The phrase “oldie but goodie” was coined for these cookies.
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.
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?
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.
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 8x16 rectangle. Fold dough over three times, sprinkling sugar on the dough each time. Roll once more into an 8x16 rectangle. Cut into 32 4x1 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.