Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Cookie Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 23, 1911: Mosey got me started in the arts of cookie making. As a whole the result wasn’t’ so bad for all that matters any way I don’t like that kind of employment very well because my achievements in that direction would be very apt to prove failures oftener than successes.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I love all the different names Grandma uses when writing about her family and friends. You can get a sense how Grandma is feeling based upon what she calls people. Sometimes she calls her sister Ruth, “Rufus” and today her mother is Mosey. Mosey sounds like an affectionate term–though it sounds like Grandma didn’t like to cook.

I wonder what kind of cookies she made.. . . Mmm . . . Maybe she made Brown Sugar Cookies.

Here’s a wonderful old recipe for Brown Sugar Cookies.  This is one of my children’s favorite cookies. They are more raised and softer than is typical of many modern drop cookie recipes—but they are superb.

Brown Sugar Cookies

1 cup lard (or other shortening)

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour milk*

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the lard/shortening, brown sugar, eggs, sour milk, baking soda, and salt together. Add flour and stir until combined. Chill 1/2 hour. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough on greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until light browned.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies

*Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar to regular milk to create sour milk.

I often add chocolate chips or walnuts into the batter before making the cookies.

I got the recipe from my mother-in-law, but it would be typical of cookie recipes from years ago—though obviously it’s been adapted for use with a modern range.

This recipe is from an era when pasteurized milk was not the norm since it calls for sour milk. In the old days raw milk would sour—but still be good for cooking. Vinegar can be used to “sour” pasteurized milk.

A hundred years ago lard would have generally been used in this recipe–though Crisco was rolled out in 1911  by Proctor and Gamble.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Almond Drop Cookies

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, May 21, 1911: Went to Sunday school this afternoon. The whole Stout family was over this evening. Wormed the results of that letter out of Carrie.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This entry describes one of the really nice characteristics of rural life—neighbors just dropping by to visit.  One hundred years ago, on warm spring evenings neighbors probably often gathered to chat about the weather, share the local news, or talk about …. well, just whatever. Long-term friendships were formed over the years—and people would discuss anything and everything.

The adults may have sat around the kitchen table —while the young folks wandered off for their own discussions.  Cookies or other refreshments may have been served. A small cookbook published in 1911 to advertise KC Baking Powder contained this recipe for chocolate almond drop cookies:

K C Almond Drop Cookies

2 eggs, beaten light

1 cup sugar

2 ounces chocolate melted

1 ½ cups blanched almonds, chopped

1 teaspoonful vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 level teaspoonful K C Baking Powder

½ teaspoonful each, salt and cinnamon

Sift together, three times, the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. To the eggs add the sugar, chocolate, almonds, extract, and lastly the flour mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls upon a buttered baking pan. Bake in a moderate oven. This recipe makes about three dozen little cakes.

The Cook’s Book (KC Baking Powder,1911)

When I tried this recipe, I heated the oven to 375 degrees and baked the cookies for about 12-14 minutes. I didn’t sift the flour—and I used unsweetened chocolate, sliced almonds, and a different brand of baking powder. I was surprised that the recipe didn’t call for any butter or other shortening.

The cookies are tasty with a slight hint of cinnamon, and the recipe is definitely a keeper.