Old-Fashioned Sand Tarts

Are there some types of cookies that immediately bring back warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. Well, for me, Sand Tarts are that cookie. This thin, crispy cookie is my all-time favorite.  My mother never made them (I’m not sure why.), so I was always thrilled when they were on a cookie tray at church or a friend’s house.

I recently found an awesome hundred-year-old Sand Tart recipe that makes cookies just like I remembered.  The cookies are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (“sand”), and taste almost like a thin Snickerdoodle. (Does anyone eat Snickerdoodles any more?)

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

This recipe originally appeared the American Cookery magazine during World War I. There were sugar shortages during the war. Even though the magazine chose to publish the recipe, the editors encouraged cooks not to make Sand Tarts because they “call for more sugar than ordinary cookies.”

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sand Tarts

  • Servings: approximately 75 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar + 2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 extra-large egg + 1 egg yolk (or 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

whole almonds or raisins (I used almonds.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine, then set aside.

Cream the shortening; beat in the 2 cups of sugar, and the whole egg and yolk. Then stir in the flour and salt. The dough will be crumbly, but will cling together when pressed together. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Roll out dough out until it is very thin (1/8 inch thick). Cut into rounds or, if desired, other shapes; and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush cookies with the egg-white, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set an almond or raisin in the center of each cookie. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

39 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Sand Tarts

  1. Like you, I adore this style of biscuit, so thanks. Being a Brit, of course I have no idea about Snickerdoodles, but that’s OK. You’ve told us what they’re like. All best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

    1. My guess is that you’d like Sand Tarts better than Snickerdoodles. Both have a similar flavor, but Sand Tarts are crispy and thin, while Snickerdoodles are thicker, soft, and chewy. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

  2. I don’t know about your Mom, but I -never-enjoyed making any kind of “roll out” cookie dough ; ) Just takes too long, I prefer “drop” cookies. And yes, this lady still occasionally makes and loves Snickerdoodles (because my Godmother often had them w/tea) Memories! xo

    1. I love Snickerdoodles, too – though am not sure that I’ve made them since my children have been grown. You might be right about my mother not particularly liking to make cookies that needed to be rolled out. She always made one recipe that required being rolled out (cut-out cookies using a sugar cookie recipe), then shifted to making drop and bar cookies.

  3. Yes! That is an instant childhood memory and I can smell them by just thinking about the cookies. Making Sand Tarts was a big event and I think we did it over two days. I believe it may be a PA Dutch tradition.

  4. I was going to comment about still making snickerdoodles because we do. The kids love them, I love them. It reminds me of eating cinnamon toast when I was a kid. Sandtarts look delicious. I believe I have a recipe for them also.

    1. It’s been awhile since I’ve made Snickerdoodles, but ever since I made the Sand Tarts I’ve been thinking about Snickerdoodles and may make them this year. I like your description of how Snickerdoodles remind you of eating cinnamon toast as a kid.

  5. This is a favorite of mine. If you pick out an glass that has a decorative bottom and use it to press down to make it will look more like a sand dollar. That is what was done when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing this wonderful simple recipe.

    1. My gut feeling is that Snickerdoodles are less popular now than what they used to be; that said, I’ll always like them. It’s fascinating how some types of cookies to tend to trend up or down in popularity over the years.

  6. I don’t think I’ve made sand tarts…made lots of snickerdoodles though. I also make a sour cream cookie that you roll in cinnamon and sugar before baking. Great recipe for using up old sour cream that starting to grow the unwanteds.😀

    1. The sour cream cookie that is rolled in cinnamon sounds wonderful, and a great way to use up sour cream. I often have sour cream languishing in my refrigerator.

    2. Deb! Do a post with this recipe! Not now, if you’re too busy, but someday. My grandmother made THE BEST sour cream cookies and I really would love your version.

    1. hmm. . . that’s a good idea for a future post. Maybe I’ll have to look and see if I can find a hundred-year-old Snickerdoodle recipe. (And, if you don’t want to wait for me to get around to doing a Snickerdoodle post, there are lots of Snickerdoodle recipes online.) 🙂

  7. Hi, my parents came from Pennsylvania dutch heritage, and we almost always made Sand Tarts according to my grandmother’s recipe when I was growing up. We would always freeze the dough before rolling out, though, because otherwise it would be too soft and sticky (I don’t recall it ever being crumbly. I’m surprised none of the recipes I’ve seen so far recommend freezing or refrigerating the dough.) Also, we would also use this recipe for iced cookies. BTW, pecan halves are also good instead of almonds. Thanks for the post!

    1. Sand tarts are definitely part of my family heritage. I also grew up in Pennsylvania. Interpreting hundred-year-old recipes is always a bit of a challenge, but the dough definitely tended toward crumbly; but it rolled out okay and the cookies turned out well.

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