Introduction: In this article – just in time for Holiday baking – Gena Philibert-Ortega searches old newspapers to find cookie recipes. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.”
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is that my sister-in-law and her sisters get together and make a huge batch of cookies. They make all kinds of cookies including those that they grew up with in the Azores. But my family that lives seven hours away are the lucky ones, because she always brings us a full container of cookies and then we fight over who gets to eat which ones.
Do you participate in a cookie exchange with family or friends? Cookies are the best! They are small pieces of sugary deliciousness and everyone has a favorite. Does your favorite cookie have a family history tradition behind it? Cookies are a nice way to share some family food history. Even if you don’t have a cookie food tradition, you could start your own this holiday season.
Here are a few ideas for some cookies you may want to bake.
Some Family Favorites
Everyone in my family has their favorites. My oldest loves Snickerdoodles and I personally like Mexican Wedding Cookies, and everyone likes Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Snickerdoodles are one of those foods that people are curious as to the history. It seems that some claim it’s of German descent while others say it’s a New England invention with a weird name. New York Times food editor and restaurant critic Craig Claiborne (1920-2000) answered the Snickerdoodle question with a vague “I don’t know.” But what is known is that it’s a rich cookie with cinnamon, but I have found earlier newspaper recipes for Snickerdoodle Cake prior to finding the cookie recipes.
And here’s a more recent recipe for Snickerdoodle Blondies.
Mexican Wedding Cookies are known by various names. As a Christmas cookie you might know them as Snowballs because that’s exactly what they look like with their round shape dusted in powdered sugar. This newspaper article includes ideas for variations of this familiar recipe.
Here are recipes for the famous Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, including a large pizza-sized cookie in case you’re really hungry.
Old Fashioned Cookies
Do you want to try something different? You could try a recipe from the past that your ancestor may have also enjoyed. This 1916 column of cookie recipes includes a Cinnamon Cookie, Ginger Wafers, and Date Cookies. The California Drop Cookie recipe includes molasses, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
What about a recipe for a an appropriately named Christmas Cookie? This one from 1879 includes a lot of sugar and lemon or orange extract and is finished off with powdered sugar and a raisin “to please the little folks.”
Fruitcake Cookies seem to be another cookie that screams Christmas. I personally like fruitcake but I know it’s not everyone’s favorite. Maybe these Fruitcake Cookies will be a little bit more palatable to even those that hate the much-maligned cake, since they are just tiny bites. Like their namesake, they include currants, raisons, candied fruits and nuts as ingredients. They are finished off with a creamy frosting and decorations consisting of candied cherries and citron.
The holidays are a great time to indulge in a little sweetness, and cookies fit that bill! Do you have a favorite cookie recipe? How about sharing your favorite or memories of family favorites with us in the comments section below?