Prolific cookbook author and Camden resident Elinor Klivens offered this recipe when we asked if she baked anything special for Hanukkah. The holiday starts tonight and continues for eight days.

Dishes meant for Hanukkah, such as latkes (potato pancakes), are often fried in oil to symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah. More than 2,000 years ago, victorious Jewish rebels found that their Holy Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled during their battle against the government. To rededicate the temple, they needed to light a menorah, but they had only a tiny measure of oil. Miraculously, the menorah stayed lit for eight days.

Klivens, who has written more than a dozen baking books, said her family likes to celebrate with cookies. Here is her recipe.


Jelly doughnuts, or sufganiyot, may be the traditional Hanukkah dessert, but for our Hanukkah celebration it’s all about cookies. An easy sugar cookie dough is just right for cutting out dreidel and six-pointed star shapes that get decorated with blue and white sprinkles, sugar, frosting and anything else that I collect.

This dough rolls out easily and it’s forgiving if little hands squish and press it a bit. During baking, the dough doesn’t spread much and holds its shape. I prefer to add decorations after baking so sprinkles and sugars keep their color.


A combination of butter and vegetable shortening gives these cookies an old-fashioned sugar cookie taste and helps the cookies hold their shape, but using 1 ¼ cups of butter and no shortening will work.

If you like, the basic dough can be flavored with 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange, lemon or lime zest or 2 tablespoons of finely chopped candied ginger.

Makes about 24 cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutters.
Ingredients can be doubled
Cookie making 30 minutes, plus chilling time. Cookie baking 350 degrees F., two baking sheets at about 14 minutes each


2 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Optional sprinkles, dye or other edible decor


To make the dough, stir the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, vegetable shortening and sugar until smooth and the color lightens slightly, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during the mixing. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and mix until blended, about 1 minute.

On low speed, add the reserved flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. The dough will be soft and smooth. Divide the dough in half and form it into 2 smooth disks, about 6 inches in diameter each. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll without sticking, but not so hard that they are difficult to roll out, about 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake, position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one piece of dough and roll it out to about a 12-inch circle that is 3/16-inch thick. Using a dreidel- or a six-point-star-shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Use a thin metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart. Gather together the dough scraps and set aside. Unwrap the second piece of dough and repeat the rolling and cutting process. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet. Gather together all of the dough scraps to form a smooth disk. Repeat the rolling and cutting process. If there is still quite a bit of dough remaining, gather, roll and cut the scraps again.

Bake one sheet at a time for about 14 minutes, until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To make the glaze, stir the confectioners’ sugar, almond extract (if used) and water together in a small bowl. Use enough water to make a thick, but pourable glaze that can be piped or spread over the baked cookies. Add small amounts of water to thin the frosting, if needed, or confectioners’ sugar to thicken it.

To decorate the cookies, lightly glaze warm cookies if you want an opaque glaze that melts slightly. Glazing cooled cookies will result in a white glaze. The glaze is the glue that holds sprinkles, sugars, tiny white balls or any other edible decorations that you would like. The glaze can be piped in stripes, dots or a pattern. Edible food coloring can tint part of the glaze light blue (the classic Hanukkah color), and the two colors can swirl together to create a marbleized effect.

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