butter cookies

Passover Butter Cookies

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As far as I know, my father's Aunt Fanny didn't have any child named after her, but, in keeping with our Ashkenazi tradition, she does have something that bears her name: the family recipe for butter cookies.

We call them Fannies, because these butter cookies were her creation and somehow calling them Fanny's just didn't seem right to anyone but the English majors in our lives.

I have made these cookies so often I can mix the dough and shape them without even looking at what I'm doing. My kids make them. My grandkids even make them. 

Fannies are the ultimate butter cookie. You need look no further to find a better one.

But of course, not during Passover.

Which got me to thinking that -- this recipe is so good, why not try a Passover version?

After a few tries -- voila!

Thank you Aunt Fanny. I named them after you too.

 

aunt fanny's Passover Butter Cookies -- Passover Fannies

  • 1 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/2 cup ground toasted almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • chocolate chips (about 50) (or use lekvar)

Place the matzo cake meal, ground almonds, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low speed for about a minute until the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the butter and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix for another minute or so until a soft, uniform dough forms. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes or until somewhat chilled and slightly firmer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take small chunks of dough and shape into balls about one-inch in diameter. Flatten the balls in the palm of your hands into disks that are about 1/4-inch thick. Place the flattened balls on ungreased cookie sheets, leaving some space between each cookie (they will spread slightly). Place a chocolate chip in the center of each dough disk (they hold better if you place the chips upside down). Bake for 10-2 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 50.

Note: if you use lekvar, make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie and fill the hollow with a small amount of apricot or prune lekvar 

Our Favorite Cookies

Aunt Fanny's Cookies

Aunt Fanny's Cookies

It wouldn't be my house if there weren't some of these in the freezer for the holidays. During Rosh Hashanah and of course, for my Break-the-Fast. These are my Mom's famous butter cookies. They are probably the most-loved, most-baked cookies in my (and once, my Mom's) repertoire.

When I was growing up I didn't know they were butter cookies because my Mom made them with shortening. After I got interested in cooking I asked her why she called them butter cookies and she explained that during WWII she couldn't get butter, but everyone wanted the cookies, and so -- 

We tried them with real butter and never looked back. Except for when I need something dairy-free, and then, of course, I go back to the shortening. These cookies are fabulous, either way, though, to confess, I like the butter ones much better.

Here they are, fresh from the oven.

In our family we never actually called them butter cookies, not because of the shortening but because the recipe came from my father's Aunt Fanny. So everyone in the family called them Fanny's (recipe), which is scrawled out as "Fannies" in all the old family recipe collections.

I don't know if anyone in my family is named for Aunt Fanny, but these cookies give her kind of the same immortality.

Fannies

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, cut into chunks (or one cup cold shortening)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • lekvar, jam, nut butter, etc.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat them in an electric mixer set at medium speed for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix another 1-2 minutes, or until the ingredients are almost blended. Add the egg yolks, salt and vanilla extract. Mix the ingredients 1-2 minutes, or until a uniform dough forms. Scoop pieces of dough and shape them into balls about 1" in diameter. Flatten the balls between your palms. Press each circle with your thumb to make an indentation in the center. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet, leaving an inch of space between them. Fill the thumb print spaces with a small amount of lekvar, jam, etc. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. You can freeze these cookies for 6 months.

Makes about 60

 

 

Fanny's or Fannies or Just Butter Cookies

 

I will watch the presidential debate tonight. Because I am completely engaged in this election, following it with more than the usual interest. And anyway, I think it is important to listen to what the candidates have to say.

But I think this particular debate is going to be a nail biter. Every word, every gesture, every tic and drop of perspiration, every hanky, every downward look looms large.

Is that because we have stopped listening to what they are really saying and let punditry and distractions influence us?

Is it because we really don’t trust anything any politician says so we are guided by body language?

In any event, as I said, this is going to be a nail biter. Or at least a big munchtime. I’ll probably nibble excessively.

I need popcorn.

And cookies to get me through the night.

These:

Mom’s Butter Cookies

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • jam, preserves or lekvar (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed. When the mixture is well blended, beat in the flour, egg yolks, salt and vanilla extract. Mix until the dough is a uniform color. Take off small pieces of dough and shape them into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Flatten the balls and press the center to make an indentation. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet leaving a small amount of space between each cookie. Fill the indentation with jam, preserves or lekvar. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 60