Old-fashioned Trilbies (Date-Filled Cookies)

Trilbies (Date-filled Cookies) on baking sheet

My holiday cookie baking has begun. Today I made a hundred-year-old recipe for Trilbies. They are a lovely date-filled cookie that brings back warm memories of day gone by.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe of Trilbies Cookies
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book compiled by the Ladies of the West Concord Union Church, Concord Junction, Massachusetts (1921}

A hundred years ago recipes sometimes called for sour milk. Back then much milk was not pasteurized and it soured after a few days. This sour milk was sometimes used in recipes. Today milk can be soured by adding a little vinegar to it.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Trilbies (Data-Filled Cookies)

  • Servings: Approximately 40 Cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cookies

1/2 cup sour milk (Make milk sour by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar to the milk)

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400° F. Put the milk in a cup or small bowl. Stir in the vinegar to sour the milk. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Stir in the sour milk, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla. Then add the flour and rolled oats; stir until combined. On well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or small glass. (The cookie cutter I used was 2 inches in diameter.)  Place half the circles on greased baking sheets.  Place a heaping teaspoon of date filling (see recipe below) on each circle and spread to the edges of the cookies; put a second cookie on top of each date-filling topped cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Date-Filling

1 pound chopped dates

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

Put the chopped dates, sugar, and water into a saucepan and stir to mix; put on medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until the dates are soft and the filling a nice consistency for the cookie filling (5-10 minutes). Cool slightly before using as a filling.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Cornflake Fancies

Even though I don’t often think about it, a wide range of commercially-produced foods were available a hundred years ago. Cornflakes was one of those products. According to Wikipedia, William Kellogg invented cornflakes in 1894 to serve to patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. They were first mass-marketed in 1906. And, soon thereafter, people began, not only eating them for breakfast, but also using them in recipes.

I came across a recipe for Cornflake Fancies in a 1921 church cookbook. The recipe is made by folding cornflakes and coconut flakes into beaten egg whites that have been sweetened with sugar, and then placing heaping teaspoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet. They are then baked until lightly browned The Cornflake Fancies were light and airy, and reminded me a little of Coconut Macaroons, but with a slight crunch from the cereal.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Cornflake Fancies
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book compiled by the Ladies of West Concord Union Church (Concord Junction, MA) (1921)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cornflake Fancies

  • Servings: about 2 1/2 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 teaspoon salt

2 cups cornflakes

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg whites in bowl and beat until stiff. Gradually add the sugar and salt, while continuing to beat. Fold in the cornflakes and coconut. Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture about 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake until set and lightly browned (about 10 – 12 minutes). Remove from oven, and let sit for about two minutes, then remove from the baking sheet with a spatula. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Nut Squares

 

Nut Squares on Plate

Warm weather is finally here, and I’m ready to sit on the porch with tea and a snack. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Nut Squares that said, “Very nice for afternoon tea,” I knew that I needed to try the recipe.

The Nut Squares were tasty and chock-full of nuts with a crispy crust and a chewy middle.  The one downside is that the crust had a tendency to crack and break when I cut the cookies into bars.

Here’s the original recipe:

Nut Squares on plate
Source: Ladies’ Union Cook Book (Concord Junction, MA, 1921)

I was surprised that the recipe did not call for any butter or shortening – though the cookies still had a nice texture. Perhaps the top crust may have had less tendency to break and crumble off the bars if the recipe had inclued butter or shortening.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Nut Squares

  • Servings: about 24 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups chopped nuts (I used chopped walnuts.)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put eggs in mixing bowl and beat. Add sugar, flour, and baking powder; beat until smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Bake until set and the top is light brown (about 25 – 30 minutes). Remove from oven. When partially cool cut into squares or 1 X 2 inch bars.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies

Gingerbread men on baking sheet

Making cut-out cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions, so I was thrilled to see a recipe in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for Gingerbread Men.

