Holiday Spice Cookies

Although the holidays are just behind us, we still face a few more winter months. Nothing’s better on these cold days than a warm cup of tea and a nice, spiced cookie. In this spirit, I’d like to share with you my great-great-grandmother’s recipe for Holiday Spice Cookies.

Holiday Spice Cookies

My grandmother, like her mother and her mother’s mother, had a peculiar penchant for lavender. Every day she would pluck a fresh spring from her garden and tuck it into a buttonhole on her yellow knit sweater. She always told us, as children, that her mother did the same; however, her mother’s sweater was more of a chartreuse than a pure yellow. Her mother’s mother had a blue knit sweater, but did the lavender thing all the same. My mother hates lavender and won’t have anything to do with it, so she wears a black cashmere-blend shrug with no buttonhole to adorn. In any case, my great-great-grandmother enjoyed lavender and other aromatic herbs. She experimented with an unusual recipe that resulted in one of the most distinctive spice cookies I’ve ever tasted. The recipe is quite simple and follows:

Cookie ingredients

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 1½ cups baker’s sugar
  • 2¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ ounces food-grade potpourri

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F. Then, into a large mixing bowl, cut the butter into pea-sized pieces. Add the sugar, salt, and baking soda and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and continue to mix until completely blended. Now, slowly sift in the flour, mixing continuously.

Cookie dough

Once all of the flour has been added, continue to stir for about 1 minute until the mixture is smooth. Quickly add the potpourri.

Adding potpourri

Continue mixing until the potpourri is completely integrated. Dough will be lumpy.

Mixing in the potpourri

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Then, spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Spooning cookies

Cook in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly brown.

Putting cookies in oven

While cooking, prepare the glaze by whisking the confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth. Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes and apply the glaze with a pastry brush.

Glazing cookies

Once the glaze has set (about 15 minutes), enjoy with a cup of tea. Or simply place the cookies on saucers throughout your home for a freshness you can smell.

Holiday Spice Cookies with tea

In an airtight container, these cookies will keep for about 1 week.

A note about the potpourri: Be sure to use high quality, food-grade potpourri. Most modern potpourri purchased from home stores is sprayed with chemical scents that are not safe for cooking.

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9 Responses to Holiday Spice Cookies

  1. sally says:

    looks tasty! so what happens to the potpourri after cooking?

  2. Enis LeConnard says:

    It creates tasty pockets of freshness inside the cookies. Be sure to let the cookies cool well before eating. You wouldn’t want to bite into a hot slug of molten pine.

  3. Tom says:

    Great article. I noticed that the photo of the ingredients shows baking powder while the recipe lists baking soda. I’ll assume that the recipe is correct, but I wanted to point out the discrepancy because it makes me feel better about myself.

  4. Enis LeConnard says:


    Quite correct. The photo shows baking powder while the recipe lists baking soda. The recipe is correct–it should be baking soda. The photo also does not show salt, which is included in the recipe.

  5. Agina says:

    Would a chopped up Christmas wreath be a suitable substitute for the potpourri? I like to be Green post-Holidays.

    • Enis LeConnard says:

      @Agina: Yes, but you could save yourself the chopping if you did a Holiday Spice Bundt Cake instead.

      P.S. love the bars. I assume they’re largely post-consumer wreath?

  6. Agina says:

    I’d like to see a recipe for curry. Thanks.

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