The first Christmas cookie recipe ever printed in America appeared in Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery in 1796. Simmons, who described herself as an orphan, self-published the 41-page cookbook in Hartford. It was the first book to emphasize a distinctly American style of cooking, with distinctly American ingredients like corn meal, turkey and cranberries. Simmons called her cookie recipe ‘Another Christmas Cookey.’ It made an enormous number of cookeys, with three pounds of flour and a pound and a half of sugar. At least they lasted a long time. “They will be finer, softer and better when six months old,” wrote Simmons. The recipe uses pearl ash , a precursor to baking powder .
"To three pound flour, sprinkle a tea cup of fine powdered coriander seed, rub in one pound butter, and one and half
pound sugar, dissolve three tea spoonfuls of pearl ash in a tea cup of milk, kneed all together well, roll three quarters of an inch thick, and cut or stamp into shape and size you please, bake slowly fifteen or twenty minutes; tho' hard and dry at first, if put into an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old."
Here is a modern adaptation of Another Christmas Cookey that makes a mere two dozen cookeys and uses baking powder instead of pearl ash.
Step 1: Ingredients
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
3⁄4 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons coriander
1⁄2 cup milk
Dark chocolate squares and tsp of sugar
Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients
Since this is an OLD recipe, I thought I'd mix everything by hand.
1. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour to large bowl
2. To that add 1/2 tsp baking powder
3. Then add 3/4 cup of white sugar
4. Mix thoroughly
Step 3: Add Butter and Spice
1. Add one stick of sliced, room-temp butter into flour mixture.
2. Rub/press into dry mix until resembling course crumbs. (This took awhile.)
3. Stir in 4 tsp of ground coriander.
4. Combine thoroughly
Step 4: Add Milk and Form Dough
1. Make well in center, add a little less than 1/2 cup of milk
2. Pull dough together until you are able to make a soft dough ball, adding rest of milk if needed.
3. Cover with saran wrap, label and put into fridge.
Step 5: Create "jimmie" Topping
The original recipe may have called for jimmies, but I'd rather make my own(seems more old-school anyway)
1. Grab a grater and some Baker's chocolate.
2. Grate some dark chocolate, 4 squares is good. Well, just under 4: You can never grate that last part that your are holding, so that gets popped into your mouth. : )
3. I realized that the plate sure looked pretty for the photo, but when grating this kind of chocolate, it gets full of static electricity. Use an ugly white bowl, it'll be less messy and wasteful.
4. Add tsp of sugar
5. Cover and refrigerate
Step 6: Rolling Out Dough and Forming Cookies
1. Gather everything you need:
- chilled dough removed from fridge 30-45 minutes before using
- rolling pin
- small amount of flour for dipping cutter into
- cookie tray lined with parchment
- wire rack for cooling cookies
- rolling surface(I LOVE using a pizza stone - works incredibly well!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Roll out dough to 3/8" thick(this is going to make a nice, thick cookie)
3. Cut out shapes with cutters, dipping into flour when necessary
4. Angels and Stars!
5. Remove waste dough from around shapes.
6. Place cut cookies on trays. Continue rolling out dough, cutting out cookies.
Step 7: Decorating
1. Generously sprinkle chocolate/sugar mix onto trays over cookies. This wastes even more chocolate . : D . Feel free to implement less wasteful sprinkling techniques.
2. Bake about 15 minutes(plus or minus a minute depending...)
3. After cooling on cookie tray for a few minutes, transfer to wire rack to finish cooling off. Store in lined cookie tin.
Step 8: Package for Gift-giving
This was the first install into my Yankee Holiday Cheer Packages.
I got some old-timey patriotic Christmas cloth and aged it by boiling it with walnuts. I wrapped two cookies in waxed paper, followed by the cloth, and attached the Cookey Story with some twine.