Thursday, November 30 2023 10:23

Brandywine Table: A Sweet Bite of Family History

Written by Courtney H. Diener-Stokes

Cherished cookie recipes are perfect for gift giving over the holidays

A gift of homemade cookies is one of my favorite things to receive during the holidays. Mostly, these holiday recipes have history and tradition, and so are made with careful thought, consideration and extra love. Some cookies I’ve received over the years have stood out among the rest, whether for taste, technique, presentation or the story that’s behind them, which often spans generations.

Diane McCormick, a prolific home baker, taught me a trick to having cookie recipients fully appreciate a gift of cookies during the busy holidays: be the first one to give them out the week immediately following Thanksgiving. It’s a time when anticipation for the holidays is high and people aren’t already burned out on cookie consumption.

When I first bit into McCormick’s signature extra thin and crispy cutout sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars, it was clear there was deeper meaning behind them. Turns out McCormick is the third generation to make this recipe, and her grandchildren, who help her make them today, represent the fifth.

McCormick was just five years old the first time she helped her grandmother make her treasured sugar cookie recipe. “It was always a family get-together with my mom, my aunt and my grandmother,” McCormick says. She recalled getting her first turn at rolling out, cutting and sugaring the cookies. Through watching over the years, she was instructed on the special technique of rolling the dough out extra thin.

Diane McCormick’s grandchildren making sugar cookies

Now, 77 years later, McCormick has passed on the same tradition and technique to her own children, Dawn and James, and now her grandchildren. “I’m happy to see that the tradition means a great deal to them, especially my granddaughter, Kylie, and my grandsons, Ryan and Connor, who come by and do their share when they’re on Thanksgiving break from college.”

On the weekend following Thanksgiving, McCormick’s home is the location for ‘Cookie Day,’ where they gather and set out to make dozens upon dozens of sugar cookies before dividing them up into perfect piles, sealing them in plastic containers or tins and then gently placing them into decorative gift bags. As soon as four days after Thanksgiving, they begin delivering the cookies to friends, family, co-workers, teachers and schoolmates.

Please read on for McCormick’s beloved sugar cookie recipe, along with some other special recipes shared by Chester County residents who’ve also found that cookies make the perfect gift for friends and family. Happy Holiday Baking!

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