A Cookie Tradition

By on November 27, 2017
8213056 - christmas cookies

Family traditions abound at holiday time, many originate in the kitchen. A common tradition that brings families together is baking cookies.

This traditional holiday sugar cookie recipe came my way through the kitchen of Mrs. Clara Burke, my mother-in-law. Clara grew up in Brockport, New York as Clara Whitney. A hard working, no nonsense, farm raised woman with unlimited common sense. As a woman in a farm kitchen she was skilled in cooking and baking. She used fresh, simple ingredients, whatever she had at hand. Clara claimed her “skills” were merely the result of making a recipe over and over again, but this cookie recipe proves results can be magical on the first try.

I started sharing her cookie recipe in 1973. The recipe didn’t have a name so I called it “Mrs. Burke’s Christmas Cookies.” In the 44 years of sharing, this recipe has traveled across, up and down all over the country, the result of people tasting it, having to have the recipe for themselves, and then sharing the baked cookies and recipe with others. When you taste this cookie there is a sense of balance, maybe it is a remembrance, or the simplicity of it, or maybe it is magic.

Although Clara passed over 20 years ago, each year at holiday time there is joy in knowing people are making, sharing and enjoying her cookies.

A couple of tips I learned over the years… while creaming the butter and sugar beat WELL until very light and fluffy, and beat WELL after the addition of each of the 5 eggs, take your time on this step… and never forget to add the secret, and most important ingredient – LOVE.

Mrs. Burke’s Christmas Cookies

6 cups of flour

1lb. butter

1 lb. (4 cups unsifted) 10x sugar

5 eggs

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each egg addition.

Add vanilla and beat well.

Mix flour, salt, baking powder. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture, combine well.

Refrigerate overnight.

Divide dough into 4-5 workable pieces. Roll out lightly on well floured surface to 1/4” thickness, keeping dough well floured as you work with it. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Cookies need ample space between them to expand.

Bake 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Cookies will rise and are done baking when just slightly browned on bottom and light and fluffy on top.


6 cups 10x Sugar

1 stick of butter

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Heavy Cream

Beat first 4 ingredients together. Add heavy cream a tablespoon at a time until you achieve frosting consistency.

Makes dozens and dozens of cookies depending on size of cookie cutter you use.