Starlight Sugar Crisps (aka, twist cookies)

The phrase “oldie but goodie” was coined for these cookies.

Starlight Sugar Crisps |

These lovely little things come from a 1950’s edition of Pillsbury’s Best Butter Cookies. Their official title is “Starlight Sugar Crisps,” but in my family we’ve always called them “the twist cookies” in hushed, reverent tones.

Every year my grandma would make these for Christmas. They were so hard to come by that I distinctly remember hording a container to myself one year. I scarfed down so many that I gave myself a stomachache and didn’t get to go swimming in the pool with everyone else.

Starlight Sugar Crisps |

My family had rented a bunch of rooms at a hotel in Wisconsin Dells (the water park capital of the world, you know!). Our family is pretty big and staying in a hotel meant there would be enough beds for everyone and we wouldn’t have to clean up the next morning. In fact, on my mom’s side of the family we used to do this every year so that all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents could get together under one very large roof to eat, drink, and be merry. Anyone else’s family do that?

Starlight Sugar Crisps |

Or are we just particularly raucous?

Now, sadly, we don’t do that hotel thing on Christmas. The cousins are grown and the family has spread out (hello, I’m in South Carolina). These cookies are still a tradition, but now they’re my tradition. My grandma entrusted me with her photocopied recipe of these cookies a few years ago and ever since then, they’ve been my responsibility. And my brother’s stomach ache when he’s the one hoarding a container and eating too many.

Starlight Sugar Crisps |

Do I need a more ringing endorsement?

Starlight Sugar Crisps

(makes roughly 60 cookies, adapted from Pillsbury’s Best Butter Cookies, Vol. 2)

1 pkg. active dry yeast

¼ cup very warm water

3 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup sour cream

3 tsp. vanilla extract, divided

1 cup sugar

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Set aside.

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. On low speed, cut in butter until no sizes larger than small peas remain.

Add eggs, sour cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and activated yeast to the bowl. Mix until a stick dough forms. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Combine the sugar and remaining vanilla.

Cut the dough disk in half. Sprinkle work surface with the vanilla sugar mixture and begin rolling half of the dough in an 8×16 rectangle. Fold dough over three times, sprinkling sugar on the dough each time. Roll once more into an 8×16 rectangle. Cut into 32 4×1 strips. Repeat the process with second half of the dough.

Twist cookies and place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to cooling rack.

Store cookies in an airtight container for no more than two days.

Starlight Sugar Crisps |

4 thoughts on “Starlight Sugar Crisps (aka, twist cookies)

  1. My mom made these starlight sugar crisps every year, too. We grew up on a dairy farm on the Green Lake /Columbia County line in Wisconsin.. My mom used colored sugar between the layers to give the cookies some color. I have three brothers, and we all fought for the last one of these great holiday cookies. It is now my responsibility to keep the tradition going. We always used to gather at a relatives house, but this year we are renting a cottage on Fox Lake, Wisconsin at Hayes Resort.

    I’ll send you a picture of the plate of the cookies, before they are devoured. Merry Christmas!

    • Holy Small World, DeAnna! I’m from Green Lake County! Just moved back, in fact! And I will be making these twist cookies for my grandma this year, as I’m finally home to do so! Love the idea of colored sugar! Hope they turn out beautifully for you!

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