MMM Cookies

Zimtstern, Christmas Cookies, Christmas

 

The name cookie is derived from the Dutch word koekje. The British call them cookies, originating from the Latin bis coctum (sounds somewhat risque) and translates into “twice baked.” (Not to be confused with “half baked.”) Food historians appear to agree that cookies, or small cakes, were first used to test the temperature of an oven. A small spoonful of batter was dropped on a baking pan and put into the hearth oven. If it came out properly, the heat was prepared for the entire cake or bread. Bakers and cooks used this method for centuries, usually tossing out the evaluation cake, until they finally figured out they might be missing something.

Alexander the Great’s military took a crude form of cookie on their many attempts, gobbling them as a quick pick-me-up after trouncing and pillaging cities in their own path, around the year 327 BC. As they became embraced by much of Europe, there are numerous documents referring to what is currently our modern biscuits (but no Oreos). Fast forward into the seventh century. Persians (now Iranians) cultivated sugar and started creating hamburgers and cookie-type sweets. The Chinese, always trying to be first to the party, used honey and baked smallish cakes over an open flame in pots and tiny ovens. In the sixteenth century they created the almond cookie, sometimes substituting abundant walnuts. Asian immigrants brought these biscuits to the New World, and they joined our growing list of popular variants.

In the Middle East and the Mediterranean, this newfound concoction found its way into Spain during the Crusades, and as the spice trade improved, thanks to explorers such as Marco Polo, new and flavorful versions developed along with new baking methods. Once it hit France, well, we understand how French bakers loved desserts,  Orlando FL Rat Removal, and pastries. Cookies were added to their growing repertoire, and by the end of the 14th century, an individual could buy small filled wafers throughout the streets of Paris. Recipes began to appear in Renaissance cookbooks. Most were simple creations made with butter or lard, honey or molasses, occasionally adding nuts and raisins. But when it comes to food, easy isn’t in the French language, so their fine pastry chefs raised the bar with Madeleines, macaroons, piroulines and meringue topping the list.

Biscuits (actually hardtack) became the ideal traveling food, since they stayed fresh for extended periods. For centuries, a “ship’s biscuit,” which some described as an iron-like texture, was aboard any boat that left port because it could last for the entire voyage. (Hopefully you had powerful teeth which would also last.)

It was only natural that early English, Scottish and Dutch immigrants brought the first cookies to America. Our simple butter cookies strongly resemble British teacakes and Scottish shortbread. Colonial housewives took great pride in their biscuits, which were first called “basic cakes” In the end, the Brits had been enjoying afternoon tea with cakes and biscuits for centuries. In the early American cookbooks, cookies were relegated into the cake section and were called Plunkets, Jumbles and Cry Babies. All three were your basic sugar or molasses cookies, but no one appears to know where those names originated. Surely not to be left out of the combination, foodie president Thomas Jefferson served no lack of cookies and tea cakes to his guests, both in Monticello and the White House. Although more of an ice cream and pudding fan himself, he enjoyed treating and impressing his guests with a vast array of sweets. Later presidents counted cookies as their favorite desserts, one of them Teddy Roosevelt, who loved Fat Rascals (would I make that up?) , and James Monroe, who had a yen for Cry Babies. In spite of their unusual names, both of these early recipes are fundamental molasses drop cookies, with candied fruits, nuts and raisins. They’re still around, we just don’t call them that anymore.

Brownies came about in a rather unusual manner. In 1897, the Sears, Roebuck catalogue sold the first brownie mix, introducing Americans to one of their favorite bar cookies. And let’s not forget Girl Scout Cookies, an American tradition since 1917, racking up over $776 million in sales annually.

Americans purchase over $7.2 billion worth of biscuits annually, which clearly indicates a Cookie Monster nation.

Or the humble beginnings of the Toll House cookie in 1937 in a local Northeast restaurant. The U.S. leads the world in cookie creation and consumption, spending over $675 million annually just on Oreos. Toll House cookies are a close second, both packed and homemade. Americans eat them 24/7.

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