MAKES 3-4 dozen cookies
Hownie was the family housekeeper of my late wife Paula’s grandfather John Folinsbee’s Great Aunt Jem. So, this family recipe has been handed down and baked every Christmas for more than 120 years! Today my daughter Heather bakes them every year and makes them into wonderful shapes. So do her many cousins. They are so, so good.
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Colored sprinkles (or chocolate chips, slivered almonds, etc.)
In a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, cream together the sugar, butter, and cream cheese . Gently incorporate the flour. Divide the dough into two flat rounds, each about 1 inch thick, and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough very, very thin and cut with cookie cutters, transferring the cookies to ungreased cookie sheets. Gather up the dough scraps, knead them together, roll out, and cut again.
In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk and cream. Brush this mixture over the top surfaces of the cookies. Then, lightly decorate the cookies with sprinkles or other decorations.
Bake the cookies just until their edges start to turn golden, checking frequently, 5 to 10 minutes depending on your oven and the thickness of the cookies. Remove from the oven promptly and, with a spatula, transfer to cooling racks. When completely cooled, store in airtight tins.