Celebrating the Seasons

My mother-in-law, Nancy Kolls, shows off a batch of these beautiful family cookies.

Kolls Family Cookies

No Christmas is complete without cookies — lots and lots of cookies. My husband's family has been sharing these cookies through the generations. They are a thin, iced sugar cookie with a few secret ingredients that make them the best! I make triple batches, bake them, and let the kids invite their friends over for an intense decorating party. We cover the table with containers full of colorful sugar, candies, and frosting, and the kids do the rest!

Makes about 36 cookies

The Dough

2cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cups shortening
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

The Icing

3cups powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon softened butter
almond, lemon or vanilla
extract, based on preference,
or add a little of all three
Food coloring (optional)

The Decorations

  • Sprinkles
  • Colored sugars
  • Edible decorative gels


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and lemon extract, and beat again. Mix in the dry ingredients slowly. Cover the dough mixture and chill for at least three hours or overnight. (I've cheated and popped the dough in the freezer until hard — works great).

Once the dough is well chilled, place about 1/4 of It on a large piece of flour-dusted waxed paper. Flatten the dough and dust with more flour. Cover with another large piece of waxed paper and roll flat to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Peel off the top layer of wax paper. Dip a cookie cutter in flour, and press the cutter into the dough. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue rolling out and cutting the dough. If It becomes difficult to work with put It back into the freezer or fridge, and pull out a chilled piece.

Bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes, or until edges begin turning brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer cooled cookies onto paper towels.

To make the Icing, mix powdered sugar in a large bowl. Carefully work in butter. Add milk until you achieve the desired consistency. (I prefer mine slightly thinner than pancake batter.) Add a few drops of extracts and food coloring, as desired.

Using a pastry brush, paint cooled cookie with the Icing and decorate while still wet. No rules for neatness! Be sure to have a camera on hand! Enjoy!

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