Picture of by K. L. Small local author and member of the Citrus Writers of Florida

Grandma’s December Cookies

by K. L. Small

Sitting at her kitchen table, Vickie flipped the calendar page and studied the photograph for December—a plate of sugar cookies and a mug of hot chocolate set on a fireplace hearth. The picture reminded her of making cookies with her mother. Every year, they had spent hours together making Grandma’s December Cookies.

The memory of the light, flaky pastry dusted with confectionary sugar made her mouth water and sent her to the pantry, looking for the little box of handwritten recipe cards she had inherited from her late mother. Vickie flipped through the cards until she found the most worn one in the collection.

Removing the card, Vickie smiled at her mother’s neatly printed handwriting. The words “Grandma’s December Cookies” were written in large letters across the top of the card. Splatters from past use stained the paper and made some ingredients and measurements illegible. On the back of the card, she recognized her childish handwriting from long ago. She struggled to read her words and decided it must be “Angel Wings.”

Determined to recreate the tasty cookies, Vickie scanned the ingredients and deciphered the faded letters as best she could. One item at a time, she listed what she needed.

“Flour, eggs, salt, butter. I have all of those.” She squinted at two especially stained lines. “That must be powdered sugar, but I’m not sure what this other thing is.”

Vickie reached for her phone and called her older sister. “Pam, do you remember those cookies we made with Mom every December?”

“Sure. Those were the ones with the strange Polish name. We always called them—”

Vickie interrupted her. “Grandma’s December Cookies.”

“Or Angel Wings,” Pam added.

They laughed together. Then Vickie asked, “Do you remember the ingredients?”

“How would I know? You got all Mom’s recipe cards.”

“I have the card,” Vickie said, “but I can’t make out one of the words. It looks like it ends with the letters UM.”

Pam was silent for a few minutes. “Maybe Mom added rum. I kind of remember her giggling when she added a spoonful of something brown. She always said, ‘One for the bowl and one for the cook.’ Maybe that’s why she was in such a good mood.”

Vickie studied the worn card. “That could be it.”

“Why don’t you search online for the recipe?” Pam suggested.

“I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll give it a try.”

As soon as Vickie ended the call, she typed “Polish cookie” and “Angel Wings” into the search box. “Chrusciki” appeared on the screen with a picture of the pastry Vickie remembered. Seeing the word brought back stories her mom had shared about her Polish mother.

Blinking back tears at the thought of her late mother, Vickie scrolled through the various recipes listed online. Some included sour cream, vanilla, brandy, or whiskey. Her mother had never used any of those items in her cookies.

The only ingredient listed on the card that Vickie did not have in her kitchen was the rum. So, she headed to the liquor store. She located the bottles of rum on the shelf and was shocked at the price. “I only need a tablespoon for a recipe,” she told the clerk.

He pulled a tiny bottle from behind the check-out counter. “You want a single size like they have on airplanes.”

“That’ll work!” Vickie left, clutching the tiny bottle.

After returning from the liquor store, she gathered all the ingredients and made her first batch of dough. She kneaded and rolled it flat. With fond memories of her mother, she cut the dough into strips the way she had done so many times in the past. Her fingers wove the strips into the final shape. She dropped the pieces into the hot oil and waited for them to turn golden brown. It took much longer than in the past. When she removed them from the pan, they didn’t look like she remembered. They were fat and soggy.

Disappointed, she called Pam again. “What did I do wrong? They’re awful and it took forever to cook them.”

Her sister laughed. “You didn’t roll the dough thin enough. Our arms ached from using the rolling pin over and over again.”

“I forgot about that. We used to complain about how much work it was.”

“But they tasted so good,” Pam said.

Vickie agreed. “They melted in my mouth. I couldn’t stop eating them.”

“You’re making me hungry. I need to eat something sweet now.”

“Wait,” Vickie said urgently. “Why did they take so long to cook?”

“You probably forgot how hot the oil needs to be. If the temperature wasn’t high enough, you cooked them longer, which is why they got soggy.”

Vickie rolled her eyes. “I’ll have to try making them again.”

Her second batch turned out much better. She rolled the dough until it was paper thin and heated the oil to a higher temperature. After the cookies cooled, she dusted them with powdered sugar. Eagerly, she bit into one of the sweet treats. She closed her eyes and savored the taste. It was as good as she remembered.

The cookies were so popular with her family and friends that she made many more batches during the entire month of December. Everyone wanted her recipe. She carefully rewrote the recipe from the card and gladly shared it with everyone who wanted it. Even though she learned the cookie’s Polish name, Vickie always called them Grandma’s December Cookies.


(Chrusciki or Angel Wings)


4 egg yolks

1 whole egg

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup powdered sugar

½ cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon rum

2 cups flour


Beat eggs until thick. Add sugar, salt, rum, and butter. Continue beating.

Fold in flour and knead until silky.

Roll dough very thin.

Cut into 2-inch x 4-inch strips.

Cut a slit in the center of the strip and turn one end through the slit.

Fry in deep hot fat until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels.

Dust with powdered sugar.

Please follow and like us:
submit to reddit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *