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Ever have sand tarts???

I did a search on here recently for sand tarts and I was surprised that I found nothing. It got me thinking about these lovely thin little cookies my grandmother & mother always made during the holidays. I did a search online and learned they are a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition (we're from PA).

After thanksgiving, mom always rolled out her card table into the kitchen and set up her sand tart shop. It was a laborous process to make these very thin cookies and they had to be handled ever so gently because they were so fragile. They were simple in appearance - thin, egg wash glaze, cinnamon sugar, and a single pecan on top - but so delicious. The thinner the better, mom always said, and I can remember her raising an eyebrow at others tarts that were too thick. Ha!

Just curious who is familiar with these holiday treats and how your family prepares them. I found on youtube a video of a family making them and they sprinkled theres with different colored sprinkles - something I rarely saw (occasionally someone would do red & green).

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  1. my nana made these too! I make them every christmas!

    Cream together 2 cups butter abd 2 1/2 cups sugar
    Add 4 cups of flour and two eggs.

    She would roll these into large logs and cut into cookies. I roll the whole log in
    sugar and then sprinkle with sugar after I cut them
    Bake at 350 for 12 minutes...you can also sprinkle with sugar after baking.

    Enjoy! they are so decadent because of all the butter.....it is the holidays!!

    1. my aunt pauline made sand tarts. i've got her recipe and make crescent shapes, like she did. the crescents are about the thickness of a ring finger, about 2 1/2" long.
      pecans are chopped pretty finely and added into the dough. i don't recall any glaze. these cookies are delicate and crumbly along the lines of a shortbread.
      i absolutely love them! i've used powdered sugar to coat, but never sprinkles.

      4 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        this is our southern version of sand tarts, at least in our family: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgur...

        1. re: alkapal

          something VERY similar-looking here in Germany is called Vanillakipferl

        2. re: alkapal

          What you describe is what I also know as sand tarts (native Texan here). I remember them so fondly. I've made them many, many times around the holidays. Now my challenge is to figure out how to make them gluten free...

        3. I thought sand tarts were made in the little tartlet shells. I have a set of those and thought that's what they were for. I must be thinking of something else. These sound wonderful.

          3 Replies
          1. re: karykat

            Are you thinking of tassies? I make that in those little mini tins, using a sweet dough made of cream cheese, butter etc.

            1. re: chef chicklet

              Yes, I think maybe I am. But are those scandinavian? I thought my tins made a scandinavian thing?

              1. re: karykat

                Tassies are southern. I make mine in mini-muffin tins.

          2. I make the "Joy of Cooking" sand tarts every year. I either sprinkle them with sugar or make jam-filled sandwich cookies with them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: visciole

              We used to make the Joy of Cooking ones when I was a kid -- that is to say, my father made the dough and we rolled it out, used Christmas-shaped cookie cutters to cut out the cookies and decorated them heavily. I think we didn't roll them out thin enough because I remeber them being pretty hard to bite into. One year we made a house (like a gingerbread house) out of that dough and it lasted forever....

            2. I grew up in central PA and sand tarts are 3rd generation (gramma, mom, me) for me. We roll them out and cut into X-mas shapes. Some get sugared, some get sprinkled, some get sugar decos, some get iced, and some get all painted and gussied up! Maybe sand tarts are a PA Dutch thing because I never see any others at the cookie swaps where I'm living now.

              1 Reply
              1. re: morwen

                Yes, the rolled out variety are what I am familiar with. I think some posters are referring to a different kind of sand tart. I've always known them to be very thin and delicate. Central PA is where we hail from also. I've never seen them down south where we are now, but also I rarely see them back home in PA other than at my families' gatherings.

              2. I'm originally from PA Dutch country (though I'm not PA Dutch) and I love these! I've never made them, though my sister always has some when I visit for the holidays. My great-aunt, a German immigrant, used to make sand tarts with a single pecan on top too. I'm not sure if these are an old German recipe that she brought with her or if she got the recipe from here Dutch neighbors. But I do remember going to her cookie tins during the holidays to treat myself to those cookies!

                13 Replies
                1. re: nofunlatte

                  In my family sand tarts were always sandbacklser (this is a purely phonetic spelling) and were always made by my aunt, Hildeborg. They were so delicate that they were murder to press into the fluted metal molds...you'd just get them to the right height and that side would crumble and collapse. But oh were they ever delicious! In summer, my aunt would fill them with raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

                  I can never think of them without the memory crowding in of my aunt, during the hottest days of August, sweating in the kitchen making these tarts. "Oh, don't worry about me. I'm fine (loud sigh). Your poor OLD Aunt Hilda has nothing better to do.....

