I just love this recipe for these retro cookies called Santa’s Whiskers. I can’t claim that these cookies hold dear, childhood memories for me, because I’ve only recently discovered them.
Apparently, this is a well-loved, Christmastime cookie and truth-be-told I’d never even heard of these little gems before a few weeks ago! Oddly enough, I’ve had this classic recipe sitting and waiting on the pages of two of my favorite cookbooks for years now and I’ve never noticed it before. Seriously, I thumb through the pages of both said collections regularly. Weird.
The first time I saw the recipe titled “Santa’s Whiskers” was in the cookie section of an old Better Homes and Garden cookbook, (not very long ago!) and I remember reading it out loud and commenting that it was an interesting name for a cookie. Shortly after that, I came across the recipe again in an old family collection of hand-written recipe cards and it was then I finally stopped to read the ingredients. I thought they sounded like some merry and bright little cookies and I could hardly wait to make them!
The recipe base is a classic vanilla sugar cookie dough, but it’s festively decorated by folding in some sparkly, glass-like candied cherries, chopped pecans and then it’s rolled in sweetened coconut (a.k.a. the “whiskers” part of this recipe).
Since this old recipe was new to me, I looked around the web out of curiosity and I was hoping to find some more history about it. I didn’t find any more information, but came across several other random posts with a few versions of the recipe. However, you all should know by now that I tend to fall in love with old-timey things and I just had to put this one in my cookie recipe collection here on my page too.
As I made the cookies for the first time, referring to both versions I had on-hand, I found the dough to be extremely dry and crumbly and it was not coming together for me. So, drawing on years of personal sugar cookie-making experience, I added one large, beaten egg to the batter and the problem was solved. These colorful sugar cookies came out beautifully.
So, here is my very slightly adapted version of a vintage recipe for a simple, fun, and really pretty holiday cookie… and I shouldn’t forget to mention that they are pretty yummy too!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 1 to 24 hours
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
- 3/4 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons of each red and green candied cherries (or 3/4 cup of one color of candied cherries), finely chopped
- 1/3 cup of pecans. very finely chopped
- 3/4 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut
Note: candied cherries should be available in the baking aisle of your super market. Don’t sub maraschino cherries, they are not the same thing
1. Spread the shredded coconut out evenly onto a plate and set the plate aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and a handheld mixer) beat butter for one minute and then add in the sugar. Beat until butter and sugar are well-combined (for about 2 minutes), scraping the side of the bowl.
2. Add in the milk. egg and vanilla and stir until combined. Add in the the flour, one cup at a time. Mix until the batter is just combined.
3. Fold in chopped cherries and pecans. Split dough into two portions and shape into two 8-inch-long rolls of dough. Roll the logs of cookie dough in the shredded coconut until the sides are well-covered. Wrap the rolls of cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before slicing and baking.
4. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut cookie dough into 1/3-inch thick slices and place them one inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the sides golden brown.
5. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool. Serve with milk, coffee or tea and enjoy!