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Aunt Eva’s Cookies

March 26, 2021
Photo: Cole SmothersPhoto: Cole Smothers

My mother, Pearl, never thought of herself as a good cook. But she was—at least when she deftly and caringly made her Aunt Eva’s cookies.

I vaguely remember Aunt Eva, one of my grandmother Martha Gluck’s two sisters, from Thanksgivings as a child. Each year we schlepped the Thanksgiving turkey from our house in suburban New York to my grandparents’ apartment off Central Park, and Aunt Eva brought her famous cookies, made from a thin butter-pastry dough spread with jam or cocoa and cinnamon, then carefully crafted into a jelly roll, baked, and sliced.

Featured in: A Cookie Filled With Sweetness—and Family History

Ingredients

  • 12tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter or coconut oil
  • ½cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2eggs
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1cup apricot preserves or 1/4 cup cocoa and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Yield: 4 loaves or 48 slices

Preparation

  • Step 1

    Using a food processor, electric mixer, or wooden spoon, cream the butter or coconut oil. Add 1/2 cup sugar and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla. Slowly add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Knead the dough well.

  • Step 2

    Form the dough into 4 balls, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

  • Step 3

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.

  • Step 4

    Roll each ball of dough into a flat rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Spread with the apricot preserves or a mixture of cocoa, cinnamon, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Roll jelly-roll fashion. (The easiest method is to flatten the dough on a pastry cloth, then lift the edge of the cloth so that the dough rolls into a long cylinder.)

  • Step 5

    Place 2 of the rolls on the cookie sheet, leaving room between them, as they will spread and flatten out. Repeat with the other 2 rolls on another baking sheet. Bake in batches on the middle rack of the oven. Or bake the 2 sheets on the middle and lower racks, about 20-30 minutes, until golden brown, switching pans halfway through. When cool, slice at an angle at about 1 1/2 inch intervals, making finger-length slices.

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