By Aine Cain
Dessert really is timeless.
Cookies, cakes, biscuits, crackers – We think of them as distinctive snacks, each with a personality all its own.
Not so in the 18th century.
So for National Cookie month, we’ll pause to chew on the history of this delicious baked snack.
Cookies have come a long way since 7th century Persia, when they made their first appearance. They started out as tiny tests, made of flour, sugar, and other simple ingredients. Bakers would pour out small sample cakes to determine the temperature of an oven.
Despite their humble origins, the inherent charm and appeal of mini cakes caught on quickly. They had a long shelf life, which made them popular with soldiers, merchants and sailors. The biscuit, a word derived from the Latin bis coctus, was introduced by Roman troops to Great Britain. By the 14th century, these small cakes had become popular throughout Europe and beyond.
Explorers from Holland brought biscuits to New Amsterdam, their 17th-century colony on modern-day Long Island in New York. That Dutch legacy accounts for why Americans and Britons have different words for the same dessert. The term “cookie” actually comes from the Dutch word for little cake, koekie.
As time went on, these biscuits continued to grow in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. By the 18th century, certain varieties of these biscuits had become increasingly refined. Small cakes were consumed with tea and became known as a delicacy.
And we still think they’re pretty special. Celebrate the end of National Cookie Month and try out some of these colonial dessert recipes!
A cross between a ginger snap and a soft cookie.
Almonds and egg whites dropped on a baking sheet.
Often characterized as a biscuit, this version has caraway seeds.
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