                  They were fabulous, though.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    PA Dutch sand tarts are really tarts, in the traditional sense. They are a thin crisp cookie usually with a single pecan on top and a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

                    Here is a neat video of an older woman and her son & granddaughter making sand tarts. You MUST store them in a tin! We always used a big Charles Chips tin.


                    1. re: lynnlato

                      WOW! I still have that big ol' Charlie's Chips tin and I still use it for the sand tarts! I'm residing in the South too. Like you, these seem to appear only at family gatherings. I remember as a little kid sitting with cousins at the table with an assortment of tinted icings and decos and my special cookie paintbrush waiting to decorate the first batch of cookies. Are you a long-lost relative? Maybe folks don't have the determination for the process anymore or the fond memories to spur them on. And the recipe in the video is the same process I do. Except I don't roll quite as thin so the cookies will stand up to decorating post-baking. The dragees, the cinnamon red hots, sprinkles, it's all there! Thanks for finding the video Lynn!

                      1. re: morwen

                        Cousin, is that you??? Ha! Glad you enjoyed. I think you're right about folks probably not having the endurance for the process these days. What with over-worked and over-scheduled lives everything is rush, rush, rush. I enjoyed watching the older woman teach her granddaughter (and son) how to make them. Nostalgic, and a neat tender moment. :)

                        1. re: morwen

                          That big chip can thing must be part of the tradition. Our family did that as well.
                          The problem with that is getting caught with the can on the couch, eating one handful after another. Now we put them in small tins and hide them so they'll be some left for Christmas day. Which means sharing............. :(

                        2. re: lynnlato

                          ohhhh that's so sweet~~ u tube has immortalized the Sand Tart recipe!!!
                          thanks for posting the link, now I get it! Absolutely necessary to see someone else make these delicate, and not easy to make cookies! The written recipe from flickr, is decievingly easy, I knew it! Did you see how thin they rolled that cookie dough out!

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            That thin dough is precisely why I don't even attempt to make sand tarts - I don't have that kind of patience when it comes to baking. But I do have a big sister who makes them for me every year! Last year she made her thinnest batch ever and had them stored in our Charles Chips can. Her little granddaughter was carrying the tin and, gasp, dropped it! THE HORROR!!! My sister had to go into another room, count to 10 and take deep, cleansing breaths. UGH!

                            Here is a pic of my sister's latest batch, which she texted to me to tease me. She doesn't use cookie cutters or sprinkles, just a pecan and cinnamon sugar.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              I'll take those broken ones off your hands.
                              These are the worst cookie addiction there is.
                              So thin, how can they be bad for you.

                              1. re: pacheeseguy

                                Hahaha - exactly! I am a broken cookie/chip/pretzel/cracker girl myself. I like to trick myself into thinking I'm not having a WHOLE one - but just a piece isn't so awful.

                                I also indulge in a splash or two of wine on occasion. ;-) <wink>

                                1. re: lynnlato

                                  Just a splash?
                                  I try to keep mine in the glass as it heads to my mouth.
                                  Gets harder as the night goes on.
                                  I like my Eggnog/rum and sand tarts too.

                        3. re: oakjoan

                          Sandbakkels are Norwegian cookies -- I have my mother's old, well used tins; they are marvelous holiday cookies, along with krumkacker and fattigman's bakkels.

                          Are you the person who asked about the jelled veal dish at Christmas time last year? It's "Kalve Sos" and it is made with veal breast -- cooked, meat taken off and ground with seasonings and caraway seed, the veal naturally jells. I have my Grandmother's recipe. It is delicate and delicious, and a big part of my childhood Christmas memories!
                          Gladelig Jul -- Cass

                          1. re: Cass 560

                            These are exactly the cookies I was thinking of. I have the little tins for them but have never made them. Thanks for solving this mystery for me.

                      2. We had these every Christmas when I was growing up in Central PA, made very similarly to what you describe (except with a walnut piece on top). I never liked them that much because I was always going for the cookies with chocolate in them, but I've appreciated them more as an adult.

                        1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/84904494...

