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Holiday Recipe: Butter Horns

December 2, 2015


A Family Holiday Recipe: Butter Horns


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



As the curtain goes up on the December holiday stage, do you have visions of sugarplums and other holiday treats dancing in your head? Through a recent perusal of my mother’s Royal Neighbors’ Cookbook, my sister and I found another traditional recipe which my mother made many times, especially during the Christmas season. This old cookbook, as I noted in last week’s blog post, not only included recipes from Royal Neighbors, but also blank spaces wherein the cook could write her own recipes. Thus, my mom wrote a number of her recipes in the blank spaces. Somewhat surprisingly, Mother wrote some of her recipes in pencil; so, in a few spots, the script is a bit faded. Nevertheless, I do imagine that she wrote in pencil so that she could make the changes to suit her taste and baking experience. (If you find recipes of older family members in pencil, I suggest that you photocopy the penciled recipes to better preserve the totality of the contents.)


Butter Horns have been a part of our family’s holiday fare for at least fifty years. Of course, the recipe includes walnuts–a favorite ingredient of my mother for her baking. Although I believe my mother was the first in the family to make this recipe, my aunts (especially Aunt Lydia and Aunt Kathy) and some cousins have also made this recipe very well. Due to the shape of these pastries, my younger cousin B.J. immediately dubbed these holiday treats “Tornados.” I hope that you will take a whirl at making the following family recipe during this Christmas season.


Mother’s Butter Horns


(a recipe of Mary A. Massa, 1914-2001)


  1. Cut one-half pound butter (or margarine) into two cups sifted flour.
  2. Add one beaten egg yolk and three-fourths cup sour cream; mix well.
  3. When flour mixture is well blended, shape into a ball.
  4. Sprinkle flour onto ball; wrap well in waxed paper, and refrigerate overnight or at least three hours.
  5. Combine three-fourths cup sugar, one teaspoon ground cinnamon, three-fourths cup chopped nuts (walnuts), and one-half cup coconut,.
  6. Sprinkle flour onto pastry board.
  7. Divide refrigerated dough into three parts.
  8. Using one part of dough at a time, roll out dough (with a rolling pin) into the shape of a circle, to the thickness of one-eighth inch.
  9. Like topping a pizza, sprinkle sugar mixture onto large circle of dough.
  10. Cut each circle of dough into twelve wedges.
  11. Roll up each wedge by starting with the widest end.
  12. Place rolls on a greased baking sheet or cookie sheet.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately twenty minutes. Do not underbake: pastry should be golden brown.
  14. When Butter Horns are cool, place on a holiday serving tray and lightly cover with aluminum foil, or store in a plastic container. Of course, you may also want to eat a few of the “Tornados,” when they are warm.



For a festive beverage to serve with the Butter Horns, Please refer to the Wassail recipe in the archives of my Wordwalk blog–the post of December 4, 2013.


Happy Holiday Baking!

Alice and Zoe


December 2, 2015, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Morning Wisconsin. I’m forwarding this on to my wife. They sound delish. Keep on baking! dp

  2. Thanks for sharing Mother’s delicious Butter Horn recipe, Alice. I can hardly believe that I have never made the famous tornados! They are definitely on my holiday baking list for this year. Several years ago my dear friend Gina La Roche Amerman reminded me that Mother had made Butter Horns for Gina and Dave’s wedding reception. Gina still makes the special treat for her family as does her cousin Marla McDonald Iacoli, who is also a longtime friend of mine. Sometimes both Gina and Marla substitute jam and other fillings as variations to the original recipe. My plan is to bring the original Butter Horns to our preschool staff holiday get-together, so perhaps Mother’s recipe will become a family tradition for some of my Colorado friends.
    Happy Holidays to you and Zoe!
    Love, Mary

  3. Alice, I am sharing this on my FB page – this recipe sounds so delicious. I have the recipe boxes of my mother and two of my aunts and you are inspiring me to begin to dig into those recipes in the future and find the treasures I remember from their kitchens. Lynda

    • Lynda–Thanks for spreading the recipe for the Butter Horns. My cousin in Florida is planning to make the Butter Horns with pecans, instead of walnuts. I will be eager to read your family cookbook. Jolly Holidays! Alice

  4. Carole permalink

    Thanks, Alice, for reminding me of the delicious Butter Horns! I don’t remember BJ referring to them as tornadoes, but I do remember the sweet, buttery treats. Yes, pecans, it will be; but the walnuts were very good, too. Happy holidays! Love, Carole

  5. Sue McKendry permalink

    Thanks for printing the Butter Horns recipe. My mom also made them, but I never got the recipe before she stopped baking altogether. I also loved the Christmas story — bittersweet, but a true Christmas spirit! Merry Christmas to you and Zoe!

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