“I’m for a bulging cookie jar.”
Cookies: Images of idle school lunch moments, legs in knee-socks swinging under the table, moving in tandem with the munching above. Cookies hastily crammed in pockets while racing out to the backyard to catch every last minute of afternoon play.
Small and sweet--but not decadently so--with just the right amount of crunch and chew, cookies satisfy all sorts of appetites, real or imagined. A slice of cake can give the guilts but “just one more cookie” is humble stuff, as sweet addictions go.
At this time of year, with school lunch boxes needing to be filled, cookies move to center stage. Summer’s cobblers and shortcakes, move over--cookie time is here.
America’s cookie repertoire has been a melting pot of tastes and styles from the time of the colonists. Spice cookies, soft raisin cookies, shortbread, brown sugar-laced oatmeal, molasses and ginger drop cookies were all familiar from the beginning.
Yesteryear’s cookbooks yield countless recipes for traditional delights like snickerdoodles, raisin-filled hermits, sand tarts and jumbles, as well as all sorts of delectable butter cookies such as Southern tea cakes.
That’s to say nothing of the myriad sweet delicacies inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch groups such as the Mennonites, Amish and Moravians.
But around the middle of the 20th century, this vast assortment of cookie-dom was all but supplanted by one infinitely important cookie that broke the mold--the tollhouse.
The original chocolate chip cookie had its debut in the 1930s in the cozy but inspired kitchen of Ruth Wakefield, the new owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass. One day, presumably embroiled in her favorite butter cookie recipe, Wakefield threw some chocolate pieces into her Butter Do-Drop batter. The tollhouse success story awakened an insatiable chocolate chip cookie appetite that has never abated.
Despite more than 50 years of bakery trends--cinnamon buns/muffins/croissants/bagels/muffin tops and others--cookies have retained their throne.
Make all the tiramisu you want--kids (as well as other family members and lucky guests) will still root through your cookie jar, looking for a good munch.