Monday, December 8, 2014

An Early American Christmas Cookie Recipe

Hearts, Diamonds, Spades and Clubs were popular
biscuit/cookie shapes in the 18th-19th centuries.

Bake Christmas cookies from the past with this 18th century cookie recipe by Amelia Simmons from American Cookery, the first cookbook ever published by an American, in 1796! 


Seeds such as coriander, caraway, anise or fennel were commonly paired with sweets in the 18th-19th century recipes. Try this recipe and enjoy a taste from the past!  

Another Christmas Cookey
Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796

To three pounds of flour, sprinkle a tea cup of fine powdered coriander seed, rub in one pound of butter, and one and half pound sugar, dissolve one tea spoonful of pearlash 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 in an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old.

Modern Recipe Adaptation
Yield: 8 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies

5 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour Plus Extra for the Board
1/2 Cup Ground Coriander Seeds (or more, if you like a lot)
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Pound (2 Sticks) Butter, Softened
1  1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Buttermilk or Soured Milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375ยบ F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground coriander seed, and baking soda.  Set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until well-blended.  Add the milk and the flour mixture alternately.  The dough should be moist and pliable but not sticky.
  4. On a well-floured board, knead the dough just enough to keep it from sticking while rolling.  Roll the dough out and cut with your favorite cutters.  I like these to be on the thin side but the recipes calls for 3/4 inch thick cookies, so you can decide what you prefer. 
  5. Place cookie cut-outs on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Using the parchment paper on which the cookies were baked, slide the whole sheet of cookies off the cookie tin.
  7. Cool 5 minutes before eating.


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