Margaret Button cookies

This is a great time to dust off those cookie cutters and presses you bought on sale last January and try them out before holiday cookie season goes into full swing.

If an advertisement for something pops up on Facebook, Instagram or TV more than three times, I’m probably going to order it — and then never use it.

Like the rolling pin embossed with reindeer and pine trees that you roll onto cookie dough and then cut out with round cookie cutters — and it was only $9.99. I had to buy a set of round cookie cutters of various sizes (because I didn’t know how big the reindeer design was) for another $9.99.

I also came across another embossed rolling pin, one used for Springerle, German anise-flavored cookies baked by my ancestors. That little number set me back $24.99.

I also discovered a set of five cookie stamps, which had been on clearance for 99 cents after Christmas.

With the holidays coming, I decided to take them out for a spin. Maybe my first mistake was buying a tube of sugar cookie dough instead of making my own …

I divided the dough into three equal portions and began rolling. The reindeer pin was my first try. If I didn’t flour the rolling pin, the dough stuck in all the nooks and crannies of the design — and there are thousands! If I did flour the rolling pin, the flour filled in the smaller parts of the design. And no matter how hard I rolled, the design was very faint — and faded even more when the cookies were baking.

The Springerle rolling pin went much better, but then the designs are much simpler, and the Springerle dough is tougher and wouldn’t expand in the oven as much as the sugar cookie dough did. A definite try again.

I’m glad the cookie stamps were only 99 cents. They, too, stuck to the dough and created a ridge around the rim of the cookie. And were much too big.

Although I didn’t try any type of glaze, I’m pretty sure all the designs would have disappeared completely.

So, reindeer pin and cookie stamps go in the future tag sale box and I’ll try the Springerle with the right dough another time.

I found this recipe for chocolate cut-out cookies many years ago and it has become one of my go-to recipes at Christmas time.


Makes about 3 dozen


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla glaze (recipe follows)


In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until blended. Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the butter mixture, blending well.

Refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm enough to roll.

Heat oven to 325 F.

On a lightly floured board or between two pieces of waxed paper, roll small portions of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched.

Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with vanilla glaze.



3 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

2 to 4 drops food color (optional)


In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Gradually add milk; beat with wire whisk until smooth. Stir in food color if desired.

Margaret Button can be reached at or 413-496-6298.