The History Of Cookies!
A little cookie history: The first cookies were created by accident. Cooks used a small amount of cake batter to test their oven temperature before baking a large cake. These little test cakes were called "koekje", meaning "little cake" in Dutch.
Cookies are most often classified by method of preparation - drop, molded, pressed, refrigerated, bar and rolled. Their dominant ingredient, such as nut cookies, fruit cookies or chocolate cookies, can also classify them. Whether gourmet, soft or bite-sized cookies, new categories are always cropping up as the American appetite for cookies continues to grow.
The word cookie originally came from the Dutch keokje, meaning "little cake." In addition, the Dutch first popularized cookies in the United States. The British took a liking to them in the 19th century, incorporating them into their daily tea service and calling them biscuits or sweet buns, as they do in Scotland.
Sometime in the 1930s, so the story goes, a Massachusetts innkeeper ran out of nuts while making cookies. Therefore, she substituted a bar of baking chocolate, breaking it into pieces and adding the chunks of chocolate to the flour, butter and brown sugar dough. The Toll House Cookie, so named after the inn in which it was served, was a hit.
Historians credit the innkeeper, Ruth Wakefield, with inventing what has since become an American classic - the chocolate chip cookie.
The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to seventh-century Persia, one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. There are six basic cookie styles, any of which can range from tender-crisp to soft. A drop cookie is made by dropping spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet. Bar cookies are created when a batter or soft dough is spooned into a shallow pan, then baked, cooled and cut into bars.
Hand-formed (or molded) cookies are made by shaping dough by hand into small balls, logs, crescents and other shapes.
Pressed cookies are formed by pressing dough through a COOKIE PRESS (or PASTRY BAG) to form fancy shapes and designs.
Refrigerator (or icebox) cookies are made by shaping the dough into a log, which is refrigerated until firm, then sliced and baked. Rolled cookies begin by using a rolling pin to roll the dough out flat; then it is cut into decorative shapes with COOKIE CUTTERS or a pointed knife.
Other cookies, such as the German SPRINGERLE, are formed by imprinting designs on the dough, either by rolling a special decoratively carved rolling pin over it or by pressing the dough into a carved COOKIE MOLD. In England, cookies are called biscuits , in Spain they're galletas , Germans call them keks, in Italy they're biscotti and so on.
The first American cookie was originally brought to this country by the English, Scots, and Dutch immigrants. Our simple "butter cookies" strongly resemble the English tea cakes and the Scotch shortbread.
The Southern colonial housewife took great pride in her cookies, almost always called simply "tea cakes." These were often flavored with nothing more than the finest butter, sometimes with the addition of a few drops of rose water.
In earlier American cookbooks, cookies were given no space of their own but were listed at the end of the cake chapter. They were called by such names as "Jumbles," "Plunkets," and "Cry Babies." The names were extremely puzzling and whimsical.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of cookie recipes in the United States. No one book could hold the recipes for all the various types of cookies.
Though they have evolved quite a bit since the Mayflower days, cookies have are never out of vogue. Homemade cookies are always head-and-shoulders better than store bought. But let's take a look at cookies then and now before showing you how to re-spin some homey classics.
The cookie that broke the mold
chemistry of the cookie
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Last updated January 16, 2006