I missed the boat on Thanksgiving recipes; I don’t plan to do the same with Christmas. Now, in my family, there is one and only one sure sign that it is Christmas. No, it’s not the decorations (since those usually go up last minute and stay up far too long), or the Christmas Plates (which don’t come out until Christmas eve), or the music on the radio or the weather (hello, Southern California), no, it’s not any of those things. It’s much more simple. Sugar Crisps.
What are Sugar Crisps, you ask? Only the best and most delicious cookie you’ll ever eat. Unfortunately, you’ll only ever eat it on Christmas. I believe Angels actually partake in them around the holidays. And sadly for you, you’ve probably never had one (unless you are my family. or my friends) because this recipe has been closely guarded. Because Sugar Crisps are my grandma’s cookie. Did she invent them? For all intents and purposes, I’m going to say yes. Maybe it was her mother. Or maybe it was her grandmother. Or maybe it was an article in the paper or a recipe in a cookbook, I sure don’t know. All I know is we learned it from her, and that’s all you need to know.
Actually, it’s not. The other thing you need to know is that these are Christmas Cookies. Capitals C’s. Both times. Meaning they are to be made for Christmas. To eat and to share and to leave out for Santa. They are not Easter cookies. They are not Fourth of July Cookies or First Day of Fall cookies. They are for Christmas. Although, if you don’t celebrate Christmas you could just make them in celebration of the month of December because what I’m trying to say here is that it would be blasphemy to make these cookies any other month. This recipe has never been shared outside the family until now. But in the spirit of Christmas I share it now with you, because as my Dad said, “the more people that make sugar crisps, the better!” Just, try not to make them whenever you need a cookie fix. They’ll lose their magic that way.
So please, in the spirit of December, go make these cookies. And then curse silently that after this month you’ll have to wait a whole ‘nother year before you can have them again.
SUGAR CRISPS (this recipe is transcribed exactly from my Grandma’s recipe card. She wasn’t a fan of detail, so the parentheses are my additions, in the hopes of making it easier to understand.)
1 package yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
½ cup Crisco
2 beaten eggs
½ cup sour cream (this year was my first making them alone, and I never buy sour cream because I’m forgetful, so in a pinch you can use plain yogurt. Greek is best because it’s thick)
1 tsp vanilla (use good vanilla; not imitation or it tastes funny)
2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (or half and half; but go easy on the almond as almond extract is extremely strong)
1 ½ cups sugar to roll in
- Set yeast in cup with water—set aside
- In large bowl put flour and salt and cut in shortenings. (Like for pie crust)
- Stir in eggs, vanilla, sour cream and yeast. (We mix these in a separate bowl first and then combine with dry ingredients)
- Put in refrigerator for several hours (We divide it up into thirds or so and cover it in wax paper before putting it in the refrigerator, but you can put it all in as one whole ball)
- Take out about ¼ of the dough (or one of your dough balls if you already divided it) and roll on board that you have sprinkled sugar and vanilla mixture on, top too. (don’t be stingy here; go nuts with the sugar. there is no sugar in the dough so this is where the cookies get their sweetness. You roll the cookies in sugar as if it was flour; being extremely generous with the sugar)
- Roll to rectangle—flip top down and bottom up to form 3 layers. Slice into ribbons. Twist. Put on cookie sheet. If not full, put sheet in refrigerator until you roll more. Sugar should not start to get soft.
Bake 350 degrees 12-15 minutes
Sounds complicated but is not really. Worth the effort!