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the old NUT TREE - ginger bread cookies [Moved from SF Bay Area Board]

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Does anyone remember the big gingerbread cookies from the Nut Tree as fondly as I do? When the Nut Tree closed in 1995? I was sad and it was mostly because of the loss of these delicious cookies. I have tried in vain to find a recipe or print display of them. Anyone know?

I was reminded of this when we pulled into the "new" Nut Tree in Vacaville last week. No, that is nothing like I expected.

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  1. They were beautiful -- at least to my young eyes, but they tasted of the food coloring in the frosting. You're probably better off just remembering them fondly.

    Is there anything good to eat at the new Nut Tree? Is it worth a stop?

    Edit: Oops, I guess that would have to go back on the SF board.

    1. this might have some promising leads


      ah, I remember the days when the nut tree was the only thing between vallejo and sacramento.... though I don't remember the cookies you speak of... good luck!

      3 Replies
      1. re: withalonge

        I remember the Nut Tree!! We would stop there once in a great while (our family lived in CA (Sonoma County) for several years) and I still have family there - I don't remember the cookies but there was some special treat that my Daddy would get us. For some reason I'm thinking Taffy but that may be totally off. I wish I could remember exactly what it was. When I read your post title I got a sad/happy pit in my belly.
        We aren't bakers in my famly but I'll check with my sister who may have a recipe- she is a cookbook fanatic.

        1. re: withalonge

          We used to stop there all the time in the 60's when driving between Davis and my grandparents' apartment in Berkeley.

          I don't remember the cookies but I do remember the rocking wooden horses in front. We'd buy almonds and snack on them in the car.

          1. re: tcamp

            I grew up in Walnut Creek, and my grandmother lived in Sacramento, so this was a frequent stop for my family in the 80's and early 90's. We would get our pumpkins there every year. The train was awesome, and I remember dying to get the little model cars they had in the toy store. I drove by the new Nut Tree a few weeks ago but didn't stop in. It looked a little too pristine...the Nut Tree I remember was a little bit funky...

        2. Of course! They were a Nut Tree Signature item.

          They are actually called Honey Cookies. Baked in various shapes and Hand Decorated with colorful icing.

          This recipe (along with many others) can be found in the cookbook: 'The Nut Tree Remembered: The Cookbook'. I believe it can still be purchased at the Vacaville Museum.

          1. Ooooooooh. I haven't thought of The Nut Tree in years. When I was about 8, my family flew in Dad's small private plane from Oregon to Disneyland and we landed at The Nut Tree airport (they did have an airport, ya know) for lunch. And we were met by the little train and its engineer and were taken to the restaurant. I don't remember cookies from there but I sure remember that train and its whistle! What is the *new* Nut Tree? Is it located at the old site? I'd love to go back there.

            1. Actually, the recipe that is in the Nut Tree Remembered is not the complete recipe for the honey cookies but close. While you will not achieve the exact family recipe - using freshly ground spices and aging the dough will be better. Hope this helps - family member was head of the candy kitchen and master decorator. We still get the real thing every Christmas with orginal cutters! Nothing like them! The Nut Tree Remembered is a great book but I've heard that many of the recipes have been altered a bit for the public. :( There will never be anything like the Nut Tree...a wonderful place and it was so magical as a child...it was nice to finally take my own children on the train again but other than that...so different. It's nice to still see many family members in the vintage photos around the shopping outlets

              4 Replies
              1. re: giovannipens

                Giovanni, would you be willing to paraphrase the recipe for us?


                1. re: giovannipens

                  Giovanni, I know someone already asked, but asking again just in case :) ... any chance your family member would be willing to share the "real" version of the honey cookie recipe? these were our all-time favorites as kids, and i would love more than anything to make for my brother as a holiday gift, since now he has two little ones- we want to keep the delicious memory alive!! my mom and dad would always stop to get us these cookies when we were on our way to the family christmas celebration- we looked forward to them more than christmas morning, they were that good! thanks for considering :) ...

                  1. re: katesmith

                    The _Nut Tree Remembered_ cookbook is back in print, and available from the Vacaville Museum Store.


