Grim's Grub: The only thermometer you can eat
Learn about the origin of the cookie, and try a couple of recipes.
The origin of the cookie is, interestingly, hinted at in various languages. I learned this when I took German in college. You see, the name for cake - "kuchen" - is also found in the names of various cookies, including lebkuchen.
The word "cookie," as a matter of fact, has its origins in Dutch where koek is “cake” and koekje is “little cake,” according to Thenibble.com. That's likely how cookies began - as single-serving test samples of cake used not only to test the flavor of the cake, but also the temperature of an oven, a very tasty and creative trick in a time without thermometers.
The earliest little cakes were likely produced in Persia (Iran) in the seventh century. Museums have ceramic molds from that region that were likely used for cookies.
While eastern trade made cookies more common in Persia at that time, thanks to sugar, Romans have a record of making cookies as well, likely with honey. In Rome, animal-shaped cookies were gifted to senators and important people, making them the first purveyors of animal crackers.
Many of the types of cookies we have now were developed long ago. Sugar cookies, for example, are recorded in 16th century recipes, published in a book called "The Good Huswifes Jewell," by Thomas Dawson in 1596 (reproduced below).
“Take fine flowre and good damaske water you must have no other liquor but that, then take sweete butter, two or three yolkes of egges, and a good quantitie of suger and afewe cloves and mace as your Cookes mouth shall serve him and a little saffron, and a litle Gods good about a spoonful if you put in too much they shall arise, cut them in squares unto trenchers and pricke them well and let your oven be well swept and lay them upon papers and so set them into the oven. Do not burn them if they be three or four dayse olde they be the better.”
Pizelles, similar to krumkake, may be nearly as old as their Persian counterpart. The Middle Ages introduced many other cookie types in Europe, including Marzipan, simnel cakes and perhaps crumpets (though they could have existed earlier).
Of course, around here most people are familiar with Ruth Wakefield's very dear and accidental Toll House recipe developed in Massachusetts at her restaurant. Before then cookies had to first be introduced to the United States. That was thanks to the Dutch, and they didn't wait long either, introducing them as early as 1600. It wasn't until the early 1700s that the dutch Koekje became anglicized into cookie.
Development of affordable trade routes and chemical leaveners over time changed the appearance of cookies and made even more varieties possible. In the 19 th century the collection of recipes worldwide exploded, and for that I think we should all be grateful. For those who like cookies, and try to stay away from gluten, we have you covered with a more recent creation.
Adapted from http://kirielskitchen.blogspot.com
- 2 cups flour
- 175 grams butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon saffron, ground
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 2 teaspoons mace, ground
- 3 tablespoons rosewater
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix dry ingredients and cut in the butter to make something akin to fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and rosewater and mix to make the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour. Roll to about ¼ inch thickness and cut into shapes. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly golden.
Flourless Double Chocolate Black Bean Cookies
- 15 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 egg at room temperature, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces melted dark chocolate, cooled
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a food processor, puree black beans, butter and egg until mostly smooth. Add vanilla, sugar, baking soda, salt and melted chocolate and puree again until smooth. Add cocoa powder and repeat until well combined. Add about three ounces of the chocolate chips and mix by hand.
Using a cookie scoop or two large spoons, place approximately 2 tablespoons of batter on a greased baking sheet or parchment paper with two inches separation. Refrigerate this until the batter is semi-solid, for approximately 15 minutes, then bake in a 375-degree oven for approximately 18 minutes or until the tops appear dry and cracked.
They must be cooled before you can pick them up for eating.