This is a family recipe I inherited from my grandma. One story I always heard her tell was that her mom would never tell anyone her recipes. When her mom passed away, all those recipes were lost. So whenever I would ask grandma for a recipe, she would always give it to me. A few years before she died, I asked if she would make copies for me of all the Christmas cookies she used to make. She had rheumatoid arthritis which had tragically crippled and twisted her hands, and I was expecting her to send me scanned or photocopied recipes. Instead, one day there was an envelope from her in the mailbox containing 7 or 8 separate recipe cards, each written in her painfully shaky, labored handwriting. I knew what an effort that must have been for her and how much love she showed just by doing this simple thing. She has been gone since 2006, and those cards are now some of my most treasured recipes.
This one is labeled as “My main basic sugar cookie recipe”. This is a VERY soft sugar cookie that whips up and bakes like your standard drop cookie. This dough is very soft, and spreads and puffs enormously in the oven. This is definitely not a recipe for sugar cookie cutouts.
If you’re just going to do the sugar, wet your finger with a drop of water, then rub your finger around the bottom of a glass. You don’t want your glass to be too wet, otherwise the sugar will clump and melt. Dip the wet glass into a small dish filled with sugar. Then press the glass gently onto your ball of dough.
So here are my grandma’s “main basic sugar cookies” – with one modification. Her recipe as written calls for Oleo (margarine, for us young whippersnappers), and margarine is just not a part of my vocabulary when it comes to baking, so I use and prefer real butter.
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until combined. Stir in vegetable oil and then dry ingredients. Make sure to combine dry ingredients thoroughly, or you may get a cookie that melts in the oven like that guy’s face at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Form dough into 1” balls. If you’re not going to frost them, roll them in granulated sugar. Then place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and slightly flatten into a disc shape with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. A 1” cookie ball flattened spreads to about a 3” cookie so leave plenty of space between them.
- Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until the bottoms are browning lightly.
Frost if desired with soft buttercream frosting.