Ever wondered how cookies and cakes have the same set of ingredients that goes into making them and yet they taste and have a texture so distinctly unique from each other? First experimented in the heart of Persia (7th century AD), present day Iran, cookies were actually “test cakes” i.e, small quantities of cake batter were used to test the ideal utensil and temperature to bake actual cakes. It is also important to note that earliest access to sugar and sugarcane by Asian countries made them the very first producers of cookies. It was only through war, Arab conquest of Spain in particular, that brought sugar into European countries and the Mediterranean area and consequently newer recipes of cookies as well.
Cookies are the go-to, single serving baked sugar snack that we have grown up consuming and loving. It is a staple with beverages like milk, coffee, and tea. The American butter cookies have a close resemblance to the English shortbread and with all the hundreds of regional variations of cookies across the world. With the building of railroad and rapid industrialisation, staple food items like nuts, raisins, and fruits started getting accessible to all parts of the world giving rise to the wide variations of cookies that we have today. Indians call it ‘biscuits’, Italians ‘biscotti’. Biscotti literally means “doubly cooked” further meaning the prolonged span of baking to outdo the cakey texture into a cookie one.
As an insight practice, we will be listing out a couple variations so you know your cookie and you are not at a loss of knowing what you want when you are cookie-craving!
1) Chocolate Chip Cookies – It was an American, Ruth Graves Wakefield, who invented the most renowned and loved form of cookies, the chocolate chip cookie. Ruth, a seasoned baker and a restaurant owner from Massachusetts, once experimented with semi-sweet chocolate instead of baker’s chocolate in her cookie recipe only to find the cookie retained the chocolate in its original shape instead of having it melt inside. She then named her cookie after her restaurant calling it, “The Toll House Crunch Cookie”. It was only after the famously fictional Betty Crocker vouched for Ruth’s Crunch cookie that people started to want it too. Soon after that, Nestle signed an agreement with Ruth to print her recipe on the wrapper of their chocolate bars.
2) Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie – Another loved variation of chocolate chip cookies has to be the chewy chocolate chip cookie. The doughy texture of the cookie can be retained with the addition of cornstarch, brown sugar, and extra egg yolk or simply leaving the cookie slightly underbaked.
3) Oreos – Oreos at this point are like any other staple Christmas cookie but one that is found throughout the year. Oreos have a very unique flavour owing to its even unique combination of dark chocolate and white chocolate mix. Oreo cookies are also vegan cookies as the creme filling does not contain any animal product. However, there still remains the risk of animal product contamination owing to its production in manufacturing spaces that may be using/producing dairy products.
4) Oatmeal cookies – The earliest recorded Oatmeal cookie was by Fannie Merritt Farmer in her 1896 recipe book called the Boston Cooking- School CookBook. Although her recipe did not include the addition of raisins, most oatmeal cookies today contain raisins as a staple. The high content of fibre and vitamins in Oatmeal makes this cookie recipe a healthier alternative for everyday consumption with tea or coffee.
5) Lactation Cookies – The most wonderful alternative variation of cookies, this one especially caters to chestfeeding cookie-lovers who are under dietary restrictions. Lactation cookies are made of a chemical compound called the galactagogues, an enhancer of breast milk secretion. It is also clinically recommended sometimes to new mothers who often face the issue of not producing enough milk. However, an authorised prescription from a doctor must be taken before consuming lactation cookies.
6) Peanut butter cookies – Imagine peanut butter sandwiches, but as cookies. The flour texture in both is an unmistakable element that stays constant. It tastes best when crunchy and not chewy.The rich flavour of peanut is an ideal and a unique addition to the cookie texture that otherwise centres mostly around chocolate or salted butter.
With Easter just around the corner, many seasonal ingredients are also added to these already delicious recipes. Different chocolates only available around Easter such as: Mini Eggs, pastel coloured smarties and creme eggs are some of the many ingredients added to make cookies just that much more fun! Of course, not only do they add a pop of colour but is always one of the more popular treats amongst children!
What is your favourite cookie recipe?