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1939 Christmas Cookies Booklet: Wisconsin Electric Power Co.

I have a sizable tried-and-true cookie recipe file, but I am always eager to discover new ones. Who doesn't love cookies?

Cropped portion of the cover of this 1939 Christmas cookies booklet

Cropped portion of the cover of this 1939 Christmas cookies booklet

Treasure Trove of Vintage Recipes

This Christmas cookies booklet from the home service bureau of the Wisconsin Electric Power Company located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a treasure trove containing 166 recipes.

The date is November of 1939, and it is the 4th edition with a run of 75,000.

The first cookie recipe booklet from the power company promoting the use of electric appliances was in 1928. The holiday tradition of producing them went on for many decades. There was a hiatus after 1974, but today that holiday tradition continues. These early booklets are now in high demand on sites like Amazon, eBay, and other online sources.

My grandmother first tried some of the recipes. There are some check marks and notes made on some of the pages. Someone even did some elementary arithmetic on the cover of this booklet! Therefore, it is not in pristine shape, yet it is still a treasure to me.

I decided to try five recipes out of this booklet. My mother always used to make anise drops and pinwheel cookies as a part of her Christmas cookie assortment when I was a child. Did they originate from the recipes in this 1939 booklet? That I cannot answer. But for those reasons, those two cookies were on my list of ones to try.

Here is a listing of the recipes you will learn about in this article. The first two are under the category of drop cookies, and the last three are under the category of rolled cookies.

  1. Anise Puff Drops
  2. Norwegian Cookies
  3. Berliner Kranser Cookies
  4. Pin Wheels Cookies
  5. German Cookies

1. Anise Puff Drops

As usual, I shared all of these cookies with some of our neighbors, and these tasty anise cookies topped the favorites list for several of them. The licorice flavor of anise seed is distinct. Anyone who enjoys eating licorice should like these small delicious cookies.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon anise seed

Instructions

  1. Beat the eggs until light and frothy.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, and continue beating until well-blended.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder. Add the anise seed to the flour mixture.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture. Beat for 2 minutes. If beating by hand, double the time.
  5. Drop by 1/2 teaspoons, 1 inch apart, onto greased cookie sheets.
  6. Let stand overnight at room temperature to dry.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 9 to 10 minutes.
  8. Makes 10 1/2 dozen cookies

The printed recipe says it makes only three dozen. My results in following the recipe were more than triple that number!

Norwegian cookies

Norwegian cookies

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2. Norwegian Cookies

The Norwegian cookie made my husband's favorite choice of the five cookies baked and tested. It was also near the top rating of our neighbors who are a part of our voluntary taste test panel of judges. The spice components of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are always aromatic and flavorful, whether in cookies, cakes, or other recipes.

The measurements were a bit unusual with all of the one-third teaspoon measurements. I estimated as best I could to make them all even and accurate.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Cream the room-temperature butter. Add the sugar and egg. Beat until well-blended and fluffy.
  2. Sift the flour, spices, and baking soda and combine with the first mixture.
  3. Add the raisins and chopped nuts.
  4. Drop by half teaspoonfuls, two inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake from 10 to 12 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until browned and crispy around the edges.
  6. The recipe makes about three dozen cookies.
Berliner kranser cookies

Berliner kranser cookies

3. Berliner Kranser Cookies

As it is not currently the Christmas season, I decided to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter design plus other non-Christmas themes when making these cookies. It is fun to use different configurations when making an assortment of rolled cookies.

It, and the German cookies recipe, required hard-cooked egg yolks as ingredients. I've never previously seen that as an ingredient in a cookie recipe, and it made me eager to try it. The Berliner Kranser is not an overly sweet cookie, but one that goes well with a cup of tea, according to a comment by one of our neighbors who enjoys her afternoon cup of tea.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
  • 4 cooked egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 4 cups bread flour, sifted

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter, then add the sugar and mix them well.
  2. Put the cooked egg yolks through a sieve or ricer and add to the creamed mixture with the beaten raw yolks.
  3. Add the cream alternately with the sifted flour.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut with your choice of cookie-cutter design.
  5. Bake in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. This recipe makes about four dozen large cookies or more, depending upon the size of the cookie-cutter employed.
Pin wheels cookies

Pin wheels cookies

4. Pin Wheels Cookies

When making this recipe, it instantly transported me back to memories of my childhood days. My mother would be busy making her Christmas assortment of cookies to serve family and friends. Many of the cookies ended up in our school lunch boxes. Pinwheel cookies were always a part of the mix.

My brothers and I would also see the plate of cookies and glass of milk set out on the kitchen table to reward Santa when he would stop by to leave presents under the Christmas tree. As much as we tried to stay awake, we never caught him in the act of leaving gifts. Every morning that glass was empty, and the plate of cookies only had a few remaining crumbs. Such sweet memories!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate, melted

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter, then add the sugar, mixing it well. Beat in the egg yolk.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients, and add them alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture. Add the vanilla and blend well.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Add the melted chocolate to one of the portions blending it well.
  4. Roll out both portions thin placing one on top of the other. Roll like a jelly roll and place in the refrigerator overnight to chill. (I found it easier to make two rolls instead of one larger one).
  5. Slice the rolls thin and place them onto a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 8 to 9 minutes.
  7. Makes from 3 to 4 dozen cookies depending upon the size of the roll and thickness of the slices.

5. German Cookies

Since I have a good portion of German plus Norwegian heritage, perhaps you can understand why these two cookie recipes caught my attention. Similar to the Berliner Kranser cookies, the German ones are not overly sweet.

In this case, I did use a small star-shaped cookie cutter and decorated them with red and green sanding sugar sprinkles. The recipe says that it makes about three dozen cookies. Due to the size of my cookie-cutter, it made in excess of 100.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 hard-cooked egg yolks, riced
  • 1 raw egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups bread flour

Instructions

  1. Beat butter, sugar, cooked, and raw egg yolks together for about 1/2 hour. (The recipe says to double the time if beaten by hand). If you own a stand mixer, this is an excellent time to use it!
  2. Add the lemon juice and flour, blending well.
  3. Chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Roll the dough thin and cut with a cookie cutter.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven.
Plate with the mixture of five different kinds of cookies

Plate with the mixture of five different kinds of cookies

Source

We Energies: Regarding the Holiday Tradition of Cookie Books

© 2022 Peggy Woods

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