Me Want Cookies! Stone Jar Molasses Christmas Cookies; Cookie History

You may have liked Kermit the Frog, or Miss Piggy, but the only Muppet that ever interested me was Cookie Monster.

I identified with him.

Cakes and pies are all very nice.

Puddings and tarts can be very smart.

But, for me, the Breakfast of Champions is a (big) plate of cookies and a mug of hot chocolate.

Because I value my life this is not often my breakfast….

I do it once a year: Christmas morning.

And then I skip the hot chocolate and just have no-cal coffee… so I can eat more cookies.

I must also confess that this is the only time of year when I am intentionally wasteful of food.

I will bake Christmas cookies on the 23rd.

Other than my Christmas breakfast, we will be responsible cook eaters until the 29th of December… At which time all remaining cookies will go in the trash.

Don't bother giving me alternatives.  This works. 

I know: it's wasteful and I feel guilty.

I live with it.

Ever wondered where cookies come from?

I did.  I'll share…. This came from the History of Cookies.

In America, a cookie is described as a thin, sweet, usually small cake. By definition, a cookie can be any of a variety of hand-held, flour-based sweet cakes, either crisp or soft. Each country has its own word for "cookie." What we know as cookies are called biscuits in England and Australia, in Spain they're galletas, Germans call them keks or Plätzchen for Christmas cookies, and in Italy there are several names to identify various forms of cookies including amaretti and biscotti, and so on. The name cookie is derived from the Dutch word koekje, meaning "small or little cake." Biscuit comes from the Latin word bis coctum, which means, “twice baked.” According to culinary historians, the first historic record of cookies was their use as test cakes. A small amount of cake batter was baked to test the oven temperature.

The earliest record of a cookie or small, sweet cake, dates from 7th century Persia.

By the end of the 14th century you could buy cookies on the streets in Paris.

By the 16th century there were cook books (well, one) complete with cookie recipes.

By the 18th century the cookie reached the U.S. and exploded (much like cakes and pies).

I think it's fascinating what Americans have done with a simple concept.

Maybe it's that Europeans are more steeped in time-honored traditions.

There are wonderful pies or tarts in France – but not pumpkin, pecan, butterscotch, chocolate, banana cream, key lime, coconut, sour cream raisin, shoo-fly, or, my personal favorite, cranberry cheesecake pie.

There are wonderful cakes in England – but not angel food, red velvet, maple spice, apple sauce, coconut, crazy, maoynaise, poppy seed, jello, chiffon or, my personal favorite, devil's food with fudge frosting.

As to the cookies…. I have 5 cookie cook books, all from the U.S.  I have never seen a cook book solely devoted to cookies here in France.

Other countries have cookies, yes, but not the variety that one sees in the U.S.

When we lived in Andorra, I made lots of Christmas cookies and gave boxes of them to our friends – British, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Andorran. 

The first year I did it, they were looked at rather suspiciously. People poked, prodded and finally nibbled, not quite certain what they were letting themselves in for.

The next year, the boxes were grabbed and gobbled and, I might add, not shared (I was told).

The third year I was giving the recipes along with the cookies.

American cookies can be more strongly flavored with more whole add-ins, like chocolate chunks, raisin, cranberries, than their Euro counterparts.

I previously posted 4 of my favorites Christmas Cookies (all on the same post):

Ginger Chocolate Chip – like a ginger snap but with dark chocolate chunks

Peanut Butter Oatmeal – the perfect breakfast cookie  – also with chocolate chunks

Triple Chocolate – 'nuff said

Ice-box Cookies – my mother's recipe from her mother.  Butterscotch and almond, these are great: mix them, roll into logs and refrigerate.  When ready, slice and bake. 

Christmas Cookies 

Mon mari's favorite are Lemon Bars.  If I want any I have to make 2 batches.

Lemon Bars

I don't have a photo of these – I've not made them in a few years as they make a rather large batch, but they are my favorite Christmas cut-out cookie.

Recipe from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book – modified slightly.

Stone Jar Molasses Cookies

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 1/4 cups flour

Heat molasses to boiling in a big pan.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and soda.  It will foam up considerably – stir vigorously.  When foam subsides, stir in remaining ingredients.  Chill dough.
Roll dough out very thin on lightly floured board, 1/16th inch, and cut into desired shapes.  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake, 350F, 5 – 7 minutes being careful not to over-bake.

I used all shapes and sizes of Christmas cookie cutters and usually got around 7 dozen cookies.  They are very crisp and keep well.

7 thoughts on “Me Want Cookies! Stone Jar Molasses Christmas Cookies; Cookie History”

  1. One year I made rollout cookies in a variety of shapes and frosted them with a variety of colors. I’ve made other cookies other years, but most of the time there simply is no time. How did my Grandma Annie manage this every year by the hundreds?
    My favorite home-baked cookie is oatmeal-cranberry.

  2. I know you don’t want alternatives but here’s one anyway – give the cookies you’d throw out to a food bank. Your icebox cookies sound like exactly the kind of homey cookie that would be perfect with a cup of coffee. I’m going to try those soon – they sound simple but perfect in their simplicity.

  3. Like some of your previous commenters, you’ve also inspired me to do some Christmas cookie baking – and also some reflections on how I’m glad the name ‘bis coctum’ didn’t stick.

  4. I am cookie mad too – there would be none left to get put in the trash in my house – usually they are gone in under 24 hours once the combine harvesters lay their beady eyes on them !!

  5. I think cookies at Christmas are a very American tradition – certainly not an Australian tradition – I have been surprised by blogging to see just how much Americans get into baking cookies at christmas – but I agree you have some wonderful cookie ideas that the rest of the world loves learning about

  6. Christine, I used to do so much. This year, just a few for a few days.
    Mimi, I made those one year – they were wonderful! I’d forgotten. I make cranberry bread every year – even when I don’t make cookies.
    Zoomie, I would if I knew where one was…. I’ve participated in the annual food drives at the supermarkets, but I don’t know any more than that.
    Rich, yeah, we are lucky on that, aren’t we….. I can almost here the 3rd graders now (and the adults)
    manningroad, I am having to exert every bit of my will power to limit myself to 6 a day. Or maybe 7 – it’s Christmas. 8? Do I hear 8?
    Johanna, definitely American. My Euro neighbors and friends are somewhat baffled by it all. One special dessert they understand, but a houseful of cookies, no.

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