Free Web Hosting by Netfirms
Web Hosting by Netfirms | Free Domain Names by Netfirms



Here Comes Christmas


















Through the kitchen door!







His favorite Christmas recipes!


Christmas Cutout Cookies

Christmas Crescent Cookies

Aunt Harriet's Rum Balls

Scotch Shortbread Cookies

Pecan Drop Cookies

Dark Fruit Cake

Mrs McKay's Rich Fruit Cake

Danish Rum Cake




Is there any holiday more fun for children and adults alike?  And what would Christmas be without the baking of cookies?  Here is the perfect chance for parents and children to share the joy of cooking in their own homes and experience the magic of the season.  For indeed, especially to children, cooking is MAGIC.  You put gobs of dough into the oven and, quicker than you can say “Saint Nick”, out come homemade cookies!



What follows are ChefBilly’s traditional family Christmas cookie recipes, passed down through generations.  Every year, these are a MUST at the Inn.  So whether you are seeking to add to your own Christmas traditions or would simply like to try some very old-fashioned cookies at any time of year, these are sure to please.  Each of these recipes has been time-tested for over 50 years!


ChefBilly suggests you begin your Christmas baking about 1 to 2 weeks before the cookies will be served.  Most Christmas cookies keep well and develop fullest flavor when so aged.



Text Box:      Christmas Cutout Cookies

Cutout cookies, meant originally to be hung as ornaments, are one of the oldest cookies associated with Christmas.  The first recipes produced a dry, hard cookie, made more for decorating than for eating.  Indeed, such cookies could be stored away for use year after year.

Since we intend to eat our cookies, the following recipe makes a rich, crumbly cookie, made more for flavor than appearance.  They are also very pretty when decorated and will keep for weeks, but not years.

This recipe is adapted from one my mother clipped from the newspaper in the early 1950s.  It was in an advertisement for Ceresota flour.  I hope someone else saved the recipe as well, because it is the most delicious cutout cookie I know.  The amounts have been doubled to suit family-sized appetites.


1 cup Crisco or other shortening  (Crisco makes a lighter cookie.)
1 cup sugar
3½ cups Ceresota all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tsps real vanilla extract 
2 tsps baking powder
1 egg white
Red and green colored sugar (“sprinkles”) 

Have shortening at room temperature.  Cream the shortening until light and fluffy, adding the sugar gradually.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Sift the flour with the baking powder and stir into the creamed mixture until smooth.  Chill the dough, wrapped in wax paper, for easy rolling.

On lightly floured wax paper, roll portions of the dough out ¼-inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters into any variety of shapes.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar in various designs.  Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets for 10 to 15 minutes in a 375°F oven until lightly browned.  YIELD:  2-3 dozen.  


and sprinkel





















































Text Box:    Christmas Crescent Cookies

These sweet, crumbly, nutty cookies are perhaps the most popular of all Christmas cookies for flavor.  A couple of these with a cup of eggnog may be described as “the taste of Christmas”.  

Many variations of this recipe exist, including the wonderful almond crescents made by the Greeks.  These, made with pecans, are my family’s favorite. 


1 pound butter at room temperature
4 cups Ceresota all-purpose flour
4 cups chopped pecans (buy whole nutmeats and chop them yourself for   freshest flavor)
10 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
sifted Confectioner’s (powdered) sugar


Cream butter and add sugar, vanilla and water.  Sift flour and salt together and stir into mixture.  Add pecans and mix thoroughly.  Using portions about the size of a walnut, form into crescent-shaped cookies with your fingers.  Bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes, until the undersides of the cookies are lightly browned.  When almost cool, roll the cookies in sifted Confectioner’s sugar until thoroughly coated.

I like to store these cookies in tins with more powdered sugar sifted on top.  This recipe makes about 3 or 4 dozen.  You can make half the amount, but I find that these cookies are so delicious that the full amount is quickly consumed.  
















































              Aunt Harriet’s Rum Balls


These are some of the first cookies I can recall eating at our family Christmas parties.  We kids thought they were so exotic because they contained rum, and we pretended to get drunk.  Actually they are made with only a couple of jiggers, just enough to suggest the “spirit” of the season.


This recipe, which dates from the 1950s, is an example of the emphasis on kitchen efficiency emerging at that time.  These rum balls are easily and quickly prepared.  You do not even have to bake them!  If I had time to make only one quick cookie, it would be this one.




½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons white Karo corn syrup

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed fine

2 jiggers (about 3 ounces) rum or whiskey

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar




Mix all ingredients and roll into balls about the size of a small walnut.  Roll in powdered sugar and let dry in a single layer for several hours. 


These ripen with age.  Makes about 20.










































Text Box: Scotch Shortbread Cookies  

I often wonder why so many people go to great trouble to make their cookies look as “perfect” as bakery cookies, when the odd shapes of homemade cookies give them their charm.  These shortbread cookies turn out in odd, round shapes, no two alike, and with beautiful gold color.  

