There are always cookies in the cookie jar at our house. I know that they are no friend to my waistline but they are a homely food, bringing with them comfort and happy memories. I enjoy serving them to my guests and I’ve noticed that a cookie offered is rarely refused.
The word cookie has evolved from the Dutch word koekje, or “little cake,” and it arrived in the English language through the Dutch in North America. Koekje properly describes the origins of the cookie, which is believed to have found its beginning in cake baking. Over time the two diverged, with water being the medium for cohesion in cake batter and oil the medium for cohesion in cookie dough.
It is believed that cookies originated in 7th century Persia and that they made their way to Europe with the Muslim conquest of Spain. By the 14th century, they were being baked throughout Europe. The cookies of those times were popular fare with travelers. They were hard and therefore durable, and most cookie recipes contained a large proportion of nuts, making them a good source of protein. The food we now associate with the name “cookie”—made by creaming butter and sugar together to form the basis of the dough—didn’t become common until the 18th century. Now, though, this type of cookie is quite universal and has become the comfort food memory we most often associate with childhood.
Cookies are easily baked and can be successfully made by even the most inexperienced baker. They are often made from ingredients readily found in our pantries and, when home baked, can be quite economical to make. I am glad to have them in the house; grateful for a small treat with my afternoon tea or for the opportunity to share them with friends.