Three Cookie Recipes Connecting Families and Generations

We just celebrated three major events this past weekend in Chicago with my family. The birth of my nephew Bernie, my dad’s 70th Birthday, and the baby naming of my niece Maeve. For me, these gatherings are always a way to bring together past and present and as with most Jewish celebrations involve spreads of delicious food. There are a few family cookie recipes that I always associate with these family celebrations. They originate from grandmothers on both my mom and dad’s side. They’re the kinds of cookies that you were guaranteed to find in my grandmothers’ freezers, always ready for unexpected visitors. In thinking about this weekend and the celebrations, I couldn’t imagine our gatherings without these family recipes represented at the table.

My niece Maeve is fortunate enough to have four living great grandparents, one set who was able to travel to Chicago this weekend for her naming. In preparation for the weekend, I reached out to her great-grandma Carole to see if there was a special family recipe she wanted me to bake for the event. She immediately wrote back and included a photo of a recipe from her grandmother’s Rumford Cookbook from the 1930s (pictured below). It was a cookie she remembered her own mother baking and I was thrilled to include it in our family’s celebration.

About a week before I left for Chicago, I happily started baking and freezing the three different family recipes. I filled an entire duffle bag of cookies to bring with us to Chicago along with printed recipe cards of all the cookies and the stories behind them to give out as favors at the baby naming. These sacred family recipes connect multiple generations and families together and are guaranteed to be a part of many future celebrations. I hope you enjoy!

Grandma Syl Cookies 
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnut pieces
Ingredients for Caramel:
1 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup (or more) chocolate chips

Directions:
Mix first 3 ingredients until fine particles. Spread in bottom of a greased 9×3 lined with parchment paper. Spread nuts over 1stmixture. Heat butter and sugar for caramel until thickened. Spread caramel over nuts. Bake in 350 oven 18 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread chocolate chips on top. Cool. Cut into squares.

Grandma Mitzi’s Thin Mandel Bread
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups pecan halves

Directions:
Stage 1. Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, then sifted dry ingredients, finally add nuts. Mix thoroughly until combined. Spray foil pans (8×3 ¾ x 2 ½) with Pam and divide batter evenly. Bake at 350 for 35 min. Invert on rack to cool. Cover with foil and freeze. Stage 2: When ready to serve, remove from freezer and while frozen, slice thing with serrated knife. Brown on cookie sheet at 400 6-8 minutes. 

Grandma Maude’s Kermit Cookies
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
3 cups flour
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 lb raisins
1 lb walnuts

Directions
Mix first 3 ingredients until fine particles. Spread in bottom of a greased 9×3 lined with parchment paper. Spread nuts over 1stmixture. Heat butter and sugar for caramel until thickened. Spread caramel over nuts. Bake in 350 oven 18 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread chocolate chips on top. Cool. Cut into squares. Grandma Maude’s Kermit Cookies

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