Tailgating. . . fall campfires on chilly evenings . . . kids’ (and adults’) Halloween parties. . . They all call for hearty cookies. And (of course), I found a hundred-year-old recipe that fits the bill. Spice Cookies are a molasses cookie spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. These cookies are slightly crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside.
Here’s the original recipe:
This recipe was on a page in the old cookbook that was covered with (nearly 100-year-old?) food stains. Was this recipe a particular favorite of the original owner of the cookbook?
Preheat oven to 375° F. Put molasses in a dutch oven or a large saucepan; bring to a boil using medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, butter, and shortening or lard. Add ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda, stir to combine. Then add flour and eggs, and stir until well-mixed. Refrigerate dough 1/2 hour or until chilled. On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch circles. (I used an upside-down water glass as the cookie cutter.) Place on greased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Do not over cook if a moist cookie is desired.
I’m always on the look-out for “healthy” hundred-year-old cookie recipes, so I was thrilled when I came across a recipe for Honey Wafers. The recipe uses honey as the primary sweetener – though it does contain a small amount of sugar.
Old-fashioned Honey Wafers are delightful with coffee. They have a distinct honey flavor, with mild undertones of lemon. Don’t expect these cookies to taste like sugar cookies.
I used a 2-inch in diameter round cookies cutter when making these cookies. This was a good size. Small is better. The honey is very predominant, and made for savoring.
These cookies got relatively hard after a day or two, but were still good. They could also be softened by putting in an airtight container with a slice or two of apple.
2 3/4 cups pastry flour (All-purpose flour can be substituted.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2-4 tablespoons milk, if needed
Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine butter, sugar, honey, and lemon extract in a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, stir to combine. Add flour, stir until well-mixed. If the mixture is too dry, add milk to create a dough with a consistency that can be easily rolled.
On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Chinese Chews. The recipe was for walnut and date cookie balls. Why were they called Chinese? Were the balls supposed to seem special because the name evoked thoughts of exotic, far away places? I think of the middle east when I think of dates – but not China. That said, improbably named recipes inevitably intrigue me, so the next thing I knew I was making Chinese Chews.
Chinese Chews are a sweet chewy treat, and would make a nice addition to a holiday cookie tray.
They were fun to make. The dough is spread thinly in a pan or baking sheet, and then baked until it just begins to brown. The baked dough is then removed from the oven, cut into pieces, and rolled into balls which are then coated in granulated sugar.
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs. Then stir in the dates and walnuts. Spread thinly on a baking sheet. (There may not be enough to cover the entire sheet.) Place in the oven and bake until the dough sets and just begins to brown (about 15 minutes). The baked dough should look “not quite done.” Remove from oven and cool about five minutes.
Use a spatula to remove the baked dough from the pan Take chunks of the baked dough and shape into 1-inch balls. (Don’t worry if baked dough comes out of the pan in odd-shaped pieces. I put all the pieces in a bowl, and intentionally combined some of the “crustier” portions from the edge of the pan with some of the softer portions from the center to make balls that had a nice consistency.) Roll each ball in granulated sugar. Work quickly because the balls are easier to shape when the dough is still warm.
Cook’s note: The hundred-year-old recipe called for pastry flour. I used all-purpose flour and it worked fine.
Tis the season . . . for baking cookies. Old-fashioned, traditional cookies are my favorite, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Hermits. Hermits are a soft, spicy, raisin cookie. They have been around a long time so there are lots of variations. This recipe was for the traditional drop cookie version.
The Hermits were delightful. They had a lovely texture and the right amount of chewiness. The old-fashioned goodness of the Hermits was enhanced by just the right amount of cinnamon and mace, and a hint of molasses.
The recipe was easy to make–and would be a perfect addition to a holiday cookie tray.
Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
And, here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Put butter in a large mixing bowl, and stir (cream) until smooth; then stir in the brown sugar. Stir in milk, molasses, eggs, cinnamon, mace, and baking powder. Add flour, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Add raisins, and stir gently to distribute the raisins throughout the dough. Drop rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
I love peanut butter cookies, so when I found a hundred-year-old recipe for peanut butter cut-out cookies I had to give it a try.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made this recipe, it quickly became apparent that something was wrong. When I combined all the ingredients, I had a thick batter instead of a dough–and there was no way I could roll it out. I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with the original recipe, but I decided that the best way to salvage it was to add additional flour – lots of flour. The resulting soft dough rolled out nicely.
The verdict: The cookies were nothing like modern peanut butter cookies, but if you can totally suspend expectations, the cookies were good. The old-fashioned cake-like cookies had a hint of peanut butter, and are lovely with milk or coffee.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the butter, peanut butter, and sugar in a mixing bowl, stir to combine. Stir in the egg and milk, then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well-mixed. Refrigerate dough 1/2 hour or until chilled.
On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 9-11 minutes.
Cookie season is here, and it’s time to start baking for the holidays. Of course, I just had to try a “new” hundred-year-old recipe.
I selected a recipe for Coconut Cream Cookies that was in a small promotional cookbook published in 1911 for KC Baking Powder.
The cookies are an old-fashioned soft, chewy cookie, with a very delicate creamy coconut taste. Their mild flavor makes them perfect for nibbling while sipping a cup of coffee.
The recipe didn’t call or any butter or shortening–and I was surprised that it was possible to make cookies without it. The cream in the recipe apparently provided adequate fat to create a nice cookie texture—however, the cookies weren’t as flavorful as many modern cookies.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine eggs, sugar, and cream. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; stir to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add water until a soft dough of rolling consistency forms. Stir in the coconut.
Roll out the dough one-fourth inch thick. Sprinkle with coconut, pressing in lightly. Cut into rounds; press a nut meat into the center of each cookie. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or just until set and the coconut garnish is just beginning to toast.
Note: I used a 2-inch diameter cookie cutter. The coconut in the cookie dough makes this dough a little more difficult to handle than many modern doughs. A spatula can be used to transfer the cut cookies to the baking sheet.
Yield: Approximately 42 cookies
Here is the original recipe.
I had to make some adaptations to the recipe. I guessed that “1 coffee C sugar” was about 3/4 cup of sugar.
When I followed the recipe, the dough was extremely dry. I added additional cream, as well as water, to achieve a dough that could be rolled. Perhaps a hundred years ago, eggs were larger than the typical “large egg” of today. Also, I used all-purpose flour rather than pastry flour–and I didn’t sift it; that might have affected the amount of liquid needed.
I also changed the spelling of coconut from “cocoanut” to “coconut” when I revised the recipe. I never see it spelled with an “a” in modern cookbooks, so I’m guessing that it’s an archaic spelling.
18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, January 14, 1914: Did some experimenting in the baking line this afternoon. Didn’t turn out so bad either. That’s ‘bout all I can think of at present.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
What did you make? Maybe some Raisin-Filled Cookies? I remember that we often had them during the winter when I was a kid. They made the perfect after-school snack on cold winter days.
Old-fashioned Raisin-Filled Cookies
3/4 cup raisins
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup water
Combine all filling ingredients and cook over medium heat until thick.
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine shortening, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and soda; then stir in flour. Roll thin and cut into cookies using a round cutter. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Put a spoonful of filling (don’t overfill) in center of cookie. Top with another cookie that has a small circle cut in the center. Firmly press edges together.
Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until cookie is lightly browned.
I have a set of round fondant cut-out cutters. I used the large cutter to make the cookies—and then cut the hole in the center of the top cookies using the small cutter.
When I was a child we made cookies that were a little larger. We used a doughnut cutter that had a removable hole cutter. We removed the hole cutter to make the bottom cookie.