It’s a 1901 Christmas: A Cookie Recipe from the Past

YAAY! It’s December! In case you were wondering, Christmas is my FAVORITE holiday and I take my love of the Christmas season to near fan-boy/girl status. How can you tell if you meet my level of Christmas zeal?

Have you already single-handedly blanketed your house (inside & out) with Yuletide decoration, including at least one of each in the following categories:

  • Lights
  • Christmas scented candle(s)
  • Stocking
  • Christmas crafts you made in the 2nd grade
  • Outside solar decorations (that don’t work because your house never actually gets full sunlight)
  • A stack of Christmas movies you plan to watch
  • Actual miseltoe and/or holly

Bonus Categories:

  • Has your Christmas cheer caused members of your family and friends to want to strangle you?
  • Have you locked your radio/computer/iPod/music playing device to 24hr Christmas songs?

If you answered “Yes” to 3 or more of the following, then we’re Christmas Freak Soul Sisters/Brothers. And if that’s the case, then you’re worthy of my most treasured vegan recipe….my great-great grandmother’s Christmas cookie recipe.

In all seriousness, this is a very special recipe to my family. In 1901 my great-great-grandmother landed on Ellis Island from Copenhagen, Denmark with her daughter (my great-grandmother “Gammy”) and all of their worldly possessions in two steamer trunks. In one of those trunks was this recipe. There were no measurements, just a list of ingredients. She had the measurements in her head… translated to her fingers in just the right amounts.

She lovingly passed her cookie recipe on to my Gammy (my great-grandmother) and my grandmother Dee observed her enough times to transcribe the recipe (with measurements!) in pen and ink. Over the years every Christmas my Gammy would bake a batch of these cookies and send them to every member of our family no matter how far away they lived. Somewhere along the line we began calling Gammy’s cookies “Cocoon Cookies” because of their rolled oblong shape (like a cocoon)… so crafty we are ;). I don’t know if my great-great-grandmother got the recipe from her mother or where/who/what the original source the recipe was, but its been in our family for at least 111 years. Longer, in fact, because who knows how long my great-great-grandmother had it?

When my Gammy died, the tradition of the Cocoon Cookie died with her. Three years ago I decided to track down that recipe and revive the Cocoon! I baked Cocoons for everyone in my thankfully small family (good thing we’re not much on procreating) and last year I veganized the recipe! …no one could tell the difference.

*Note* My family hails from Denmark, my Gammy ate whole milk and butter and cream daily and my other Grandma Virginia taught me how to fill every square of a waffle full with butter. I used to say that I could never go vegan because butter was written into my DNA!!! Butter runs though my veins!!!!! BUTTER4LIFE!!!!! … you get the idea.

So if you’re that person who’s saying they could never give up _____________, just note that every vegan on earth has said those same words at some point. Yet here we all are, living happily vegan.

*Second Note* Earth Balance Butter is indistinguishable from the “real thing” in case anyone was wondering how I get my butter fix….and yes, I still fill up every square of my vegan waffle with v-butter. See? I haven’t changed that much 🙂

I’m proud to continue the Cocoon tradition and even prouder to share it with all of you.

Do you have a Christmas tradition or recipe that you’d like to share? Please share it in the comments! Did you bake Cocoons for your family? Please let me know!

Cocoon Cookies


1/2 Cup Earth Balance Butter

A little less than 1/2  Cup Non-hydrogenated Shortening

2 Cups Flour

5 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar + more for rolling the cookies in later

1 Tablespoon Water

2 Teaspoons Vanilla

1 C Chopped Walnuts

Pinch of Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer.
  3. Add vanilla, flour (sifted with salt), water and chopped walnuts.
  4. Roll an overflowing tablespoon of dough between your palms into the shape of a cocoon.
  5. Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven) until cookies are golden brown. They won’t rise much, just keep an eye on them and remove then they’re golden.
  6. While the cookies are baking, pour powdered sugar into a bowl or pan for rolling.
  7. After baking, allow the cookies to cool just slightly and then roll each one in powdered sugar.
  8. That’s it! Eat them! Enjoy them! Send them to loved ones! The end result should taste like the love-child of a Mexican Wedding Cookie & a Danish Shortbread Cookie.

I’ll post pictures as soon as I bake them myself this year!

5 thoughts on “It’s a 1901 Christmas: A Cookie Recipe from the Past

  1. Oh, my Danish blood is loving this post! I just started my Christmas baking this morning at 4:30 am with a pan of gluten free vegan chocolate peppermint brownies!
    This is my first Christmas of making bulk quantities of Christmas goodies that I can actually eat! Thanks for the well proven recipe!

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