Recently I brought home a package of old-fashioned dutch cocoa cookies from my local grocery store. They are inexpensive, cello-wrapped cookies the size of your palm with a pleasant chewy texture and mild chocolate flavor. These cookies are well-made chocolate cookies, but old-fashioned? What is an old-fashioned chocolate cookie? I have this romantic image of my grandmother running into the old general store with a penny to buy this moon-sized chocolate cookie out of a glass jar on the counter. It made me want to see what a chocolate cookie from the good-old days was really like.
I love old cookbooks. The older the better. My mom recently grabbed a few for me at a library book sale, and I’ve spent more than a few hours looking through the pages. Two of these books are pretty old; one from 1877 and one from 1929. Both books are made for the housewife, not the baker at the general store, but they gave me insight into what was popular back when they were published. Two things were particularly striking in my search for an old-fashioned chocolate cookie. The 1877 book, Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping (Buckeye Publishing Company; Marysville, OH) contains very few cookie recipes and none of them contain any cocoa or chocolate. The cookies in this book include sugar cookies, spice cookies (ginger and nutmeg), molasses cookies, lemon and cocoa-nut (how both cookbooks spell coconut). All the cookies are rolled out thin except for the cocoa-nut jumbles which are dropped by teaspoon. Fifty years later in 1929, one year before the invention of the chocolate chip cookie, the International Cookbook (Merchandisers, Inc; Boston, MA) has more variety. It has a whole chapter of cookies in a wide variety of flavors and styles. Brownies are here, as are all sorts of fruit and nut cookies. There are also three chocolate cookie recipes that use bar chocolate instead of cocoa. So, while my little two book exploration is no substitute for thorough research, I do wonder about the existence of my Old-Fashioned Dutch Cocoa cookie. I guess a lot depends on your definition of old-fashioned.
While I’m no pastry chef, I wanted to make a true old-fashioned chocolate cookie. Lacking a cocoa powder cookie to go from, I choose the one with the most promise; the chocolate fudge cookie from the 1929 International Cookbook. This cookie had a decent amount of chocolate in it, and no nuts. The original recipe says to serve them “plain or iced with chocolate frosting,” but provides no information on the type of chocolate frosting to use. After a few batches of overly sweet chocolate frosting, I perfected the cookie with a kiss of semi-sweet browned butter chocolate frosting that adds an extra kick of chocolate which really sends this cookie to the top of my list of favorite cookies. While they are certainly not moon-sized, they would look ever so nice in a glass cookie jar but they won’t stay there for very long! Enjoy.
Can’t you just see these two for a penny in the general store?
1929 Chocolate Cookies
These cookies are highly-addictive and the perfect fix for all your chocolate cravings.
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl and cover bowl. Microwave on high for thirty seconds and let chocolate sit for two minutes. Stir chocolate.
Melting the chocolate slowly and not burning it is probably the hardest thing in making these cookies.
If chocolate is not completely melted continue to microwave for additional 10 seconds at a time until just barely melted. It is very important to not over cook this chocolate. Stop while there are still some small pieces of non-melted chocolate. Burned chocolate is not something you want in your cookies! Set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. In another large bowl cream the butter and sugars together with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and continue to beat until thoroughly combined. Add half of the flour, stirring until just mixed.
Add flour and milk just like you would in the standard mixing procedure for cake. Always start and end with the flour!
Add milk and remaining flour mixing and scraping down the sides after each addition. Add chocolate to cookie dough and mix until chocolate is completely mixed into the dough.
Drop cookie dough on to a lined baking pan by teaspoon.
Less is more with these cookies.
Resist the urge to make big cookies, the small rounded teaspoon will make the perfect dainty cookie for the chocolate kiss in the center. Bake for 10 minutes.
If you are good with your spacing you can fit two dozen per half-sheet pan.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly before moving to a rack to cool completely. Dollop each cookie with a teaspoon of browned butter semi-sweet chocolate frosting.
The perfect two bite cookie.
Browned Butter Semi-Sweet Chocolate Frosting
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsweetened butter
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp half & half
In a microwave safe bowl, cover chocolate and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Heat butter in a small pan over medium heat until butter has turned golden brown. Right before the butter turns brown it will start to foam. Swirl the pan over the heat so you can see the color.
Your butter will start to foam right before browning. Watch it like a hawk.
Be VERY careful not to burn the butter. When it starts to turn a light tan color immediately remove from heat and swirl butter to start cooling process. Cool butter for five minutes.
Scrape melted butter into the bowl of a mixer. Pour butter over chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Mix chocolate butter mixture and cocoa powder till smooth, add powdered sugar, vanilla and half & half. Beat until very smooth.
Parchment triangles make for each frosting. Just cut a small hole in the tip and your in business.
To make kisses, use a pastry bag with a plain wide tip (probably a number 6???) or use a parchment triangle. To see how to fold a parchment for use see this link (the site, Zoe Bakes, is one of the best blogs out there!). If you are using a parchment triangle cut a small piece of the end of the bag off with a pair of scissors.