                          Here's a recipe that looks to be rather old, or let me say not a recent one.
                          I've would of never eaten these when I was young since I hated nuts in my cookies.
                          Anyway, that's all changed. Think I'll try these, LL they seem to more in line with what you recall, being rolled out thin, then cut and the nut on top.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            Don't you just love reading those old recipes? I have an old PA Grange cookbook that was reprinted and it's a riot to reading the quirky measurements and simple ingredients. Come to think of it, those old reprinted cookbooks would make a unique gift for a foodie.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              Oh I do, and I have many old books that are from the 50s and on, that have such nostalgic recipes. I have purchased most of my collection of community or church cookbooks from used books and thrift stores. Let me tell you I dearly love them. I actually have used most of them, they have great recipes for jams, cookies, cakes, and bbq sauces.
                              I love this one book in particular, nothing earth shattering or gourmet however, there are a lot of Italian contibutors. The little book is called HomeMade Cooking Good 'Nuff for Sharing. since it was from Fordoche LA area, I was quite surprised to find recipes for ricotta, and white cheese, Italian Cream Cake, and many more fabulous recipes. So many recipes so little time...
                              I can't wait to try Rosa Belle's Honey Cake. How'd I miss that one? There are many cake recipes that are made from scratch and also I've noticed, Miss Betty Crocker must of been making a killing with her yellow cake mix. It is the basis of many cakes around this time. An easy fix if I want to make a cake recipe, just like swapping the butter out for oleo (now theres a word you don't hear much anymore!)

                              Yes absolutely, I think a foodie person or hound like me would be delighted with these books as a gift!

                          2. Sand tarts are a very traditional Pa Dutch/German cookie.
                            The best ones are very thin, like a potato chip.
                            They must be rolled out with a heavy hand to get them paper thin,
                            and then they cook very fast. I love the darker ones.
                            Very expensive to buy at the local farmers markets too.

                            1. My mom is from PA Dutch country, as well, and these were our standard Christmas cookie when I was growing up. Our recipe uses cake flour, which I haven't seen too often. We'd cut them into Christmas shapes and, traditionally, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and a nut, but also with red and green sparkling sugar. My mom always rolled them thin, but as a kid, I always wanted thick, soft sugar cookies!

                              Speaking of PA, my mom always waxed poetic about the hickory nut cookies her neighbor made. Are these traditional, too? I have hickory nuts in the freezer, but no tried and true recipe.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: emily

                                I'm not familiar with the hickory nut cookies, but I'm intrigued. Hopefully, they will ring a bell to someone and they will post.

                                As others have mentioned, as a kid I wasn't doing cartwheels for sand tarts, but I did appreciate the tradition - mom busting out the card table to roll them out on, the kitchen looking like cookie ground zero and Dad pacing waiting for the first batch to be ready. But as an adult I certainly appreciate the simple ingredients & laborous process involved in making these treats.

                                Personally, I don't have the patience to make these, but I thoroughly enjoy my sister's cookies every holiday. :-P

                                1. re: lynnlato

                                  Cookie ground zero: perfect description of my mom's kitchen back when. Love it!

                              2. No one up here has ever heard of them! My grandmother from Juniata always made them, and maybe -- if I live to be 96 like her -- I'll someday be able to get them thin enough. Always rolled, round, with an egg wash and single pecan -- or a black walnut or hickory nut meat, if she could get it. VERY important: make them in late Nov/early December, store them in an old potato chip tin, and HIDE WELL. They need to cure to be right.

                                1. Sand Tarts were my favorite Christmas cookie growing up in south central PA. Making these was definitely a 2 person operation and we made ours differently than the usual rolled Sand Tarts. We used the usual recipe but instead of rolling the dough we formed them into logs, wrapped them in wax paper and put them in the freezer overnight. We chilled several sharp knives as well. Next morning we took out the frozen dough and began to slice it very thin. As soon as the knife and dough warmed, back it went into the freezer and the next knife and log came out. This method yielded a much more delicate cookie than the rolled Sand tarts. We decorated with red and green sugar or cinnamon. We also stored ours in a Charles Chip can!

                                  1. We had these too when I was growing up. My 80-something great aunt, who lived with us, was the only one who could make them: she rolled the dough paper-thin, thin enough that the light showed through them. We cut them into diamonds, I think, and sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar and chopped walnuts. The recipe came from Showalter's The Mennonite Community Cookbook...I have a copy of that book that I think belonged to my grandmother, my mom still has our aunt's copy.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gimlis1mum

                                      I have that cookbook too! Lots of very good recipes, local ones you don't find in national cookbooks. I always try to buy church cookbooks too, the ones where parishioners put their Grandmother's favorite recipes in. Generally a treasure trove of great recipes a sort of local history through food.