Aunt Hattie’s Cookies

Valentine’s Day rolls around, and no surprise – I don’t even really notice. Valentine’s Day, in my universe, consists of me buying things for other people, or rationalizing why it’s a made-up holiday – a Hallmark holiday – thus justifying for someone else why there will be no dinner, no flowers, no whatever.

Except of course if you think about it, every holiday really is made up in some way, and that fact doesn’t make Christmas gifts any less appreciated.

For The Child, though, it’s different. She’s still in school, and although her classmates are no longer exchanging Spongebob Valentines, they still do things. She still wants to do things for everyone in her class – meaning her grade level. Which means she has 36 Valentine things to produce.

We decide on heart-shaped cookies, and go to the store and buy a heart-shaped cutter and some gift bags.

I have an old recipe that I’ve never made, that was passed by my great-great Aunt Hattie to my great-Aunt Kate and from her to me, with promises that it was the best sugar cookie recipe I’d ever make. I’ve been meaning to make those cookies for ages. Both my Aunts have passed and I think of them often and with love, and probably for that reason no occasion has seemed special enough to try out those cookies.

But we needed a sugar cookie recipe to make heart-shaped cookies, so I decided we’d try Aunt Hattie’s recipe. I had visions of us rolling out the dough and cutting heart shapes, but when we got home with our new cookie cutter and actually looked at the recipe,  it turned out it wasn’t that kind of cookie at all.

Roll it into balls, read the instructions, then roll the balls in sugar.

Since by now I had my heart set on finally making these cookies, The Child and I agreed not to lay aside the recipe, but instead, to lay aside the new cookie cutter. I mixed the dough, and she rolled the little balls in coarse confetti-colored sugar.


They were wonderful straight out of the oven – sweet and chewy and mellow from the corn syrup, with a pleasing bit of crunch from the sugar. They looked pretty in the little cellophane gift bags tied with a red ribbon, all by themselves.

And though most of them were gone – distributed quickly to classmates, there were a few leftovers for me to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.


Aunt Hattie's Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup white Karo Syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Mix dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients until blended. Add dry ingredients.
  5. Roll pieces of dough into balls about the size of a cherry.
  6. Roll the balls of dough in sugar.
  7. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, cool on racks.



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