                  2. re: giovannipens

                    G - you are so lucky! Grew up outside of Concord and I too have fond memories of the Nut Tree. Thru the 1950's up to the 80's, the Nut Tree was a special place for me and my family. I lived in Vacaville twice and once I worked in the cookie room. Decorating those famous honey cookies! That was a dream job! I loved looking at them, they were works of art to me. I especially like the Holiday ones. But, I was always delighted to work on the Coit Tower, Giants Baseball, Halloween witch on a broom, and too many to mention here. Please thank your family member for the wonderful memories. Barb

                  3. I totally remember the famous Nut Tree cookies. I am 35 years old and grew up in Sacramento. It was a family tradition to go to the Nut Tree for special occasions. I remember the cookies being sooo big and I can remember my parents only letting my brother and I get the Gingerbread Man cookie because it was only outlined in frosting, with eyes and a mouth...unlike the beautifully decorated hot air balloons, bears, and other fun designs that were loaded with that magical frosting that I can still taste today. As an adult, my cousin and I smoked some pot and decided we had to go get a Nut Tree cookie. As unsafe as it might have been, we hopped in my car and drove to the magical place. I remembered being a bit overwhelmed when I went inside, yet fascinated with all of the baked goods and gems that were there for the taking. I think I actually bought a geode with my cookie. Ohhh, we miss the Nut Tree. I wish that I could take my one year old there someday...but it is no longer the same. I wish she could ride the train and find a treasure in the little toy store. I wish she could run up the slight ramp to the restaurant and enjoy little loaves of fresh bread. I would love to find some old photos of the Tree..maybe there will be some in the cookbook. If anyone can get the recipe for those delicious honey cookies please pass the wire...I have never been able to find that fantastic taste in a cookie.....Long Live The Nut Tree

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sarahbrew

                      The last time I went to the Nut Tree in the early '90s before it closed, the smallest honey cookies were selling for $4.00 each. The largest, most elaborately decorated ones were $8.00. My parents used to buy them for me when I was a small kid in the late '60s, and I have to believe they were cheaper than that even accounting for inflation. I didn't buy one on that nostalgia trip as an adult because I thought the price was a rip-off. You could still get decorated honey cookies at places like Safeway for around a dollar. There was a Southern California company called Fantasy Cookies that supplied them to Bay Area bakeries and stores for years. They were almost as good and as cute as the Nut Tree's and were cheap. For some reason, they stopped selling them up here. I did find them at a bakery in Solvang near Santa Barbara a couple of years ago, so perhaps you can still find them in Southern California.

                      Here's a recipe I found on the Internet, labeled Nut Tree Honey Cookies:

                      2/3 cup dark honey
                      1 cup sugar
                      1/3 cup shortening
                      1 egg
                      1/3 cup water
                      4 cups flour
                      1 teaspoon baking soda
                      1/2 teaspoon salt
                      1 teaspoon cinnamon
                      1 teaspoon cloves
                      Decorative icing:
                      3 egg whites, room temperature (pasteurized egg whites)
                      1 pound powdered sugar
                      1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
                      Food coloring, optional

                      Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

                      Bring to a boil sugar, honey and shortening. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. Beat egg and add to water. Mix and sift the flour, soda, salt and spices.

                      Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the liquid ingredients to the honey mixture. If the dough is allowed to ripen for several days before rolling out, the flavor and texture are somewhat improved.

                      Roll out dough about 1/4-inch thick and cut.

                      Bake at 325 degrees until edges are golden brown.

                      DECORATIVE ICING:
                      Place all icing ingredients in mixing bowl and mix with electric beater for about 10 minutes. After mixing, be sure to keep bowl covered with a damp cloth at all times; icing dries quickly and hard. If you wish, add food coloring to make colored lines.

                      For decorating cookies:
                      Fill pastry or paper frosting cone with icing, up to about 1/2 inch below the top.

                      Fold the paper down over the icing and cut 1/8 inch off tip of the cone. Squeeze icing through the hole in the tip with one hand while holding top closed with other hand. It takes a little practice. A paper pattern, punched with pinholes for outlines, placed over the cookie and lightly dusted with powdered sugar makes decorating easier.