You know those recipes that are handed down in your family from generation to generation? This is one of our family’s oldest recipes! Mammy Heckert (my great grandmother) was known for these homemade caramel icing cookies. So much that our family simply calls these Mammy Heckert Cookies. Actually, the whole town where we grew up knows about Mammy Heckert Cookies! This are legendary.
We don’t have a picture of Mammy Heckert, unfortunately. I thought there would be one at my parent’s wedding, but she wasn’t there. They got married in February, and there was a big snowstorm that day. Our grandmother didn’t want to drive to her house to pick her up because the roads were bad (Mammy Heckert couldn’t drive at this point). Apparently she was VERY mad that she missed the wedding.
While I’m too young to remember Mammy Heckert, I’ve heard enough stories about her making these cookies by the HUGE tin-full. The original recipe ratio from Mammy Heckert called for 17 cups of flour!!! I can’t imagine the pile of cookies it made! When talking about these treats, someone always comments on the huge tins she used to fill for my dad, uncle, and their friends when they were young and heading out on a trip to the beach.
It’s been a LONG time since anyone in my family attempted making these cookies. When talking about Memmy Heckert one day, I made a comment about how I’d like to try making them sometime and should track down who in the family has the recipe. What a mistake it was to say that out loud! Dad was so excited for them that he’d ask where his ‘Memmy Cookies’ were every time he saw me in the following weeks. It took some practice, but I think I’ve finally been able to make them pretty darn close to how Memmy Heckert’s cookies were.
Now this is not your quick and easy cookie recipe we normally love to make, but this old fashioned recipe is so good! You know a recipe is a good old fashioned one when it calls for lard! Calories don’t count when it’s a old family recipe right? I’m going to pretend you all just agreed with me.
The cookie itself is similar to a sugar cookie, but it’s pretty thick and a little bit denser. Mammy Heckert always made them very thick and big… like the size of a saucer!
Making the cookies isn’t hard, but the icing can be a little tricky if you’ve never made a cooked caramel icing before. If you don’t cook it long enough, it’s too thin and runny. But if you cook it too long it can get gritty/sandy. You definitely have to keep an eye on it when you make it. Also, make sure you’re not distracted and trying to do two things at once when it comes time to spread the icing on the cookies. As it cools, the icing starts to harden and set up, so you have to work quickly. If you notice it’s getting too hard to work with, pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds.
I think my family (especially my dad!) is pretty happy someone has taken on the task on making these cookies again. I’ll definitely have to keep making these for big family get-togethers from now on!
Mammy Heckert Caramel Icing Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup lard
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 cup milk at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 cups flour plus extra for rolling out cookies
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 Tablespoons butter
In a large bowl, cream together sugar, butter, and lard. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, baking powder, and 7 cups of flour. Add to wet ingredients and mix. Slowly add last cup of flour. Dough shouldn't be sticky (so you can work with it), but do not add too much flour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out cookie dough. Dough should be about 3/8" thick (can be thicker if desired).
Cut into circles (or other shapes if desired) and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes until the bottoms are just starting to get slightly brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cool.
In a medium saucepan, bring sugars, heavy cream, and vanilla to a boil.
Boil for 10-15 minutes. Mixture should be somewhat gooey with a light color and somewhat follows your spoon when stirred. Do NOT over cook or icing with get dark and gritty/sandy.
Remove from heat, add butter, and stir to combine.
Transfer to medium bowl. Place bowl in an ice bath and mix icing with a hand mixer until it starts to cool.
When cooled enough to work with, spread onto cooled cookies. Work fast or icing will harden before you are finishing icing all cookies. (If you notice it's getting too hard to work with, microwave for just a few seconds at a time.) Let icing cool and harden before storing.
If you lovecookies, but want something a little easier, here are a few other options… they aren’t as good as Mammy Heckert cookies, though! 🙂