old-school icebox butter cookies

20180529_1640461480395664.jpgReady for another sweet treat? There is a lovely butter cookie in Great-aunt Helen’s recipe box.

Limited for time this week, I flipped through one of the recipe boxes, looking for something that wouldn’t take much time and would also be enjoyed by everyone in the house. These cookies stood out as simple enough20180529_120926827162661.jpgand even better, they contained nutmeg. Always a fan of this spice, it also has a special Helen connection.

My senior year of college, I remember asking my mom what Helen might like for Christmas. She mentioned that Helen had been asking for a nutmeg grater.

This puzzled me as I had not known such a thing existed. Studying food science had given me plenty of technical knowledge, but there was still plenty to learn. Familiar with nutmeg as a baking spice, I had no idea that it came as a large, whole seed and could be ground down into tiny flakes with an incredibly sweet looking mini cheese grinder.20180529_12101285841770.jpgHow cute. Is. That.

Where I found one, I don’t remember, but find one I did and Helen received it that Christmas. Fast forward more than a decade, my mom purging Helen’s belongings in the interest of downsizing and moving her to a senior living facility. I inherited the nutmeg grater and have cherished it since.

Now knowing that grated fresh nutmeg is far better than the pre-ground powder, I keep a steady supply of bulk-purchase nutmeg seeds and grind what I need whenever I need it.20180529_121032179197565.jpgBack to the recipe, then. One-half teaspoon ground nutmeg was a hefty amount and I was glad to let it shine in these simple butter cookies.20180529_1211011284882348.jpgA look back at the recipe shows that while ingredients are named and quantified, there is no actual making or baking information outside of “Put in icebox. Roll or drop.” How to mix? How to form? Temperature? Time? Plenty unknown here.

Still. The word “icebox” made me smile at its old-school connotation. Iceboxes showed up in the 1930s, and though this recipe was likely more recent (Helen noted in November ’66 that 1/4 cup more flour would be helpful for rolling.), it still uses this retro phrasing. And as we are having a heatwave here, icebox anything sounded divine. I chose to roll the dough, then wrap in plastic wrap before slicing and baking icebox cookie-style.20180529_12142763881174.jpg



A baking temp of 350°F seemed standard enough, and I pulled the cookies after 10 minutes. They could have stood another 2ish minutes baking time, so would make that adjustment next go-round.

The cookies were tasty and though my oldest said, “there’s too much nutmeg,” she went on to eat two. But. I must confess: I completely spaced the 3 tablespoons milk. Had I added it, the dough would have been even more wet, absolutely necessitating that extra 1/4 cup flour.

These cookies are keepers if you like simple20180529_1640461480395664.jpg

20180529_121041877528208.jpgand nutmeg!

Here’s to a wonderful day wherever you are. Please return next week for another round of Cocktail U.


14 thoughts on “old-school icebox butter cookies

  1. I love butter cookies your Aunt Helen had a treasure trove of delicious recipes. It’s amazing how intuitive bakers from yesteryear were. I’ve experienced the same when working with my mothers or other relatives recipes. It’s trial and error, tweaking and fine tuning. What a lovely recipe.

    • Looks like I let a bunch of comments slip when I once again dropped off the face of the blogosphere – my bad, sorry! Trial and error and tweaking indeed. That is a great motto for what we do here 🙂 Hope things go well on your end. Thank you for being here.

    • Love that you use a nutmeg grater, too, Tasty! Makes me feel connected 🙂 It’s a funny little thing, but nutmeg grates so nicely and is so much fun to sprinkle onto things. Everyone should do it. Appreciate you being here. Thank you!

    • No messin’ around, that’s how we like it here 😀 Except when we do mess around and then it is ok. Thank you for coming by!!!!

  2. I do like simple! Both from a taste standpoint and in terms of the actual making of the treat. And I have some nutmegs and a microplane–I could actually make these!

    • You should go for it, Kerry. Let me know how the milk figures in. Three tablespoons is a lot and my dough didn’t miss it. ?? And for sure more than 10 minutes. Nutmeg is dreamy, yes? Thank you for the kind words!

  3. Okay, now I get to be confused. Nutmeg looks like a puh-CAHN, but you’re telling me you just start a’grinding, as if there is no shell bc it is a seed? All I know is that when I grind my coffee at home for guests, they are surprised and I get to feel righteous and superior to their peasant, peon, commoner coffee offerings. So you get major superiority props for grinding your own nutmeg.

    And SHUT UP with that mod spirograph pink cookie sheet liner. Lord in heaven. And I’m with you on the “icebox.” We have that on some restaurant menus around here, and it is lovely and old school. Come to think of it, Threadgill’s (where the drunk whiskeyed Janis Joplin used to howl) sells “chocolate icebox pie.” It does sound so much better than “fridge pie.” The cookies sound very classic and inoffensive. They would not go with my grapefruit vodka at the moment, but perhaps later. Yes.

    • Aw, Kerbey. Love your comments 🙂 The cookie sheet came from the Minnesota State Fair. There’s a booth in the Creative Activities building (!) that always has cool things – have bought a ladle, the cookie sheets, a wine stopper, rubber spatulas – all very cool and retro looking. Never too spendy. https://gir.co/

      Fridge pie – not sure I’d eat it. Kudos on the freshly ground coffee. That’s how it’s done! *you, me, high-fiving now*

  4. Love the 60’s color homage to Great Aunt Helen’s cool cookies. And the ice box phrase does take me back. My dad didn’t start calling it a ‘fridge until the 80’s. Speaking of 80’s I hope it’s not too hot where you are right now.

    Dying to know what you will be pairing these grand dame cookies with.

    • Thank you for catching the blue tray color scheme thing, Tracy! Made me so happy 🙂 We’re in the 80s which ain’t too bad. Are you still on vacay?


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