Here is a simple, straightforward cookie recipe. This type of rolled sugar cookie shows up often in American Jewish community cookbooks from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. Though such recipes are often dismissed as a sign of “assimilation,” I think they offer a lot of knowledge about exactly how Jewish folks, and mostly the women who were doing most of the cooking, were still trying to maintain community ties and get people to communal events in this new framework. Besides, there is no shame in enjoying a cookie.
I did not see a cookie of this specific flavor in the books, but I have made a variant of these a few times in the past months, and was quite happy with the result. You can make a dairy-free/pareve version by using oil and one small egg instead of the milk, or use a plant-based milk and oil for a vegan cookie.
Maple Spice Cookies
Based on recipes by Garrett McCord, Craig Gund, and Sally McKenney
Makes 24-30 cookies
1 stick (4oz/115g) salted butter, softened
½ cup (3.5oz/100g) granulated cane sugar + 2-3 tbsp for rolling
⅔ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp whole milk
2 cups (8.5oz/240g) white flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
- Preheat your oven to 350F/175C. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until combined. You can use a pastry knife or an electric hand mixer. Here is a guide for how you can do that with a wooden spoon if you have neither.
- Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and whole milk, and mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and work together with the pastry knife, spoon, or hand mixer until combined. You should have a sticky but pliant dough.
- Pour the 2-3 tbsp of sugar for rolling onto a plate and spread it evenly.
- Take a piece of dough and roll it into a 1 inch/2.5cm ball. Then, roll it briefly in the sugar until covered. Place it on the parchment paper. Repeat until you use the dough – spread the dough balls about 2 inches/5 cm apart.
- Use a fork to lightly “squash” each of the balls.
- Bake for 10-13 minutes in the oven, or until the cookies are brown but not burned on the bottom, and the cookies are solid but still soft.
- Remove from the heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Store any remaining cookies in an airtight container or bag for up to four days.
Thank you to my classmates, colleagues, housemates, and boyfriend for trying several iterations of this recipe.