About two or three years ago I was given the recipe for “Pink Cookies” by Keith’s mom, LaDonna.  I think it’s because she had gotten so sick of making them for so many years.  Plus, Keith probably eats about two dozen of these cookies around this time of the year.  (I hope not too many more).  It was inevitable that I had to learn how to make them.  The recipe can be traced in the family as far back as the early 1800’s.  After much pleading from Keith, I hesitantly made my first batch of the family’s traditional cookies.

As you can see below, I’m not very good at frosting.  I used a bit too much liquid in the mixture.  The cookies also need to be a bit thicker.  (Sigh)  Give me a couple more years to get it right.

My Pink Cookies

Keith’s great great great grandmother Vincent (unknown first name) was of Pennsylvania Dutch origin.  They started off plain, white dough and white frosting.  The cookies are light, not dense, and a little crumbly.  It’s not too sweet and  just lightly scented with vanilla.  You could say they are soft sugar cookies.  Her daughter Myrtle Belle made them after that.  They are called “pink cookies” because of Myrtle Belle’s daughter Laura.  Keith’s great grandmother Laura had a penchant for coloring everything.  When I talked to his grandmother LoRetta last night she said that her mother even colored their milk blue or green just for fun.  Great grandmother Laura liked these cookies to be pink colored with pink frosting that’s why I made some (showed in the picture above).   Because of her, the name “pink cookies” stuck, no matter what color they were. Grandmother LoRetta got a bit fancier after that, by piping decorations onto the cookies.  Her daughter LaDonna made them with white or sometimes pink icing and colored sprinkles.  Everyone in the family loves the pink cookies and most of the women know how to make them but each have they own small variation.  Grandma LoRetta’s sister Auntie Leona likes to make them with a bit of nutmeg.  There’s a bit of a controversy among the women in the family about the actual history of the recipe but this is what I gathered from talking to them.  I may have gotten some information incorrectly but what I know for sure is that these cookies are amazing and you should try making them.

*Note the red embroidery of the little boy on the table cloth above was also made by Keith’s great grandmother Laura and the blue bowl was a part of her highly extensive glass collection (several of which are in a museum in Kansas).

Cookie Crumb



For the dough:

  • 4 c. flour
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. shortening (the original recipe used lard)
  • 1 c. buttermilk (You can substitute with 1 T. vinegar plus 1 cup whole milk)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Cream the sugar and fat.  Mix in the eggs.  Add the milk and flour alternately.  Refrigerate.  The dough should be good to work with after about an hour if you want to make it all on the same day.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have about 2 to 3 cups extra flour when working with the dough.  It is very sticky.  Grab a handful of the dough, sprinkle a generous amount of flour and roll into a ball.  Sprinkle more flour onto the dough and the rolling pin.  Roll out to about 1/3 of an inch.  Dip the cookie cutter in some flour to prevent dough from sticking before cutting.  Cut and transfer immediately onto a cookie sheet.  (It’s best to use simple shape since the dough is fragile.)  They key is to get this process done as fast as possible.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the top surface is dry.  The cookie should be taken out before any browning has occured.  Transfer the cookies on a cooling rack.

LaDonna’s Much Nicer Looking Pink Cookies

For the icing:


  •  2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 small drop of vanilla extract
  • 1 T. softened butter
  • a few drops of milk

Mix everything except for the milk.  Add little drops of milk at a time until you have the consistency of a thick, spreadable frosting.  Grandma LoRetta said it should be thicker than a glaze.  Frost the cookies quickly.  Ideally you’ll need one or two more people helping to sprinkle as you frost.  Let the cookies rest again so the frosting can set.  This recipe makes an incredible amount of cookies, about 50-60 pieces (with at least 2.5 inches in diameter).  Now you can see why one might get tired of making them after many years.  To keep the cookies from drying to fast, LaDonna suggests storing some in an airtight container and keeping them in the freezer or the refrigerator if they are going to be eaten within a couple of days.  Have fun!

My Version 2012


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