These cranberry sugar cookies are from my grandmother’s recipe, and they are simply perfect. The softness of the cookie and the slight crunch of the sugar coating make them a delicious classic for Christmas or any time of year.
When I’m looking for ways to simplify in the kitchen, I often think about how my grandmothers used to cook. Neither of them would have been classified as amazing cooks, but they both had a few things they made really, really well, and they made those things often.
Every time my Grandma Ealy came to visit during the holidays, she would bring a huge batch of her famous raisin cookies, which managed to stay perfectly soft for days on end. At other times of the year, she came bearing several loves of the most flavorful and moist zucchini bread on the planet.
My Grams never failed to bake her thin, crisp sand tarts every year at Christmastime, and when we visited her house on Thanksgiving we could count on a pan of peas and mushrooms simmering on the stove, a dandelion salad, and a container of her famous chicken corn soup to take home.
I definitely like to discover and try new recipes, but all of the pressure to continually be changing and updating and impressing just gets to be way too much. When did it become lame make the same recipes again and again, even when they’re delicious and everybody loves them? Instead of memorizing and perfecting a signature dish, we feel obligated to scour magazines and the internet for the prettiest, newest, most show-stopping recipes, and then wonder why we’re so much more stressed out than our grandmothers were.
Well this year, I’m going back to the basics…with just one itty-bitty twist. I made my Grandma’s famous raisin cookies from her original recipe, but instead of using raisins, I swapped in Craisins (any sweetened, dried cranberry will do) to give them a little bit of holiday flair.
The secret to these cookies is simmering the dried cranberries in water so that they become moist and plump before adding them to the cookie batter.
The other secret is using a little Crisco. I know it’s not the healthiest ingredient in the world, but guess what — these are COOKIES! I learned long ago (probably from my grandma) that if you want really soft cookies, then Crisco is the way to go.
I love these cookies because they’re not super decadent or overly sweet, and the sugar coating on the outside gives them a yummy little bit of crunch while keeping the inside really soft. They’re a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea. (I may or may not eat them for breakfast sometimes.)
Plus, these cranberry cookies freeze really, really well. I made this batch about two weeks ago, and we’re still enjoying them from the freezer (they thaw in mere minutes on the countertop).
If you’re looking for a simple, back to basics cookie recipe for the holidays or any time of year, please try out my grandma’s recipe. These cookies might just become your family favorite, too!