The Joy of Cooking… Cookies!

The Joy of Cooking is the hands-down best all-time cookbook to look through for all your traditional Holiday cookie recipes. Since it’s general publication in the 1930’s serious chefs, along side of everyday housewives, have all relied on its advice. Since the first edition, there have been several incarnations of this cookbook, but the following quoted advice and cookie recipes come from the 1975 publication.

There is a wonderful, informal, yet professional, tone through this scrumptious tome. Need advice on how to cook pasta or cure fish or knead bread or roast beef? All in this one cookbook. Plus everything to create the perfect dinner party. I especially love this opening paragraph in the “Entertaining” section:

“When you are entertaining, try not to feel that something unusual is expected of you as a hostess. It isn’t. Just be yourself. Even eminent and distinguished persons are only human. Like the rest of us, they shrink from ostentation; and nothing is more disconcerting to a guest than the impression that his coming is causing a household commotion. Confine all noticeable efforts for his comfort and refreshment to the period that precedes his arrival. Satisfy yourself that you have anticipated every possible emergency–the howling child, the last-minute search for cuff links, your husband’s exuberance, your helper’s ineptness, your own qualms. Then relax and enjoy your guests.”

And that’s just the introduction! There is a lovely combination of old fashion sensibility and sage counsel. If nothing else, read Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker’s witty and sound advice, from cooking for large parties to afternoon tea suggestions. So why the Joy of Cooking recipes you ask? Simply because their cookies are buttery and sugary and just plain perfect. The recipes work and produce happy cookie eaters with minimal effort from you.

Here are three of our favorites, word for word from this cookbook:

Gingersnaps : Makes about 10 dozen 2-inch cookies, like “boughten” ones in texture, but with a dreamy flavor.

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Cream together: 3/4 cup butter, 2 cups sugar
  • Stir in: 2 well-beaten eggs, 1/2 cup molasses, 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • Sift and add: 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 2-3 teaspoons ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • Mix ingredients until blended
  • Form dough into 3/4- inch balls
  • Bake on a greased cookie sheet about 12 minutes. As the ball melts down during baking, the cookie develops the characteristic crinkled surface
  • Optional: When cool, ice to taste. A topping to delight the children is half a marshmallow, cut side down, on the almost baked cookies. Return to oven about 4 minutes

I would add these cookies are still good even a few days later, especially when you dip one in your tea!

Scotch Shortbread: Makes about 20 squares

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Cream 1 cup butter
  • Sift together: 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Blend the dry ingredients into the butter
  • Pat the stiff dough into an ungreased 9×9-inch pan and press edges down. Pierce with a fork through the dough every half-inch.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares while warm.

All the goodness in the world is contained in this bite-size cookie!

Coconut Macaroons: Makes about twenty 1-inch cookies 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Have ready in a bowl: 3 cups moist shredded coconut: 8 oz.
  • Add: 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Combine these ingredients with: 2/3 cup sweetened condense milk to make a thick paste. These cookies are much improved by folding into the batter: 1-2 stiffly egg whites
  • Roll the paste into balls or drop it from a teaspoon onto well-greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
  • They may be rolled in sifted confectioners’ sugar

We melted chocolate, butter and mixed with milk, whipped and dipped in half the cookie, then let cool. So yummy!!!

The following recipe might be called sugar cookies or rolled holiday cookies, either way use this recipe to make your favorite shapes!

Rich Roll Cookies: Just what they are named, and delicious!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cream: 1 cup butter, 2/3 cup sugar
  • Beat in: 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Combine and add: 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Chill dough 3 to 4 hours before rolling

“Aunties and grandmothers who roll cookies for and with children are scarce these days. But shaping cookies is such fun that children should be encouraged to learn to make them for themselves. Inexperienced bakers often ruin rolled cookies by using too much flour in the rolling process. To use as little extra flour as possible — chill the dough at least 1 hour before rolling it, and –use a pasty cloth and rolling pin cover. These practically do away with sticking and require the use of very little additional flour. Grease the pan, but –remember never to use a pan with deep rims for cookie baking. Removing the cookies from such a pan is very difficult.

Use cutters that interlock, as shown above, so that dough need be handled as little as possible. An even easier way to form fancy shapes that will not be distorted by handling: grease the back of a baking pan. Spread dough on pan evenly. Place cutters for maximum yield. Lift out the dough scraps between the shapes and reroll or re-form them on  another pan to make more cookies.”

Once you have cooked and cooled these star or tree or reindeer shaped cookies you have all the fun in the world decorating them with a colored glaze or sprinkles, whatever fun you want to create. Best done by any or all the children in your life!

From our kitchen we bundle up these varieties into small festive bags to share with friends and co-workers. But we keep plenty on hand for when family and friends arrive! Bon appetit!


** This blog post written in December of 2011 is absolutely essential this week: tis the season for cookie making and eating!!!

6 thoughts on “The Joy of Cooking… Cookies!

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