Christmas Lizzies

Christmas Lizzies
by Marcelle Bienvenu

Rat-a-tat-tat. The intermittent sound of pecans falling onto the tin roof of my office building is almost deafening. From my window, I see my neighbor on her hands and knees, scrambling to pick up newly fallen nuts. Squirrels are foraging for them as well in the shallow ditch along the lane that leads to my house. It’s nearing the end of pecan season, and everyone wants to build up his stash for the winter.

I remember my mother handing paper sacks and baskets to my siblings and me after school and ordering us to pick as much as we could before the sun would set on the early, chilly nights. After supper, Mama cracked the pecans with an old wooden gadget and piled them up in a box on a TV tray. It was Papa’s job to pick the pecans from their shells while he watched his favorite television programs.

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, the pecans that were carefully stored in our large outdoor freezer were at the ready for making a plethora of delights. Ah, the aromas that wafted from Mama’s big kitchen—roasted pecans tossed with butter and sugar, creamy pralines and chocolate fudge, and pecan pies. My favorite treats were Christmas Lizzies. These cookies as well as pecan tassies (miniature pecan pies) always bring to mind Mama’s friend, Ms. Doreen, who often made these treats for me when I slept over at her house during the holidays. Her home, which is mine now, was small, but it had a fireplace, in front of which Ms. Doreen and I would sit and eat her pecan treats and drink her special hot chocolate. Ms. Doe, as I called her, often lamented that she wasn’t a great cook, but oh, she could bake! 

Baking isn’t my strongest suit, but I can make her lizzies, which I often do during the holidays. Now it’s my turn to have youngsters come for sleepovers at my little cottage on the bayou. And by the fireplace is still the best place to nibble on these little pecan-studded cookies.

Christmas Lizzies
Yields 48
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  1. ¼ cup butter, softened
  2. ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  5. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  6. ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  8. ¼ cup bourbon
  9. 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  10. 1 cup red candied cherries, chopped
  11. 1 cup green candied cherries, chopped
  12. 1 cup dark raisins
  13. 1 cup golden raisins
  14. 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 300º. Spray large sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, and mix well. Add ¾ cup flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, bourbon, and buttermilk. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup flour, cherries, raisins, and pecans, shaking to remove any excess flour. Add fruit and nuts to dough, and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared pan.
  4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until browned. Let cool completely on pans. Store in airtight containers.
Louisiana Cookin

Marcelle Bienvenu was born into a large Acadian family for which good cooking is an article of faith. She is a chef–instructor at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University and a prolific cookbook author. Visit her online at


  1. My grandma always loved to make Lizzies, and I loved to eat them — but I’ve never had the recipe before. Thank you Marcella! But I don’t understand the single tablespoon of buttermilk in such a large recipe. Do I really need to go and buy buttermilk for this recipe?

    • Thanks for asking! We like to have buttermilk powder around the house for cases like this (just add water!) but you can also mix 1/3 cup milk (whole, 2 percent or skim) with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar.

  2. My grandmother made Lizzies during the holiday season when I was growing up. The aroma of baking Christmas Lizzies always filled the house. Her recipe for Lizzies is similar to yours, however, her X large recipe called for 2 lbs of both red and green candied cherries, 2 lbs of colored candied pineapple, 6 cups of chopped pecans, 1 cup of whiskey (she used 1/2 cup), 1 lb. white raisins. She used 3 Tbs whole milk. I am not finding candied cherries and pineapple in the local supermarkets in my area this year. I did find them for sale online and I am considering ordering them but I am worried about freshness. 4 pounds of candied fruit could run as high as $70 but I need to bake enough of these goodies for both my husband and I and our children’s families.


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