White Velvet Cookies

Spiral Stenographer's Notebook

My grandma loved to bake. She used a stenographer’s spiral notebook to record her favorite recipes. I still have that notebook. Some of the recipes were handwritten, and others were cutouts from newspapers. This recipe for White Velvet Cookies is a long time favorite in our family. I remember eating them while growing up, and they seemed to melt in my mouth. I’m not sure mine are as good as hers, but I am going to keep trying!

Recipe for White Velvet cookie

My cousin, Karen, makes these cookies as well. She rolls out the dough and then uses cookie cutters to make beautiful cookies. I followed my grandma’s tradition of rolling the dough into balls and then using a fork to make a criss-cross pattern. Karen’s cookies are so pretty though, I plan to try doing it that way as well.

Baked by Me
Baked by my cousin Karen.
These are beautiful and look delicious!

One year, my daughter, Talia, made these cookies at Christmas. She gave them as gifts along with a copy of the recipe to several family members. A gift like this is my favorite kind – creative, thoughtful and delicious!

My grandma came to this country in 1906 when she was 8 years old. She, her mother and sister left Graz, Austria and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean on the Kronprinz Wilhem ship. They, along with 12 million others, went through Ellis Island. They had come to join her father, my great-grandfather, who had arrived some years before to work as a carpenter for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. And now, because of all that, I am able to share this delicious recipe with you.

I think my grandma would be so happy knowing her baking traditions live on, as well as our good and happy memories of her.

Gabrielle Zaiger

25 comments

    • Our library currently has free remote access to the library version of ancestory.com (through the library’s website). I search in there and have found a few things – such as the name of the ship she came over on and the date. I also used it to find more info about my dad and his dad. Thanks so much for reading! I appreciate your interest. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The cookies are beautiful–both versions. Karen’s version makes it look like a shortbread. Randy’s grandmother used to flatten her cookies with the bottom of a jar that had a star-like design–I think it was the jar that came with the pimento cream cheese spread.

    Thank you for sharing the story of your grandmother and her journey to the US. The stories of people’s lives provide such context.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the creativity of using the bottom of a jar as a press! I think our grandmothers were great models of resourcefulness and creativity. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the season and your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Betty for this beautiful tribute to Grandma❤️ I have been baking these cookies since I was a teenager. I used to make a log of the dough and refrigerate it. Then I would just slice the cookies and bake. Grandma was a stickler about “not working the dough”. It’s a wonderful dough and delicious cookies, best served with a glass of wine, as Grandma advised😍. Loved her greatly and miss her dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I hate to admit it, but this was the first time I’ve ever baked these cookies. And I recently made my first pie from complete scratch (no bought filling.) Both were inspired by Grandma. I guess it took retirement and Covid to get me there! Going forward, I do hope to bake more. I think of so many ways Grandma was creative and resourceful. And cheerful and faithful! We were lucky to have her, weren’t we? Karen, please pass along a very Merry Christmas to your parents – and your family. Enjoy your day – and the season – and all those beautiful and delicious cookies you’ve made!

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  3. Grandma’s recipes are always the best. For me, it was my grandfather. He was a chef when he was alive. I only have three memories of him. Being scared that he was going to yell at me (I was a rambubctious little kid), the day of his funeral, and him showing me how to make dumplings. He was the reason why I liked to cook. I liked to think it came naturally because he was a chef.

    I would love to try those cookies. I’m not much of a sweets person, but white velvet sounds great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never made dumplings. It’s nice that your grandfather taught you how to make them. I do like sweets, but I try to limit them. These cookies are not super sweet, kind of similar to a shortbread. Thanks for reading, and have a good week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just the younger version, right David? 🙂 I’ll have to look again at some pictures of her when she was younger. I do have lots of good memories of her and my Grandpa. Enjoy the coming Christmas week! For some reason, I keep thinking of the phrase, let’s keep “Christ in Christmas.”

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  4. What a wonderful story! How brave your grandmother and her family were. Have you ever been to Ellis Island? If not, put it on your to-do list! The tour is wonderful.
    I love the thought of passing recipes down through generations, that your daughter made your grandmother’s cookies! And I understand your feeling yours aren’t as good as grandma’s. That’s how I feel about my mother’s date nut bread. Mine is never quite as good as I remember hers being. Thanks for the great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome! I have not been to Ellis Island, and I would love to visit there. My daughter visited a few years back, and I get choked up just thinking how my daughter was in the same place as my Grandma when she first came to the United States. I did “register” my Grandma years ago when Lee Iacocca led the campaign to restore parts of Ellis Island. And yes, they were very brave to travel so far to start a new life in a new country. I, too, like how recipes are passed down and with those recipes comes the memories and the related stories. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the coming week!

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  5. Those cookies look oh so good. Thanks for sharing a bit of history about your family. I also agree if you have never been to Ellis Island put it on your “must visit” list. You’ll love the tour and will learn so much. Thanks again for sharing. Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. These cookies look yummy. My grandparents came from Austria to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1899 and then went by train to Winnipeg Manitoba and by oxcart to Saskatchewan where they had purchased land for farming before leaving Austria. My grandfather was a musician; he played violin in Vienna before leaving. I can’t imagine the transition to working the prairie sod using horse-drawn ploughs! Nobody thought of cooking anywhere but at home in those times. It’s wonderful to see that handwritten copy of the recipe that your grandmother used.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting! So, we both have ancestors in Austria! My Grandma’s family left in 1906, and her father a few years before. I wonder how many left Austria in those times – and why – a better life? And yes, you are right! My Grandparents never ate out. How wonderful you know so many details of your grandparents’ migration. Travel by oxcart. Work the sod with horse-drawn ploughs. And our burden is to stay home. 🙂 Way different times! Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day tomorrow!

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  7. Hi, Betty. I shared this post with my wife (who’s a major baker), and she is curious about what kind of icing that your cousin is using on the cookies. Thanks!

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