Sweet Nostalgia: Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book (1963)
Well, not the one photographed here. That primordial one would still be with my mom (Grey Goose & Diet Tonic, Lime). Egg white-warped and vanilla stained from decades of use, it’s still shelved in her tidy Louisville kitchen. But GG&DTL did go on eBay a few years ago and find vintage editions for my brother, sister, and I as Christmas gifts a few years ago. Yup, my mom’s pretty awesome like that.
In fact, the first recipe I remember truly and epically failing was from this cookbook: lemon bars. When you are 8 years old semi-confidently baking on your own and use 1 Tablespoon of salt rather than 1 teaspoon, you will never forget the resulting humbling yuck. And the sibling smack talk.
Long ago I decided that if I’m going to bake, I’m going to go with some known results, and for that, my friends, Betty Crocker’s got your back. Every. Damn. Time (excepting for user error). I’ve found a handful of tried-and-true cookie recipes from this magnificent pastry compendium. After all, it’s sub-titled “A Complete Collection – for All Occasions, for Every Taste.”
The only things I’ve modified from the original 1963 publication are that I always use unsalted sweet cream butter (rather than the margarine/shortening, or as my grandma Beefeater &Tonic calls it, “oleo”), and I often use a pinch less sugar and a pinch more salt than the recipes call for to adapt for the butter shift.
If your mom hasn’t already sent you a copy, go and find one for yourself. You will be the hit of the next mid-century modern cocktail party in the desert category. Unless some talented wombat one-ups you with a Baked Alaska. This has happened to me. Sigh.
For the beery brunch the bev-blogger Hoss on Hops and I recently collaborated on, these Buttery Mint cookies were perfect for serving with a chocolaty stout.
Butter-Mint “Meltaway” Cookies (makes about 4 dozen)
I make a triple-batch of these every time*Adapted from Betty Crocker’s 1963 edition Cooky Book
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup powdered sugar (plus additional for dusting)
1 tsp. peppermint extract
½ tsp. (or more) green food coloring
2 ¼ cups cake flour
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar, mix until combined and fluffy. With the beaters going, add peppermint extract and food coloring a drop or two at a time (it will splatter!). Sift together flour and salt, and then add to the butter mixture ½ cup or so at a time.
Mold the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls (a great kid project). Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 8 minutes- until set but not brown. While still warm, dip and roll in more confectioners’ sugar to coat.
*These freeze really well to keep on hand for cookie entertaining emergencies. Like hosting an impromptu beer party on a Sunday morning, for instance.