Early editions of Yankee included a monthly “Almanac,” a three-column grid stuffed with recipes, quirky stories, and local ephemera. One item recorded old-time Mainer expressions, such as “mizzly day,” a mixture of fog and smoke, and “wodget,” a handful of rags twisted together.
These classic sugar cookies are based on a 1939 recipe that ran in December. “No old-time Christmas was complete without a fat stone crock packed tight with filled cookies,” it read. “This is an old New Hampshire recipe.”
As written, the original recipe lacked modern appeal—the cookies came out dry and the “filling” turned out to be really more of a lemon–raisin sauce. But with small adjustments, we ended up with delicious sugar cookies, perfect for cutting and decorating—and a favorite treat for the holiday season.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl, if using a hand-held mixer), cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat 1 minute. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, and stir just enough to form a smooth dough.
Turn the dough out onto a counter lightly dusted with flour and divide into two equal portions. Gather each portion into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
Preheat your oven to 350° and position the racks in the middle. Grease two cookie (baking) sheets or line with parchment paper. Roll the dough out on a counter dusted with flour to a ⅛-inch thickness and cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters, gathering and rerolling the dough as needed.
Bake until just golden brown on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through; then cool on wire racks.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and water. When cookies are cool, spread with glaze; then sprinkle with decorative sugar.