Grandma Bill’s Raisin Filled Cookies

  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 325
  • Views: 8861
  • Comments: 0

This recipe comes from Tami's Grandmother's Grandmother from Western Pennsylvania. This is a classic recipe.


I worked on it to make some changes in the dough and recipe so it is easier to work with. I also rewrote the instructions. The original recipe called for milk, which made the dough very sticky. But, I changed the ingredient to sour cream, which made for a very soft, tender cookie that went better with the gooey, sweet raisin filling. I also have replaced the baking soda/cream of tartar blend, which was, in the olden days, a homemade combination for single acting baking powder, with double acting baking powder, which is what is found today.

I added lemon peel to the raisin filling so it was not as sweet. I like to make the filling with orange juice instead of water so it is more flavorful.

I also find it is easier to work with cold ingredients from the refrigerator. This helps prevent the dough from becoming too soft while you mix it together. And, you do not want to excessively aerate the mixture during creaming or when adding the egg and egg yolk. It is very important that you fold the flour and dry ingredients into the mixture with a large rubber spatula so you do not further aerate the mixture and soften the dough.

3 cups unbleached flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim (if the dough is too sticky you may need 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup more)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup shortening or cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg, cold
1 large egg yolk, cold
1/2 cup sour cream, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the dough:
1. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, preferably with a hand held mixer, cream the shortening and sugar until smooth, but NOT light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until smooth. Do NOT mix until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl, and add the sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Do NOT mix until light and fluffy. Scrape.

3. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the baking powder and flour. If it is still extremely sticky add about 1/4 cup more flour and fold it in before deciding to add more to make a soft, slightly tacky dough. If you need more, add flour a tablespoon at a time.

4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and wrap in plastic wrap, shape in a rectangle and press to 1/2 inch thick. This will make the rolling easily. Refrigerate no less than overnight.

Raisin Filling
1 cup orange juice or water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon peel

2 cups raisins

2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
2-3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 - 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

To make the filling:
SARAH SAYS: You can make the filling when you make the cookie dough or a couple of days ahead. Just refrigerate the filling after it has cooled. Bring to room temperature before using in the recipe.

1. Place the water, sugars and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and add the raisins. Bring to a boil under medium-low heat. Add the nuts and continue cooking for several minutes until it begins to look a little syrupy. Turn down the heat to low.

2. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and water in a medium dish to make a slurry.

3. With the raisin mixture still cooking on low, slowly some of the hot syrup mixture to the cornstarch slurry and combine until mixed. Add the cornstarch slurry / hot syrup mixture back into the boiling mixture, and stir it constantly to combine. The mixture in the cooking pot will become thick.

4. Keep stirring and boiling for a minute or so to cook out the starch. Do not overcook, otherwise the mixture will start to thin. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Pour into a clean bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap on its surface, and set aside to cool completely to room temperature. It will take a couple of hours to cool. Refrigerate if storing overnight.
SARAH SAYS: If you need the use the mixture right away, to cool faster, place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with water and ice cubes. Stir frequently to cool. It will take awhile.

SARAH SAYS: I place the dough in the freezer to chill it even more right before rolling. It will help when I have to roll it. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to roll, fold the dough in half if rolled or leave as is and refrigerate until cold; do not ball the dough up again into a disk or rectangular shape - the more you handle the dough, because it contains wheat flour and cream cheese, the more it will become harder to handle.

1. Position the oven shelf in the middle of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with greased parchment paper; the raisin filling sometimes leaks and makes a mess.

2. Roll the bottom of the cookies: On a lightly floured surface roll one of the dough rectangles out to about 1/4-inch thick. Keep the other dough rectangle in the refrigerator to continue to chill.
SARAH SAYS: I like to roll soft dough in between two sheets of parchment paper. It makes it easier to roll the dough.

Cut out circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter.
SARAH SAYS: Reroll the cookie scraps only once. To use the scraps, simple press them one on top of another and reroll; do not ball them up to reroll.

3. Place the bottom circle on parchment covered sheet pans and then put a dab of COLD filling in the center. Place the pan in the refrigerator while rolling the tops.
SARAH SAYS: Do not overfill the cookies otherwise the cookies will crack during baking and leak filling.

4. Roll the tops of the cookies: Roll the top dough a hair thinner than the bottoms and cut from the 2 3/4-inch round cookie cutter or one slightly larger than 2 1/2-inches.
SARAH SAYS: I like to cut the tops from the cookie cutter the next size up from the nesting circle cutter set; this way the top dough covers the filling a bit better.

5. Lightly brush with a little water all the way around the edges of the bottom with the filling and then place on the top. Press the edges down with your fingertip so the two edges seal together. With a sharp knife, cut a small 1/8-inch slit in the top of the cookie so steam can escape during baking and so the cookies will not split apart and have the filling leak out.

6. Bake in a preheated oven under a watchful eye, until the tops turn an evenly light golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a minute and then move to a wire cake rack to cool.

The unbaked or baked cookies freeze well for a month or more in a wax paper lined air tight container. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days. Refrigerate if storing longer.

Other Recipes