crazy for cookies
crazy for cookies introduction
If you find it hard to resist making frequent stops at the cookie jar in your kitchen, you’re in good company. In the U.S. alone, more than 2 million cookies become crumbs in more than 95% of American households each year. In terms of number-crunching, that's roughly 300 cookies per person for every 365 days.
Variety assures an abundance of confection to suit anyone’s taste. Cookie dough is rolled, sandwiched, filled with a gooey center, or gets a fancy design from a cookie stamp or plays it casual dropped from a spoon. And hold onto your spatula…some of the best cookies never even see the inside of an oven.

[ Crazy for Cookies: From Cake to Cookie ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

a. accidental sensation

Whether by choice or the generosity of another, more than a few store-bought, cookie-packed tins have no doubt found their way into your home, especially during the holiday season. Once the lid is pried open, nothing says "pick me!" more than the sight and smell of the sugary confections neatly stacked in papery cups. More than a compression of flour, sugar and egg, these snappy little shortbreads represent centuries of culinary history. They were also "created" by accident when bakers would test bake a spoonful of cake batter to make sure the oven was hot enough.

There is evidence that the first cookie-like cakes emerged with the cultivation of sugar in 7th century Iran, formerly known as Persia. Consisting of flour, water, eggs and nuts, and flavored with vanilla and anise, these hard, often ring-shaped wafers, known as jumbles, were not only convenient, fit-in-the-satchel energy foods to travel with but could also be stored for months. As travel and trade spread, Europeans adapted these early cookies as biscuits (England), buns (Scotland), galletas (Spain), biscotti (Italy) and keks (Germany). As with language and art, cookie-baking took off during the Renaissance period. In fact, Good Queen Bess likely enjoyed the spice cookie recipe from Goode Huswife's Jewel, the 1596 cookbook penned by Thomas Dawson:

"Take fine flowre and good Damaske water you must have no other liqeur but that, then take sweet butter, two or three yolkes of eggs and a good quantity of Suger, and a few cloves, and mace, as your Cookes mouth shall serve him, and a lyttle saffron, and a little Gods good about a spoonful if you put in too much they shall arise, cutte them in squares lyke unto trenchers, and pricke them well, and let your oven be well swept and lay them uppon papers and so set them into the oven. Do not burne them if they be three or foure days olde they bee the better."

[ Crazy for Cookies: Colonial Cookies ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

b. little cake craze

In the 17th century, what we know as the modern cookie evolved from a simple butter "koekie," the Dutch word for "little cake." Apparently, it took a while for the word "cookie" to enter New World lingo because early American jumbles were commonly and without explanation called names like Cry Babies, Plunkets, Snickerdoodles, Tangle Breeches, Jolly Boys, Graham Jakes and Kinkawoodles.

Then, Amelia Simmons came along to give us several firsts—the first official American cookie recipe (one that called the treats cookies for the first time), printed in American Cookery, the first American cookbook, published in 1796. While Amanda's spin on how to make the perfect cookie probably resulted in something more like tooth-breaking hardtack, we applaud her efforts:

"One pound sugar boiled slowly in half pint water, scum well and cool, add two teaspoons pearl ash dissolved in milk, then two and a half pounds flour, rub in 4 ounces butter, and two large spoons of finely powdered coriander seed, wet with above; make roles half an inch thick and cut to the shape you please; bake fifteen or twenty minutes in a slack oven—good three weeks."

coriander seed, powdered

baking spices

cookie recipes