Cookies, by definition are reasonably small, flat cakes eaten as a snack or dessert. Unless, that is, it is a tough cookie, in which case it is usually someone with an exceptionally hard demeanor. Apart from the times the word cookie is applied to an attractive woman. It would be very interesting to discover the etymological source of it being used to denote a file on a computer used by a site the computer visits to store data useful to that website.
The majority of English-speaking countries in the world call this confection a biscuit. Only the citizens of the U.S. and Canada refer to it as a cookie. Some experts hold that the word and the confection are from the Dutch, who called it kockie. The Dutch were the first Europeans to occupy Wall Street, then the northern most Manhattan border of New Amsterdam. Beyond that wall were Native Americans and wilderness. Though not for long. As the border was expanded, the kockie went along in all directions.
The Muppet’s Cookie Monster is credited with enhancing the reputation of the cookie in these parts, though it needed no enhancement for some of us. Nor have the bakers been shy of experimenting. There are probably more types to be had, but my count yielded: drop, bar, filled, molded, sandwich, rolled and cut, icebox (now refrigerated), iced, pressed, cream, savory and fortune cookies. By some definitions, brownies and blondies are cookies. Everyone has a favorite and, nationally, the cream-filled chocolate sandwich is the winner. Personally, a few peanut butter cookies with an ice-cold glass of milk approaches divinity.
Then there are Christmas cookies. Those baked to leave for Santa may account for his rotundity. But is anyone taking book on how many of those baked during the season actually make it as far as Santa’s snack plate? Think of all those fingers licked clean of frosting and sprinkles.
Gingerbread was reportedly brought to Europe in the 990s AD by an Armenian monk. By the 15th C the production of gingerbread in Germany was controlled by a Gingerbread Guild. In 17th C England, the town of Market Drayton claimed to be the home of gingerbread. It was shaped, painted and hung in shop window displays. How and when gingerbread, its men and its houses became associated with Christmas is undocumented, but I suspect the Victorians of German descent. So it probably goes.
Surprisingly, though there are many cakes, tarts and pies in the web site’s recipe files, there are few cookies. Clearly something has to change. There is a Gingerbread Pear Cake you might give a try during the season and a festive Cranberry Walnut Tart, but we’ll have to get to work on a few more cookie recipes. Meanwhile, courtesy of my friend, Gail Tirana, we’re offering two cookie recipes, Oatmeal, Raisin & Spice Cookies and Coconut Macaroons. Munch with milk, coffee, tea or Vin Santo according to your preference.