halve it incorrectly, and you accidentally add 1/4c too much flour... well, sometimes you end up with a puddle of butter:

(pardon the pic– I didn't have time for a photo shoot, just whipped out the iphone)

And sometimes, when you find a spare hour to whip up another batch, they do the exact same thing.  And sometimes, you melt into a messier puddle than the cookies.


And sometimes, you just have to go to bed, wake up early the next day, and make gingersnaps instead, and breathe again when they come out perfectly.

*Don't be too daunted by my story; this is the first time I've screwed these up so badly.  I think I was just having a ditzy day.  It's been a stressful couple of weeks, hence the sporadic posting.  Sorry.  Please don't take it out on this AMAZING recipe.  For serious.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
From Bette McIntyre Wampler Mead

1 lb butter
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t vanilla
4.5 c flour
12 oz chocolate chips

Cream butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.  Add salt, vanilla, flour, and chocolate chips.  Form into 1-inch balls and set on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, then let cool.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


  1. I'm totally going to attempt those cookies. I don't handle cookie failure well, so fingers crossed they turn out!

  2. Hi Karly,
    I hope they work out for you! Just remember when you're forming them: the mix will be super crumbly, so just squeeze them into the best ball-shape you can get and try not to stress about the crumbles.
    Good luck!

  3. These sound great! Im wondering if you could bake them into a large cookie bar on a baking sheet?
    I asked cause I have a shortbread recipe that gets powdered sugar sprinkled on them a right out of the oven while hot. It creates little oodles of powdered sugargoodness.
    Please let me know your thoughts on baking in into bar form. Thanks.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I've never tried baking these in bar form... I'd suggest you look at this recipe and your shortbread recipe side by side and attempt a combo, noting any major differences in technique and ingredients and going with your gut on what will work best.  I've done that with a few recipes before and the results are usually at least edible, sometimes stellar.
      If you do give it a go, please come back and let us know how it worked (or didn't)!

    2. Heyyyy update: I made them into bars and they worked great (and my wrists thank you for the idea, Lisa)!


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