Christmas Horn Cookies

The recipe came from the “old country” and according to family legend, it was top secret and to be guarded.

We knew them as Christmas Horns, a confection of almonds, flour, eggs, vanilla and sugar.

Right after Thanksgiving, the kitchen would turn into a factory, as the kids helped Mom crank out the dough for these delicacies. And when I say “crank,” I mean it, literally.

Using a hand-grinder that attached with a clamp to the table, we would dump the freshly blanched almonds into the device and turn the handle to pulverize the nuts into a course grain.

This would be added to white wheat flower, and mixed with the butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Once they were baked, they were dusted with powdered sugar, cooled and then placed into every available tin, box or other receptacle we could find.

Then the fun began. Mom would hide the containers in closets and every nook and cranny she could think of, in hopes they would be safe until Christmas time, when she would dole them out as gifts to relatives and neighbors.

Safe they were not. We kids would engage in a nearly month-long hunt to uncover the treasures and then strategically retrieve just one, or two, OK, maybe three cookies from each box, in hopes the deficit would not be noticed by the recipients.

Years after Mom died, the “kids,” then adults with kids of their own, decided to revive the tradition of baking the cookies. We found Mom’s recipe, typed on a 3 by 5 index card.

It was clear from the ingredients that there was no true secret sauce, nor was there really anything all that special about the recipe. In fact, the directions are quite vague, since she apparently had written this from memories of her distant past.

And then, once the age of Google was upon us, it was quite simple to verify that this was a fairly common cookie to make.

Nonetheless, we persist to this day to produce the cookies during the holidays. There’s no need to blanch the almonds or grind the cooked nuts by hand anymore. All these ingredients are readily available.

But the end result, I think, is still the same, as is evident by the rapid rate at which they still disappear.

Here, then, is Mom’s “triple recipe” for horns as she had written it out. I use half the amount of powdered sugar in the baking, and where she used to smother the cookies in the white powder, I lightly dust them. And you might want to start with “half” of the triple recipe. This should provide a couple dozen cookies.

And as for the baking time, just keep an eye on them until you see the edges reaching a golden brown tint. They should be done by then. Give it a try.

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