I Made My Great Aunt’s Holiday Cookies—Here’s What Happened

I'm not much of a baker, but I rolled up my sleeves and attempted this family recipe for "melt-in-your-mouth" chocolate lace cookies.

At my wedding shower two summers ago, I received the most touching gift: A box filled with timeless family recipes that my relatives and friends lovingly contributed. There was a card with my Aunt Sue’s pierogi recipe, one for my Great Grandma’s sweet and sour meatballs, and one for a recipe I’d never heard of before: my Great Aunt Bert’s “melt-in-your-mouth” lace cookies.

Despite my best intentions, I haven’t made many of the recipes yet (except for my friend Amrita’s delicious aloo gobi, now on regular rotation). But on a recent Friday afternoon, I fired up the oven and gave Aunt Bert’s cookies a try.

My Great Aunt Bert’s Lace Cookies

Whipping up a batch of cookies might sound simple enough, but you have to know: I’m not usually much of a baker. I’d never even heard of this type of cookie before.

For anyone else who’s in the dark: Lace cookies are thin, delicate, treats that naturally have little holes, giving them a lace-like appearance. Crisp, buttery and somewhat chewy, they’re often made with ground or chopped nuts, and are typically sandwiched together with melted chocolate.

My aunt’s recipe is very similar to this Chocolate Lace Cookies recipe. Her son Dan (my mom’s cousin) says he remembers her making them on special occasions and that they never lasted long. Here’s how to make them, including tips I learned along the way.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 heaping tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3/4 cup ground pecans
  • Melted chocolate chips

Directions

Here are the recipe’s directions, verbatim: “Heat all but the pecans and chocolate until butter is melted. Stir in pecans. Drop by small spoon on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Sandwich two cookies together using the melted chocolate.”

Since this isn’t incredibly specific, I had to do some interpreting. On my first try, the cookies spread in the oven until they were practically one big blob. So I made the recipe again, making small adjustments based on my own judgement and these tips for preventing cookies from spreading.

Step 1: Heat the ingredients to combine

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The recipe didn’t say how to heat the ingredients, but I figured I should combine them in a saucepan—I did so on medium-low heat, adding the butter and wet ingredients first before stirring in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.

I wasn’t exactly sure what a “heaping tablespoon” meant for the flour, so I followed our Test Kitchen’s advice for how to measure flour by volume, except I didn’t level off the tablespoon. I used a food processor to grind the pecans.

The combined mixture was somewhat runny, with excess melted butter pooling along the sides. I thickened the batter a bit by gradually sprinkling in extra flour and ground pecans.

Step 2: Bake the cookies

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On my first attempt, I scooped somewhat generous teaspoons of batter onto a baking sheet and baked the cookies for about 9 minutes. They were a little crispy, browning around the edges and—as I mentioned—spread completely across the pan. (Here are other common baking problems and how to fix them.)

I adjusted by scooping even smaller balls of dough (a small teaspoon) onto the baking sheet and spacing them 3 to 4 inches apart, which meant I only baked six cookies per batch. I also baked the cookies for about 7 minutes instead—until the centers still looked gooey but the edges were just started to get golden.

Step 3: Assemble the cookies

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After removing the cookies from the oven, I let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. But forewarning: These cookies are extremely delicate! They easily crumble at the touch, so handle them carefully.

Once they were completely cooled, I melted chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate was completely smooth. (Here are other ways to melt chocolate.) Then I used a spoon to spread a small amount of chocolate onto a cookie and sandwich it with another cookie on top.

It was helpful to keep the cookies on the wire rack while spreading the chocolate onto them. I also found that if I used too much chocolate, it seeped through the cookies’ holes. After assembling the cookies, I put them in the fridge until the chocolate set.

The Verdict

I happened to make these cookies during Hanukah, so I brought them to a small holiday gathering with my immediate family. (Lace cookies aren’t necessarily a traditional Hanukkah food, but they felt appropriate—especially because they resemble latkes.)

My mom was excited to try a new recipe from her side of my family and my dad—who doesn’t normally have much of a sweet tooth—loved nibbling on them with coffee and tea.

Overall, these cookies turned out well. However, they were pretty time intensive to make, since I was only baking six at a time and each requires two cookies sandwiched together. (Although once I got a system down, it went smoothly.) These cookies weren’t enough of a hit that I’ll be making them regularly, but I recommend them for anyone who wants to bake something new—especially if you have a penchant for vintage cookie recipes.

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Teddy Nykiel
Teddy is an associate digital editor at Taste of Home specializing in SEO strategy. As a home cook herself, she loves finding inspiration at the farmer's market. She also enjoys doing any sport that involves water and taking long walks with her black lab mix, Berkeley.