250 Cookbooks: Cookies

Cookbook #127: Cookies, Natalie Hartanov Haughton, HPBooks, Inc., Tucson, AZ, 1983.

Cookies CookbookCookies. One of my favorite foods in the world. Homemade, of course!

Cookies was a birthday gift from my mother to me in 1987. My mother was a master cookie baker, as I’ve probably mentioned quite a few times in this blog. Looking through this cookbook today, I realize she put a lot of thought into the choice of this particular book. The recipes are definitely her type of cookie, and the collection reflects her entire repertoire – especially the drop, bar, and rolled cookies.

Cookies birthday noteI have totally under-used this cookbook. There is a coffee-cup stain on one page and I see a couple wrinkled pages here and there, but I didn’t mark any recipes as “tried”. I guess there are huge swaths of my life when I just didn’t make cookies because of the calories. Or, I just baked a handful of same-old-recipes when we all needed a cookie fix.

This will change: today I well reshelve this cookbook with my very-favorites! There are lots of recipes I want to try in this book and all are from-scratch. The photos are great too.

Cookies begins with a few pages of cookie basics. “Successful Cookie Baking” reiterates  the way my mother taught me to bake cookies – and the way I continue to bake them to this day. I actually wrote down some important cookie-baking points in 1993 when I made a bound “Cookie Book” as a present for a friend:

“I always measure flour by dipping a measuring cup into a large canister of flour; I almost never sift before (or after) measuring. I always use unbleached flour. I use margarine (the cheap, stick kind) but you are welcome to substitute butter – I’m sure it would make everything better. Do use real chocolate chips and real vanilla.

“I always beat the shortening, sugar, and egg mixture extremely well, until quite fluffy. Then, add the combined dry ingredients and mix only until they are all mixed in.”

I have switched to butter rather than margarine in most of my cooking. It used to be that we were told margarine was healthier (and cheaper) than butter, so I used margarine a lot. Health advisories have changed, so it’s butter for me these days whenever I try a new recipe. But: many cookie recipes bake up differently with butter than margarine. I remember an Alton Brown episode of Good Eats wherein he made chocolate chip cookies three ways – with butter, with margarine, and with shortening – and each turned out different. And that is my experience too. (When I was still living at home, a girlfriend came over and we made chocolate chip cookies. She pulled butter out of the refrigerator instead of the margarine the recipe called for, and those cookies spread way out on baking. Wow! A first experience with experiments in baking. (Mother always – always! – followed a recipe to a “T”. I hardly ever do that these days.)

Anyway. I am only gradually changing my older margarine-based recipes to butter-based, making sure each time that adjustments do not need to be made to have them turn out the way I like.

I pick up this cookbook on a morning when my day’s plans include something very special: I am going to spend the afternoon with my 20 month old grandson. Thought I: “Ah, I know what I’ll do! I’ll whip up a cookie batter at home and take some to bake with him!”

Grandmothers and cookies, YES!

Which recipe to bake? I choose “Zucchini Drops”. I think they will pass the strict codes of “natural and healthy” foods that my daughter wants for her child. Except the sugar: I’ll have to play that down. “Just a little sugar in these, honest! A ton of zucchini and walnuts – good foods!”

Zucchini Drops recipeZucchini Drops
makes about 6 dozen small cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup grated unpeeled raw zucchini
  • 2 – 2 1/4 cups flour (use some whole wheat flour if you want to)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • some salt – only if you are using unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flaked cocout
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Using a mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in the zucchini. Add 2 cups of the flour along with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, (and salt), and beat just until thoroughly blended. If the batter is pretty wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. Stir in the coconut and walnuts.

(The wetness of zucchini varies. Basically, you want the batter to be stiff enough to drop onto baking pan – my batter needed the extra 1/4 cup flour. If your first batch of cookies flattens out too much, add a bit more flour.)

Drop by teaspoonfulls onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375˚ for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned. (I first tried these at 350˚ for 15 minutes, but I like them a little better baked at the higher temperature.)

Zucchini DropsThese were a big success! They are very soft and moist and flavorful. And a little healthy. They don’t taste real sweet, actually, my husband calls them “muffin tops” instead of cookies. (Go ahead and eat them for breakfast!)

Cookie EaterMy little cookie eater takes his cookies very seriously! He ate two and wanted more. They put him in a very good mood!

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