Thursday, December 13, 2007

Recipe for 1800's tea cookies

Last night I made some cookies following an 1800's recipe. With the simple title of: Cookies. the recipe is one of those in the 1882 cookbook; Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, A Guide to Marketing and Cooking.

I love older cookbooks. I used to have several cookbooks from the mid 1800's that were lost in a fire years ago. One of them had the most wonderful recipe for an applesauce cake, I still wish I had that recipe still, it would be perfect for a holiday cake. Maybe I'll look it up online, see if I can locate the recipe.

Anyway, the cookie recipe created a soft, not quite crumbly, dry cookie that has a mellow flavor and would be excellent for going with tea. The recipe as it appeared in Miss Parloa's cookbook is:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cookies.

One cupful of butter, two of sugar, five of flour, a teaspoonful of
saleratus, dissolved in four of milk; one egg, flavor to taste. Roll
and bake like seed cakes.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, I had to look up what saleratus is, it's baking soda. For the 'flavor to taste' I used a full teaspoon of vanilla.

Made as it is here, the dough is crumbly and needs to be sort of smashed together and shaped onto the pan to create roughly 1.5 inch round 1/4 inch thick cookies.

I used about a heaping tablespoon of dough to form each cookie and pressed them down to roughly a quarter inch thick. I baked about 8 minutes in a 400 degree oven on an ungreased baking sheet.

They come out with a soft shortbread look to them and I have been thinking that this recipe would make a good base for something like lemon bars. You can stop here and have a very nice tea cookie, or, what I did, was to add a few ingredients to make a nutty tea cookie.

I added finely minced walnuts to the cookies. What I did was to take this basic recipe and add in a second egg and four more teaspoons of milk. Once that was mixed in thoroughly it creates a more dough-like cookie dough which I divided in half.

To one half of the dough I added 4 tablespoons of finely ground walnuts. The walnuts are such a perfect flavor accompaniment to the flavor of the cookies and they go so wonderfully with a cup of hot tea (trust me, that's what I have here beside me as I write this ;-)). Other nuts I think would work would be pecans or hazelnuts. I can't wait to get some hazelnuts and try the recipe with them, I think the cookie dough would bring the flavor out in such a delightful way.

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