Folium: Cookies of the World via Food52
Think about it. You’re in first, fifth, eighth, 10th or 12th grade – heck maybe you’re even in college – and you’ve had a bad day at school. You trudge home, your backpack heavy with homework due the next day. You open the door and what do you smell? Mom’s homemade little nuggets of happiness, warm and ready to devour with a cold glass of milk. Cookies. Right on top of the comfort food scale with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mac & cheese.
Did you know that the invention of the cookie was actually mistake? Well, actually, more like a crash-test dummy in the baking world. According “The Kitchen Project” (see the link below), cooks used small amounts of cake batter to test the temperature of their ovens before baking a larger cake. They were called “koekje”, the Dutch word for “little cake”.
There are literally millions of cookie recipes from all over the globe just waiting to be baked up. Many feature ingredients unique or cultivated within a certain region. Middle Eastern cookies use more honey instead of refined sugar. Anise is used in many Spanish and Italian cookies. There’s even an Upstate New York potato chip cookie recipe with roots near a local chip plant. Check out the interactive map in the “FOOD 52” link. Click on the cookie of your choice and learn about where it came from and how to make it. It’s interesting to see what goes into some of those sweet treats around the globe.
Here’s some stats to chew on: In America alone, cookies are consumed in over 95 percent of all households. We eat over 2 billion cookies each year – that’s about 300 cookies per person. I can vouch for having eaten my allotment! I’d rather eat cookies over pie, cake and ice cream any day of the week. As a kid, me, my mom and sisters would make dough logs of sugar, chocolate chip and cherry walnut cookies. The logs would go into the freezer. After school, we were allowed to slice and bake 6 cookies each to have with milk while we did our homework at the dining room table. Thanks to the internet, my own daughters and I have experimented with cookie recipes from around the world. At the bottom of this article I’ve included a link to a recipe for palmiers – a favorite of mine from my grandmother who was French.
Cookies are also a part of many cultural celebrations. I mean, who hasn’t had at least one holiday cookie of some sort? A Christmas cutout in the shape of a tree, an Italian wedding treasure ball covered in powdered sugar, or a rolled-up rugelach at Hanukkah? How about a fortune cookie after a big plate of lo mein? Elegantly-decorated sugar cookies in the shapes of bridal gowns and tuxes are even becoming trendy desserts at weddings over a huge cake…that generally loses its appeal after the bride and groom get done smashing it into each others’ faces.
Whether you call them koekje, gallettas, jumbles, biscotti, tea cakes, biscuits, shortbreads, drops, plunkets, bars, spritz, rolled, pressed, or springerle, cookies, universally, just make people happy.