belated wishes (slice-a-fancy cookies)


As much as I love my friends and family, I am terrible at getting gifts out to them on time. Invariably, I won’t start looking for gift ideas until after I’ve made the call (or email or text message) to wish the person a happy birthday

And that is why my good friend Sidfaiwu, whose birthday is before Thanksgiving, got Christmas cookies along with the rest of his birthday gift.

copy-of-img_0256Updated photo 12.13.08

These cookies are as much a Christmas tradition in my family as santa or the decorated tree. Although I can’t remember a Christmas without them, this is my first time making them.

The dough itself is simple – a classic cookie dough recipe where the butter and sugars are creamed together, the eggs are beaten in, and the pre-mixed dry ingredients are added. It’s in the shaping that the recipe gets interesting. The dough is divided into equal portions, colored, patted into rectangles, then stacked and cut to form cookies. This is where the recipe really shines, because it’s an easy way to make an impressive variety of shapes.

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I hope Sid enjoys these as much as I always have!

Yes, Dave and I got him a math calendar for his birthday.  We are the coolest friends ever.


Slice a Fancy Cookies (from Family Circle)

I was working from a shorthand recipe that I’d copied in a hurry a few years ago.  This is the real version (updated from my original post), although I’ve modernized it a bit.  Apparently I made the “ribbon fancies”.  I would just call them striped, but what do I know.

Makes about 12 dozen cookies

4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) butter
1 cup (7 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
2. Beat butter with brown and granulated sugars until fluffy; beat in eggs and vanilla. Blend in flour mixture.
3. Divide evenly into 3 bowls. Flavor, shape, and decorate each variety, following recipes below.
4. Slice frozen cookie dough into 1/4-inch sections and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets to wire racks; cool completely.

Ribbon Fancies

Divide one bowl of dough into three equal portions. Tint one third red, one green and leave one plain. Roll out each section into a 9 x 3-inch rectangle between sheets of parchment (or wax) paper; chill in freezer 10 minutes; halve each rectangle lengthwise. Brush tops very lightly with milk. Lay one plain stripe, on top of that place a green, then red, than green again, and red, and then white layer on top of each other. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for several hours at least. When ready to bake, follow above directions.

Pinwheel Twirls

Divide second bowl of dough in half. Tint one half red or green; leave other half plain. Roll out each half to a 9×9-inch square between sheets of parchment paper; peel off top sheets. Lay tinted dough, paper side up, on top of plain dough. Peel off paper. Roll up doughs tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Wrap in wax paper; freeze at least several hours. When ready to bake, follow above directions.


Divide third bowl of dough in half. Blend ½ square unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled, into one half; leave other half plain. Roll out each half to a 9×3-inch rectangle, chill. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into 8 strips, each 3/8-inch wide. Carefully lift a chocolate strip with a long-bladed spatula and place on a clean sheet of wax paper; lay a plain strip close to it, then repeat with a chocolate and plain strip to make a four-stripe ribbon about 1½ inches wide. Brush very lightly with milk. Build a second, third, and fourth layer, alternating plain and chocolate strips each time and brushing each layer with milk before adding the next one. Wrap in wax paper; freeze. When ready to bake, follow above directions.


  1. These cookies were fantastic! I may have to try this one this weekend. Thanks so much for the gift. You and Dave are unknowingly carrying on a tradition that’s been going on for many years. Every year since I got my first math degree, somebody has given me this calendar for the upcoming year. Sadly, last year was the first that I didn’t get it. I really like the calendar and missed all last year. I’m glad that it will be back up on cubicle wall this January!

  2. bridget says:

    Where’s my geology calendar? 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for this pinwheel aka slice a fancy cookie recipe. I have it in a 1972 volume 5 of family circle illustrated library set. After several moves volume 5 is no where to be found. This is my oldest sister’s favorite christmas cookie so thanks to you I will be baking up a batch this week.Easiest pinwheel dough to work with as I found out many years ago through trial and error. This 1 never fails and is so tasty too. Have a great holiday. dooo

  4. This is the recipe I wanted!. I got it in 1973 or 04 and threw out the chocolate part with the checkerboards
    because I was too stressed to do them.. A lot of cutting, freezing, cutting, coloring, etc. Now I want to
    present this as a recipe that I have made a tradition in my family every year. But, I wanted the chocolate
    part. What are the chances in this world of finding such a thing? Well, here it is, and I can’t wait to do
    the chocolate again! I must be sick!
    Sick or not, thanks for putting it on this website!


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