These delightful molasses and spice cookies are decorated with raisins or currants, and are a little thicker and chewier than some gingerbread cookies. They’d be lovely on a holiday cookie tray.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Gingerbread Men
Source: Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. II) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr (1920)

The caption under the illustration in the old textbook says, “Some suggestions to please the children.” Today Gingerbread Men often are topped with lots of colorful icing, and very sweet. Would children in 2020 be pleased by Gingerbread Men decorated with only raisins or currants? My gut feeling is that many today wouldn’t fully appreciate  this old-time flavorful, healthier option – and would miss the icing. Which is a pity. The Gingerbread Men were wonderful.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Gingerbread Men Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 18 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups flour

raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 375° F. Put shortening, brown sugar, egg, and molasses in mixing bowl; mix together. Add baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and flour; stir to combine. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness. (If too sticky to roll, add more flour.) Cut into shapes using a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter. Put on prepared baking sheet. Raisins or currants may be used for eyes, mouth, and buttons. (Cut raisins into several pieces if they are too large.) Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Cocoa Cookies (Chocolate Cut-out Cookies)

coffee mug and cookies on napkin

I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Cocoa Cookies that I just had to try. This recipe was actually a cut-out cookie recipe. The cookies had a crispy exterior with a softer, cake-like interior, and just the right amount of sweetness. They are lovely with coffee (or milk).

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for cocoa cookies
Source: New Royal Cook Book (1920), published by Royal Baking Powder Co.

When, I followed the recipe, the cookie dough was extremely dry and crumbly, so I added a second egg to make the dough a better consistency that could be rolled.

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cocoa Cookies (Chocolate Cut-out Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 40
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/4 cup butter or shortening (I used butter.)

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cocoa

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cream butter (or shortening) and sugar; then stir in milk and eggs.  Add the baking powder, salt, and cocoa; stir until combined. Add the flour and stir until well mixed. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick; then cut into shapes. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake 9-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Lemon Star Cookies

frosted star-shaped cookies on plate

Cut-out cookies are so much fun to make, and it’s a wonderful family activity, so I’m always on the look-out for hundred-year-old recipes for cut-out cookies. I recently found a wonderful recipe in a 1919 magazine for Lemon Star Cookies. The frosted cookies are sprinkled with chopped walnuts, and have a delicate lemon flavor.

I used buttercream frosting, though other types of frosting could be used. Any type of walnuts would work well in this recipe, but I had some black walnuts so used them. The bold, richness of the black walnuts combined perfectly with the sweetness of the frosting and the lemon in the cookies. This cookie is a winner – whether the cookies are cut into stars or some other shape.

Here’s photo of the cookies in the old magazine:

Frosted star-shaped cookies on plate
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1919)

All was good. The cookies tasted wonderful, and they looked similar to the photo of Lemon Star Cookies in the old magazine. Then the Saturday newspaper arrived on my doorstep. There was a beautiful feature showing how to make decorated cut-out cookies. It included directions for making royal icing, piping the icing to make an outline around the edge of the cookie, and then “flooding” the cookie with additional icing.

I suddenly realized that my cookies weren’t as awesome and picture-perfect as I’d thought a few minutes earlier. That said, the buttercream frosting I smeared on the top of the cookies with a knife is probably very similar to what cooks did a hundred years ago – so I keep telling myself that at least my cookies are authentic even if they aren’t Instagram perfect.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Lemon Star Cookies
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1919)

Lemon Star Cookies

  • Servings: 50 - 60 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

3/4 cup butter or margarine (I used butter.)

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 cups pastry flour (all-purpose flour can be substituted)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon lemon extract

white frosting (I used buttercream frosting.)

chopped walnuts (I used black walnuts, but the typical walnuts that are sold in stores also would work well.)

Preheat oven to 400° F. In a mixing bowl, cream the  butter (or margarine) together. Stir in the eggs, then add the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon extract. 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 shapes using a star cookie cutter (or use other shaped cutters, if preferred). Place on greased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks. Ice the cookies with the frosting, and then sprinkle chopped walnuts in the center of each cookie.

Old-Fashioned Sponge Drops

drop cookies on plate

On hot summer days many cookies seem too heavy, so I browsed through my hundred-year-old cookbooks for a light, summer cookie. And, I think that I found the perfect recipe. Sponge Drops are the “angel food” of cookies. They are light and airy with a hint of vanilla.

Though I didn’t try it, I think that these cookies would work well to make ice cream sandwiches.

I’m still intrigued by how many desserts a hundred years ago had the word “sponge” in the title. There were sponge cakes, sponge pies, this sponge cookie recipe – and two weeks ago, I made a recipe for Apricot Sponge. I think that sponge refers to desserts with lots of beaten eggs that give them a certain lightness or creaminess.

Here is the original recipe:

recipe for sponge drops
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sponge Drops

  • Servings: approximately 30 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400° F. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda; set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat eggs, then add sugar and beat. Stir in flour mixture and vanilla. Drop by rounded teaspoons on greased baking sheet. (The teaspoons should just be round – not heaping. These cookies spread out quite a bit.) Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.