Great-Great-Grandma McCracken's Sugar Cookies

November 28, 2016
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This recipe was given to me by my grandma Jeanne—though it originally belonged to her grandma (so my great-great-grandma, Clara). The cookies are perfectly crisp at the edges and chewy in the center. The dough is lightly spiced—but these are not spice cookies! The small addition of baking spices makes the cookies smell and taste warm, the perfect holiday cookie. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

  • Makes about 3 dozen cookies
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
In This Recipe
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg together to combine.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. With the mixer running on low speed, add the milk slowly and mix to combine.
  5. Add the remaining flour and mix until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough into 2-3 pieces, form into discs, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
  6. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut out shapes with a floured cookie cutter (bonus points for a scalloped circle!), and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. The cookies don’t spread, so you can bake them pretty close together.
  8. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden at the edges, 9-11 minutes (if you bake them longer, they get nicely crisp all over, but I like them a little chewy in the center). Cool on racks before serving.

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I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.