Since me and this guy above are relatives, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the history of cookies aswell a giving a brief description about this nectar I'm a fool for. So, let's not take any longer with this introduction, and see how did it all begin.
Who doesn’t love a cookie. Just think: Without ovens, we wouldn’t have these delightful treats. In fact, the cookie was invented in the days before thermostats, as a test to see if primitive ovens were the right temperature to bake cakes. Rather than ruin an entire cake, a “little cake,” or cookie, was tested first. At the time, no one thought the “test cake” would become a treat with charms of its own.
Cookies are small, sweet, flat, dry cakes—single-serving finger food. They are generally flour based, but they can be flourless—made from egg whites and/or almonds like macaroons, for example—or made from gluten-free flour, like rice flour. Cookies can be soft, chewy or crisp. They can be big or small, plain or fancy. They can be simple—butter and sugar—or complex, with a multitude of ingredients, or fashioned into cookie sandwiches, two layers and filling. But they started out long ago, not as a treat or a comfort food, but as an oven regulator!
Origin Of The Cookie
Lavish cakes were well-known in the Persian Empire. According to What’s Cooking America, a food history website, the earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to Persia (modern Iran) in the 7th century C.E., toward the end of its glory.*
*Begun around 550 B.C.E., Islam's former territorial unity, Persia was conquered numerous times, most famously when Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at Gaugamela (331 B.C.E.). But in 913 C.E., conquered by the Buwayhid from the shores of the Caspian Sea, the united Muslim empire was destroyed and Iran became one nation in an increasingly diverse Islamic world.
While Europeans had honey, due to the ancient migration of bees, sugar came much later. It originated in the lowlands of Bengal or elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and was brought to Persia and cultivated there, spreading to the eastern Mediterranean. Bakers made luxurious cakes and pastries for the wealthy. With the Muslim invasion of Iberia in the 8th century, followed by the Crusades (1095 to 1291) and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread to Northern Europe. Cookbooks of the Renaissance, which began in Italy in the 14th century and spread to the rest of Europe, are filled with cookie recipes. By the end of the 14th century, one could buy little filled wafers on the streets of Paris.
But during the centuries before, while cakes of were being baked to the delight of all, what has evolved into our cookie was not originally made to please the sweet tooth. According to culinary historians, the first historic record of cookies was used as test cakes. A small amount of cake batter was dropped onto baking pans to test the temperature of the oven before the cake was baked (remember, early ovens didn’t have thermostats like ours do, and were fueled by burning wood).
Each language has its own word for cookie. In The Netherlands, the little test cake was called a koekje, “little cake” in Dutch (a cake is koek). The concept evolved to small, individual portions, which were baked to create the dry, hard-textured cookies we know today. With the moisture removed, they stayed fresh much longer than cake. The British word for cookie, biscuit, comes from the Latin bis coctum, meaning “twice baked” (also the origin of the Italian biscotti). According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the term “cookie” first appeared in print around 1703.†
The Cookie Comes To America
According to the book, English and Dutch immigrants brought the cookie to America in the 1600s. The Dutch used the word koekje, while the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, or tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumble (a spiced butter cookie) or macaroon. By the early 1700s, koekje had evolved to cookie or cookey, and was well-entrenched in New York City, then the nation’s capital—a factor that resulted in widespread use of the term.
During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, most cookies were baked at home as special treats, both because of the amount of labor and the high cost of sugar. Recipes for jumbles, macaroons and gingerbread are found in early cookbooks. Our simple butter cookie recipes are similar to English tea cakes and Scottish shortbread (the term “tea cake” is used to describe that type of cookie in the Southern U.S. as well).
During the 19th century, affordable sugar and flour, plus the introduction of chemical raising agents such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), led to the development of other types of cookie recipes.‡ Another explosion of cookie recipes took place in the early 1900s, not surprisingly paralleling the introduction of modern ovens with thermostats.** Cookbooks yield recipes for cinnamon-accented Snickerdoodles, raisin-filled Hermits, Sand Tarts and many varieties of butter cookies including Southern-style Tea Cakes. The famous chocolate chip cookie was not to appear until 1930, an accident (as so many good foods are). Read the full story.
‡The Oxford Companion to Food, op.cit. (page 76). **Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 317-318).
Types Of Cookies
The eight basic types of cookies are classified by the way the dough is handled. There’s also a “faux” cookie, the no-bake cookie.
Bar Cookies. Here, batter or other ingredients are poured or pressed into a rectangular pan (sometimes in multiple layers), then baked and cut into individual-sized squares. Brownies and lemon bars are examples of bar cookies. In the U.K., bar cookies are known as “tray bakes.”
Drop Cookies. A relatively soft dough is dropped by the spoonful onto the baking sheet. During baking, the mounds of dough spread and flatten. Chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies and macaroons are examples of drop cookies.
Molded Cookies. Made from a stiffer dough that is molded into balls or other shapes (wreaths, for example) before baking. Almond crescents are an example of molded cookies.
No-Bake Cookies. A “faux” cookie, a kind of candy-cookie hybrid. An example is Rice Krispies Treats.
Pressed Cookies. Made from a soft dough that is extruded from a cookie press (cookie gun) or pastry tube into various decorative shapes. Spritz cookies are an example.
Refrigerator Cookies or Ice Box Cookies. Made from a stiff dough that is refrigerated in logs until it becomes hard. It is then sliced into rounds and baked. Examples include pinwheels and shortbread.
Rolled Cookies. Made from a stiffer dough that is chilled and then rolled out and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter, knife or pastry wheel. Gingerbread men are an example (or any cookie made with a cookie cutter).
Sandwich Cookies. Rolled or pressed cookies that are assembled as a sandwich with a sweet filling: frosting, ganache, jam, marshmallow creme and peanut butter creme are popular. The whoopie pie, made of two soft cookies with a vanilla creme filling, is an example (as is the iconic Oreo creme sandwich).
Fried Cookies. These are fried dough, often dusted with powdered sugar. Examples include the Jewish/Polish krusczyki and the Italian zeppole. Fried dough is becoming increasingly popular, with chocolate chip cookie dough, oatmeal cookie dough and others all headed to the fryer.
Sources of Information
The post is made up of the author's original content, or is a compliation of material from various places.