This is another recipe clipped from a magazine in the 1950s.  The flavor, akin to shortbread, is so rich and buttery that is hard to believe they are made with margarine, not butter.  I have not tasted their unique flavor in any other cookie, nor do I know anyone else who has this recipe.  It would be a shame if I were the only one left, so here it is.  

Do not try to substitute butter in this recipe, for it will not be the same.  It is the combination of the margarine and brown sugar that gives these cookies their incomparable taste.  


2 cups Parkay margarine, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
4 cups Ceresota all-purpose flour


Cream the margarine and sugar together.  Add the egg yolk, vanilla and milk and mix well.  Blend in the flour.  Mold the mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls, place on baking sheets, and press flat with a fork which has been dipped in flour.  Bake in 400°F oven 6-8 minutes until golden brown around the edges.  Remove immediately from baking sheets and let cool.

YIELD:  about 4 dozen.












































Text Box:        Pecan Drop Cookies

This very old recipe dates from the 1930s.  The first time I tasted these cookies I thought they were so elegant that they should be served on silver plates.  They are mostly pecans, draped in a fluffy caramel coating, and are expensive to make in large quantity.

They are also a little tricky, as the egg white base tends to stick when baked, especially on a brand new cookie sheet.  If you are lucky enough to have a beat-up, old cookie sheet that is well carbonized, you should do fine.  (Don’t throw those old cookie sheets out!)  You can use a non-stick sheet, but the trade-off is that the cookies will not brown as nicely.  To remove all danger of sticking, bake the cookies on parchment paper.

Once you have mastered these cookies you will find them worth the effort.  They are absolutely delicious and are sure to draw raves.


2 cups dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla


Blend the brown sugar, flour, and salt, making sure there are no lumps.  In a large, separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff.  Fold in the sugar mixture, chopped pecans and vanilla.

You can make these cookies large or small.  I like to drop heaping tablespoons onto metal cookie sheets well-greased with Crisco.  Place the cookies well apart as they spread considerably.  Bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes until golden brown.  Watch them carefully; baking time will depend on size.

If you try to remove these cookies from the sheets too soon, they will fall apart.  If you wait too long, they will cement themselves to the sheets.  Wait a minute or two after removing them from the oven, and when they are lukewarm they usually come off quite easily with a thin, metal spatula.

These cookies lend themselves to a  number of  variations.  You can use different kinds of nuts, add chocolate and/or caramel chips, or omit the nuts altogether.  Add your imagination!






















































































Cakes, embellished with fruits, nuts, and spirits, reflect the richness of our Christmas celebrations.  Here are some of ChefBilly’s favorites.



Text Box: My Grandmother Jeannie’s Dark Fruit Cake

This moist, delicious cake is easily prepared for a fruitcake.  It is unusual for the addition of grape juice.  Made in a tube pan and decorated with holly, this cake makes a festive centerpiece for the Christmas dinner table.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves and nutmeg
4 cups raisins (dark and golden, mixed)
4 cups chopped candied fruit mix
1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1 cup grape juice
2 tablespoons molasses


Cream butter, gradually adding sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs.  Slowly stir in sifted dry ingredients, mixed with the fruit and nuts, alternately with combined grape juice and molasses.  Turn into greased tube pan lined with heavy brown paper (or parchment paper) and again greased.  Fill pan about three-quarters full.  Bake in a slow (300°F) oven until done, about 3½ hours.  A toothpick inserted into the finished cake should come out clean.  Remove cake from tube pan and remove paper and let the cake cool on a wire rack.  This recipe makes one large tube cake.
                                                --Jeannie McDonald Anderson

ChefBilly’s note:  make sure your fruit and nuts are well dusted with the flour/spice mixture before folding them into the batter or they will separate out when baked





















































Text Box: Mrs. McKay’s Rich Fruit Cake

This very old recipe was sent all the way from Scotland to my Grandmother Jeannie in the year of who-knows-when.  This delectable fruitcake is lighter in color and texture than the dark fruitcake above.  God bless you Mrs. McKay!

As in many old recipes, amounts are given by weight.  Use a kitchen scale or consult the packages of your ingredients for weights.


14 ounces (about 2¾ cups presifted) all-purpose flour
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter
12 ounces soft brown sugar (¾ of a 1 pound package)
8 ounces pitted cherries
12 ounces currants
12 ounces sultanas (seedless, golden raisins)
6 ounces dark raisins
4 ounces mixed, candied peel
4 ounces ground almonds
1 tablespoon mixed spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg)
½ cup dry sherry
6 eggs


Soak the fruit in the sherry overnight.  Cream the butter and the sugar.  Lightly beat the eggs and gradually add to the butter and sugar, beating well.  Stir the sifted dry ingredients into the fruit, and then add to the egg mixture, stirring well.  Scrape into a large, buttered loaf or tube pan.  Bake for one hour at 325°F, and then for five hours at 250°F.  Turn out and let cool on rack.

































  Hot Shots


The Resource Center





Copyright ©2003 by William Gordon McDonald