This past Saturday would have been my Grandma Fay’s birthday. I was very close to my grandma growing up, especially during my teenage years. During that time she lived just a few blocks from my house, so I was able to ride my bike there any time I wanted to see her. This was heaven sent for me as my middle school years were often difficult, and my grandma was a wonderful source of comfort and companionship.

I have so many fond memories of time spent with my grandma – she was smart, kind and soft-spoken. She was full of sound advice and great wisdom and always treated me – regardless of my age – with the utmost respect. She was a wonderful listener and being with her made me feel loved, protected and understood. Just sitting in her bedroom, going through her boxes of costume jewelry (much of which I own and treasure today) made all of the pains and stresses of adolescence disappear – at least for a little while.

My grandma was also incredibly talented. There was literally nothing that involved using one’s hands that she did not excel at. Knitting. Sewing. Crochet. But for me, the greatest magic she performed was in the kitchen – especially her baking. She was a masterful baker at a time when there was no Martha, Ina or Magnolia. It was just something she did – seemingly effortlessly –  and was well-known for amongst our family and friends.

When I moved into my first apartment (with my very own KitchenAid mixer!) I asked my grandma to teach me how to bake. I was as much in awe of her process as I was of the goodies she produced. She was meticulous in the kitchen, orderly, organized and methodical. I wanted to be just like her and was thrilled that she was going to share all of her secrets with me.

butter cookies

The very first thing I wanted to make were her butter cookies. This may sound a little boring, but until you’ve had one, you couldn’t possibly know that they literally put all other dry, crumbly, tasteless bakery versions to shame. Made with just 4 ingredients (5 if you count the chocolate chips used here), they are indescribably delicious. They practically evaporate in your mouth, leaving behind the most wonderful sensation of crunch, butter and a touch of sweetness.

butter cookies

butter cookies

The beauty of these cookies lies in their simplicity – no eggs, salt or leavening agents are used, yet they are lighter and more delicate than their shortbread cousins. I own all of my grandma’s baking pans and tools and my most prized possession is the cookie press she used to make these cookies. It is very old and more than a little battered. The handle fell off years ago so I need to wrap the tube in plastic wrap so that the dough doesn’t seep out of the holes where the handle was once attached. But I will never part with it as I always feel her presence when I hold it in my hands.

butter cookies

butter cookies

butter cookies

Like most cookie presses, this one comes with various discs – I use the flower shape, since that’s what my grandma always used. It is perfect for holding a chocolate chip in the middle, which looks so pretty and gives a hint of richness without overwhelming the delicacy of the cookie itself. This is not a fancy, complex cookie, and looks pretty unassuming when displayed in an assortment on a dessert buffet. In fact, it is often the last to get picked. Until someone eventually tries one and – each and every time – closes her eyes, savors what she’s just eaten and says, “WHAT is in these cookies?”

And that is the beauty of Fay. I can only aspire to be half as accomplished she was, but I am grateful that I had so many years with her, as she is the person who set me on the path to being the baker I am today. Baking is my greatest joy and Fay is with me whenever I’m in the kitchen. Which is the most lovely, warm and special feeling.

I am proud to share this cherished recipe with you, and hope that it becomes a beloved favorite in your family too.

Butter Cookies
from Fay

½ lb. butter, room temp
1/3 c. sugar (2 ½ oz.)
4 t. vanilla
2 c. flour (10 oz.)

chocolate chips or other decorations (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Cream butter and sugar – beat in vanilla, then flour. Using a cookie press, press shapes onto ungreased baking sheets, about 1″ apart. Top each with a chocolate chip.*

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Carefully transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes 6-7 dozen, depending on the size of the disc you use.

(print this recipe)

This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver

Note: feel free to double the recipe, as these cookies freeze beautifully. If you want to go all out “Fay-style”, store the cookies, in layers separated by waxed paper, in a shoe box. Make sure you re-use the waxed paper multiple times as it’s perfectly good and why would you throw it away just because it has a few crumbs on it?

butter cookies

* there is almost always a double chip on at least 1 cookie (see photo, above) – you always felt like you won a prize when you found it, and my kids still look for the “double” when I make these today.


  1. Kerri Warner on June 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Lovely, lovely sentiments in this post, gorgeous photographs…and absolutely delicious cookies as I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in your perfect rendition of Fay’s famous!

    • sheri silver on June 14, 2011 at 6:56 am

      Thanks Kerri – especially for the “seal of approval” on the cookies!

  2. lily on June 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. The way you describe family members is so touching. The way you describe food, baking, tastes, and smells is delightful for the reader!

    • sheri silver on June 14, 2011 at 6:55 am

      Thanks Lily – that means so much to me! 🙂

  3. Andrea Elliott on June 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Fay must have been a wonderful Grandmother! Thank you for sharing your cherished recipe and the lovely story. I look forward to more family stories.

    • sheri silver on June 14, 2011 at 6:54 am

      She WAS wonderful – thanks so much!

  4. Sheila Sackler on June 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I was fortunate to have met your lovely grandma many years ago. Afterall, I did introduce your parents and know they just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary (they are married two weeks longer than Mike and I.) I discovered pressed or “spritz” cookies last November when visiting our daughter, Karen, in CO. We went to a fair where Pampered Chef had a display and cookies such as the Fay cookies were available to taste. I purchased the Pampered Chef cookie press and have made many variations of the Fay cookie, but none with such few ingredients. If you want my sour cream spritz cookie recipe, let me know — and I will definitely make the Fay cookies soon. Hugs.

    • sheri silver on June 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks Sheila – and Happy Anniversary to you and Mike! xoxo

  5. Kathy on November 23, 2011 at 8:44 am

    What a beautiful story. Some of my most cherished memories of my own grandmother are around her baking and cooking. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story and you great recipe! I hope you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving. I’m sure your grandmother must be so proud of you!!

    • sheri silver on November 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely note – that post is one of my very favorites and it means so much to know that it reached you in that way. A very happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  6. Caren with a "C" on November 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Oh, you brought back memories of my grandma for me. She is supposed to pass away this week and so we have been thinking about her a lot. She made the best chocolate chip cookies and she had a lot of costume jewelry she let us try on as little girls. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • sheri silver on November 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      Oh I’m so sorry! Grandmothers are so special and although I miss mine very much I feel so grateful to have had all the wonderful years (and now memories! – thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Dez on November 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Yum!! This recipe sounds sooo good and seems very easy to do. I don’t own a cookie press, but we’ll see how this comes out! Thanks for sharing!

    • sheri silver on November 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Thank you! You know, I’d love to hear how these turn out without using a press – let me know! Thanks for writing! 🙂

  8. […] Silver of “Donuts, Dresses and Dirt” uses a cookie press prepare these butter cookies and keep portions small, which controls calories (at least, until you taste one and want more), and […]

  9. […] Silver of “Donuts, Dresses and Dirt” uses a cookie press prepare these butter cookies and keep portions small, which controls calories (at least, until you taste one and want more), and […]

  10. […] Silver of “Donuts, Dresses and Dirt” uses a cookie press prepare these butter cookies and keep portions small, which controls calories (at least, until you taste one and want more), and […]

  11. Roz on December 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I made these without the press and they are wonderful! So buttery and light. Thank you for sharing.

    • sherisilver on December 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      They’re good, right?? So glad you liked them!

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