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Three Generations of Christmas Recipes

Updated on February 14, 2018

Nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon—the smells that waft through the air with Christmas baking. All hands on deck to roll out dough, cut out shapes, put cookies onto baking sheets and eagerly wait for the aroma to fill the house. Once the cookies have cooled, everyone gathers around the table to ice the cookies and decorate using their favorite sprinkles or edible decorations. These are my favorite memories of Christmas.

I want to share with you three generations of Christmas cookie recipes that were the favorites of Grandma, Mom, and her three daughters. I hope you will try them and some might become your favorites as well.

Ammonia Cookies


¾ cup sugar

½ cup butter

3 small eggs

½ tsp. peppermint extract

1 cup rich milk (half and half cream)

2 Tbsp. baking ammonia

4 ½ cups (about) unsifted all-purpose flour


Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat well.

Add peppermint extract.

Dissolve ammonia in a little of the milk.

Add dry ingredients and the milk alternately

Roll out dough and cut in rounds and place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.


When I was a child, we went to grandparents place every Christmas. It was a time to play with the cousins, sing lots of Christmas carols, and perform our poem or song which we had learned for the "program." It was special to be there with them and enjoy a meal together. Of course, as children, we looked forward to the goodie-bag!

My maternal Grandmother used to make a Soft Peppernut Cookie that was passed down from previous generations before her. She also made a family favorite called the Jam-Jam (two spicy cookies put together with jam in the middle). The one I remember the most was an Ammonia Cookie—I loved the flavor of it. Many years later, when I tried to bake them, no one knew anything about baking ammonia. It seemed incredible to me that the only place it could be found was at a Pharmacy. The first person I asked had no idea, but the pharmacist was able to help. He told me, however, that it had to be used up quickly or it would evaporate even in a sealed container. It is true, so make sure to buy just the right amount for the recipe.


Mom had two cookie recipes that were always baked every Christmas. We would fill up to 16 one-gallon ice-cream buckets full of cookies for our celebrations during the season. Obviously, baking was started early and stored in the freezer until needed. These two favorite recipes are: Grandmother's Soft White Cookie and the iced Molasses Cookie.

Molasses Cookies

(this was also my Dad's favorite)


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups shortening (margarine)
  • 1 cup sour milk (add 1 tsp vinegar to the milk)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup syrup
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • ½ tbsp cloves
  • ½ tbsp allspice
  • 3 ½ tbsp baking soda
  • flour enough to make a soft dough


Cream sugar and shortening, add milk, molasses and syrup, beat well.

Sift 2 cups of flour with ginger, cloves, allspice and baking soda.

Gradually add more flour until a you get a fairly soft dough, but firm enough to roll out.

Roll out dough, cut into rounds and place on cookie sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Ice with white icing and place five peanut halves in the shape of a star with one in the middle.

Grandmother's Cookies (Soft White)


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda (scant)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla, lemon or almond flavoring
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Flour enough to make fairly stiff dough. Start with 2 cups and add more till correct consistency is achieved.


Cream shortening, add sugar and eggs, beat well.

Add alternately the flour (sifted with baking soda, baking powder and salt) with the milk, to the creamed mixture.

Roll out the dough, cut out desired shape using cookie cutters and place on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375°F till done (approximately 12 minutes)

Ice cookies with chocolate icing and sprinkle with coconut, or with white icing and use candied sprinkles.

The three daughters (my two sisters and I) each have a Christmas cookie favorite. As adults we have developed our own family traditions but, as in most families, we have our favorite Christmas recipes. The following is just one recipe from each of us—hope you find something you like!

Ginger Crackles (Middle Daughter)


  • 1 ½ cups shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. cloves


Cream shortening and sugar, beat in eggs and molasses.

Combine dry ingredients and blend in.

Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar.

Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. (be sure not to overbake, the cookies will set as they cool)

Gelatin Cookie (Oldest Daughter)


  • ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 3 ½ cups flour


Cream sugar and butter, add eggs and vanilla, mix well.

Alternately add flour (sifted with baking soda and cream of tartar) with the milk

Roll out and cut into rounds and place on cookie sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until done.

Gelatin Icing

Soak 2 tbsp gelatin in ½ cup cold water.

Mix 2 cups sugar with 1 ¼ cup water--boil for a few minutes,

Then add the soaked gelatin and bring back to a boil, remove from heat.

Let it nearly cool then beat with egg beater until light.

When it is almost cold add extract and a pinch of salt

Spread a thick layer onto each cookie round and put a dollop of strawberry or raspberry jam into the middle of the marshmallow and coat with thin layer of coconut.

How to make Spritz Cookies

Cookie Press Sugar Cookie (Youngest Daughter—Me)


  • 1 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


Cream butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla, mix well.

Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.

Select tip for cookie press, fill with dough and press cookies onto cookie sheet.

(Option: If using the flower design, press a candy cinnamon heart in center before baking for decoration.)

Bake at 375°F for 7-10 minutes or until done (just slightly light brown around edge)

Once cooled, dip in melted chocolate if desired.

© 2010 Flo Belanger


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