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  • Mary Kay

Gram's Yummy Butternut Ice Box Cookies

Day 8 of "25 Days of Angels Baking Christmas Memories"

Butternuts fresh out of the farm orchard make for delicious Ice Box Cookies, especially at Christmas time.

One of the best aromas out of Gram’s kitchen on the farm at Christmas was the baking of her crispy Butternut Ice Box Cookies. She called them that because she would refrigerate them for a few hours before she sliced and baked them. After she baked them, we would wait about 15 minutes until they were cooled and crisp. The texture is a melt in your mouth feeling – crisp and tender.

They were a favorite of mine at Gram's, especially at Christmastime. But, I really love them any time of the year.

This year I have changed them up a bit, adding mini chocolate chips. Just add some of the mini semi sweet chocolate chips or a 4 ounce rough chopped 60%+ cocoa bar, semi-sweet. This cookie does not work well with regular sized or large chocolate chips so I use the minis. I've tested both milk chocolate and semi sweet, and my taste palate responds to the semi sweet much better. Go ahead and test them yourself to find you and your family's favorite.


This recipe will make about 5 dozen cookies, depending on how big around you make the cylinders.

Prepare the cookie sheets:

Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

Preheat the oven:

- A few minutes before you are ready to bake the cookies, set the oven temperature to 375F degrees.

- Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Ice Box Ingredients:

1 C Shortening or lard (I sometimes use butter)

1 C Sugar

1 C Brown sugar

3 Eggs, large

1 t Vanilla extract

½ C Sour cream

4 C Flour, or more

2 t Soda (Baking soda)

1 t Salt

½ – ¾ C Raisins or dates, rough chopped (optional)

3/4 C Butternuts, rough chopped (I use Pecans, rough chopped)

3/4 C mini semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Mix the cookie dough:

- Using shortening or lard will make the cookies a little softer while using butter will make them crispier. It's your choice.

- Beat the sugars and shortening together until creamy and smooth. (Gram noted on her handwritten copy of the recipe that she sometimes used 2 cups of brown sugar in place of 1 cup white and 1 cup brown. She always had lard on hand to use in all of her baking, including cookies, pies, etc. She never bought shortening until her later years when they no longer had any animals on the farm to provide the lard.)

- Beat the sugars and shortening together until creamy and smooth.

- Add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition.

- Stir in the vanilla extract and sour cream, blending well. Set aside.

- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, soda (baking soda) and salt. (In Gram’s handwritten recipes she refers to soda, even though today’s recipes specifically call for baking soda.)

- Mix the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl until well combined.

- Stir in the chopped raisins, dates or butternuts. (Gram had butternut trees on the farm, so she used butternuts in a lot of her baking. I use pecans or even mini semi-sweet chocolate chips or even rough chopped Andes mint bars for different flavors.)

- If you add chopped raisins or dates, be sure to mix them in a little flour to make sure they don’t stick together or clump together in the batter.

- Stir well and form into two long cylinders. You can make them 2-4” in diameter. The smaller around the cylinders are, the longer they will be and the more cookies you will get out of the batch.

- Wrap the cylinders in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours.

- Bake at 375F degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown around the edges. I like to get them a little golden in the centers, too for a crispier cookie.

Yummy Flavor Options:

- I love Gram’s original recipe, but I also like to add other flavors for a change. Add a teaspoon of almond extract and substitute rough chopped almonds for the raisins, dates or butternuts. (This is one substitution I know Gram used if she had almonds in the farmhouse.)

- Include a little peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies or candy canes for a holiday flair.

- Substitute mini semi-sweet chocolate chips for the nuts or raisins, dates. They give the cookies a subtle chocolate flavor.

- Add ½ teaspoon of mint extract along with rough chopped Andes mints in place of the raisins, dates or nuts at the end.

- Stir in crushed Butterfinger candy bars in place of the options at the end of the recipe.

- Gently toss crushed Heath candy bars in the batter in place of the options at the end of the recipe. Then, sandwich two cookies together with a melted chewy caramel in between. Soften the unwrapped Werther chewy caramels in the microwave (don’t melt) and place a couple in the middle of two cookies for a special little sandwich.

These are fun cookies, making it easy to Bake your own Memories!

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