Plenty of people bake over the holidays and give wonderful hand-prepared gifts as presents. Though I am not much of a baker except for occasional pies, I remember making all kinds of cookies with my Mom at Christmastime when I was a kid. We had all the usual stuff—the cookie cutters, red and green sugar, those little silver balls, nuts, powdered sugar and recipes.
It was one of the few occasions during the year when I spent an entire day just with Mom and doing some real cooking. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and even though I was young, I was already motivated to cook my little heart out.
Mom’s cooking typically involved any new food products that came out and at the time she was completely impressed with frozen foods—frozen TV dinners, of course, and frozen vegetables, and anything else that could be pulled out of the freezer and made ready to eat in minutes. And if it wasn’t frozen, then it came out of a can. Except for salad, which was always iceberg lettuce and tomato topped with and only with French’s French Dressing. Not too exciting for a budding cook, so the chance to make real cookies with real ingredients including real flour instead of “Wondra” was special indeed!
[Mom: “Look! They’ve invented flour that can be mixed with cold water to make gravy!” Me: “What do you usually have to mix it with?” Mom: “Hot water. But now you don’t have to heat the water up!” Me: “?”]
This was a time when my mother and I always got along better than usual and we would talk about all kinds of things. She would tell me stories about her Christmases as a child and about our family—many of whom I had never met. I loved hearing about my grandmother who was apparently a genius Christmas cookie maker and had handed down a sacred recipe for “wine cookies”—better known as “Grandmother’s Wine Cookies.”
The Wine Cookie recipe was on an aging, brown little scrap of paper in my grandmother’s faded writing. It was a beautiful work of art with her scrolled writing and the nearly parchment look to the paper. It had decades’ worth of little spots and stains from butter, molasses and of course, dark, red wine.
My first fascination with these cookies was that they had wine in them. That’s not a cookie ingredient! That’s not something I’m allowed to have! You mean I can have a cookie with wine in it? Can you taste the wine? What is wine?
My second fascination was that this was a type of lace cookie that bubbled up when you baked it and became a delicate, thin, lacey-looking wafer with a slight sheen to it. Each cookie seemed intricate and one-of-a-kind like snowflakes.
And they were absolutely delicious! And you could taste the wine quite a bit!
We made these every single year and every year my mother said she would hand this recipe down to me which was an idea I savored as much as I savored the cookies themselves.
As the years passed we eventually stopped doing the cookie marathons, I grew up and moved out and got a family of my own. I hadn’t tasted Grandmother’s Wine Cookies for many, many years. When my mother passed I looked and looked for this beautiful piece of paper. Sadly I never found it. I asked relatives if they knew the recipe but never found someone who did. And every single Christmas since then, I think of these cookies.
So now, fifty years later, I’ve decided to find my Grandmother’s Wine Cookies somehow! They had flour, lots of butter, salt and were sweetened with molasses which mixed with all the butter gave them that ability to bubble up and look like lace. And of course they had dark, rich, red wine. (No idea what type of red wine.) They may have also had sugar but I’m not sure.
Seems like I could re-invent these! But it would be great if I can first find a good recipe for this cookie or even a good recipe for molasses lace cookies that I can transform. Can anyone help me with that? Can you help me with your own recipe or guide me through The Power of the Internet to a recipe that’s a close match?
Can anyone help me find my Grandmother’s Wine Cookies?