A few years ago, I went to California before Christmas to spend some time with my aunt and uncle and fly back with my grandmother who was spending Christmas with us that year. I had such a fun time – it was a jam packed 3 or 4 days; going to Oakland for pizza after the flight, going to the City with my aunt to run errands and shop, watching a Cal basketball game, and, of course, getting to go to my favorite, In-N-Out (grilled cheese with grilled onions and animal-style fries, please!). My aunt had just hosted one of those Christmas house-tours, so even though it was during the first few days of December, her house was decorated to the fullest – trees in every room, garland on the banister, and so many cookies in big, beautiful, glass apothecary jars.
She had made so many of my favorites, but there were these pink cookies adorned with nonpareils that were the absolute best. I asked her what they were and she told me they were Swedish heirloom cookies, a recipe that we had in our repertoire, but my mom never really made them. I must have polished off a whole batch of them while I was there, and when I returned, I rustled through my mom’s recipe box, found the card and made them for my family. Everyone loved them. They are super pretty and are soft on the inside. You can choose to tint the dough, like I did for half the batch here, roll them in sprinkles before they bake, or roll them in powdered sugar after. I hadn’t made the rolled powdered sugar ones before, but surprisingly, I think they were my favorite in this batch. These are the easiest cookies – no eggs, no chilling the dough, and no cutters or cookie presses – all you have to do is make sure your butter is softened.
Swedish Heirloom Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups ground nuts
2 cups flour
Sprinkles or powdered sugar to coat, optional
A few drops of red food coloring, optional
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Cream the butter, vanilla, sugar and salt together. Fold in the nuts. Blend in the flour. If you want to tint the dough, add a few drops of food coloring and blend until well combined. Shape dough into balls using a rounded teaspoon. If using sprinkles, roll the balls in the nonpareils. If using powdered sugar, do not roll in powdered sugar until baked.
Bake the cookies for 15 minutes on an un-greased sheet until cooked through. If using powdered sugar, roll the balls in it while still warm after baking. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 80 cookies.