[These cookies were originally posted wayyyyy back in February 2009. I wanted to revive them from the archives because they deserved some new and improved pictures, and, most importantly, because these were always a Thanksgiving tradition in our family.]
I rarely associate Thanksgiving dessert with anything other than things like pie (pumpkin, pecan, apple, oh my!), pumpkin rolls, carrot cakes and gingerbread trifles. The cookie baking tends to ramp up the week after Thanksgiving when all of the Christmas baking kicks off, but there is one cookie that will forever and always remind me of Thanksgiving… These “pillow” cookies.
In our family, they were simply referred to as pillows; I have no idea how they got that name, but I guess is that it’s because they’re little puffs of deliciousness 🙂 These are essentially little nut rolls that have been baked and dipped in a basic powdered sugar icing. Growing up, Thanksgiving was a huge deal. All of my grandfather’s family lived outside of Chicago and many of them would travel here to Pittsburgh for the week to celebrate the holiday. The week before they showed up, my grandma made batch after batch of these cookies, on top of all the other cooking and prepping that was required for a house full of people for a week plus hosting a major holiday for well over 20 people. Somehow though, my grandma never, ever made it look like actual work. She was absolutely in her glory.
While these little nut rolls might look a little high maintenance, they really couldn’t be easier to make. If you have a food processor, the filling comes together in less than five minutes. In keeping with my grandma’s tradition, I make the dough using a hand mixer and keep the stand mixer on the shelf. After the dough and filling are made, it’s a simple process of rolling out the dough, spreading the filling and rolling it up and cutting into slices.
I always remembered my grandma’s cookies being smooth on top, but last year my mom was at my house when I was making them and said my grandma always baked them cut-side-up. No matter how I bake them, I can’t get them to look exactly like my grandma’s, but they still taste just like hers!
Since my grandma passed away, I’ve made sure that these cookies have been on my Thanksgiving dessert menu every year. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them! The best part is that whatever we don’t finish after Thanksgiving dinner can be frozen for Christmas trays.
My grandma’s famous cookies – miniature nut roll cookies covered in a simple icing.