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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookies, the Irrestistible Treat

A recent writing assignment here which is appropriate to the season and my recent and usual holiday pastime!  Grab a cup of something hot or glass of milk, a handful of cookies and enjoy!

It's unusual to find someone who can resist a cookie when presented with a plateful.  Whether homemade or store bought they are one of the treats most people enjoy every now and then.  What is it about them that we find so enjoyable?  It may be that they remind us of our childhood with an after school snack of milk and cookies, or perhaps they bring back memories of our grandmother or a favorite auntie.  It could be simply the need for a bit of sugar to boost our mood. Whatever the reason, we all enjoy cookies.

Cookies are known by many different names around the world.  In Australia and England they are called biscuits.  In Spain, children and adults alike enjoy galletas.  Germans call them keks, or platzchen. We've all heard of the Italian biscotti, of course, and they are also known as amaretti there.  The word "cookie" is derived from the Dutch word "koekje", which means small or little cake.  Some other American terms are "jumbles", "plunkets", and "cry babies".

The popular treats are classified by how they are formed.  T"here are drop cookies such as chocolate chip, molded cookies such as snicker doodles and peanut butter cookies.  Popular at Christmas time are rolled cookies such as sugar cookie cut outs and gingerbread men, and pressed cookies known as spritzgeback.  Bar cookies are known as "tray bakes" in England, and blondies are one type of these.  Sandwich cookies are likely the most popular store bought variety.

Cookies have been around for a very long time. The earliest cookies are thought to be from Persia in the seventh century A.D.  Cookies came about from cake dough being used in small amounts to test the oven temperature.  By the end of the 14th century little filled wafers could be purchased on the streets of Paris, as well as found among the royalty of European countries.  it is thought that the English, Scotch and Dutch immigrants brought the first cookies to the U.S. in the form of "tea cakes".

Up until the 18th century cookies were relatively hard, until the modern form became more popular by the technique of creaming of butter and sugar together.  Popular among early Americans were the macaroon and gingerbread.  Today there are countless recipes in the United States for cookies.  Who would have thought that a small, flat, baked concoction of flour, butter or lard, eggs and sugar could be such a delicious, irresistible snack?

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