Monday, March 4, 2013

The History of Cookies


I love the smell of cookies baking. It brings back such comforting and happy memories of childhood. I’m sure every family has a long and interesting history of their own cookie making experiences and traditions.

In fact, cookies go back a long way in world history! Nobody is actually sure who created the very first cookie, but as the story goes, it was a mistake. Many cooking experts believe that centuries ago - before thermometers and electricity - cooks who wanted to test the temperature of their ovens would bake a small amount of cake batter to find out if the oven was hot enough to bake an entire cake. Not wanting to waste precious food, these early bakers ate their samples and later decided they were worthy of a spot in the “pastry case!”

The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to 7th century Persia (now Iran), one of the first countries to cultivate sugar (luxurious cakes and pastries were well known in the Persian Empire). Sugar originated in the lowlands of Southeast Asia, spread to Persia, and then to the Eastern Mediterranean. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, then the Crusades and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe where baked goods became mainstream items.

By the end of the 14th century, one could buy little filled wafers on the streets of Paris and as people started to explore the globe, biscuits (hard cookies) became the ideal traveling food, because they were portable and stayed fresh for long periods of time.

Today there are thousands of different cookie recipes around the globe and at Michael’s Cookie Jar we celebrate a few of the most popular ones such as the French palmier, the Mexican ojarasca, the Italian biscotti, the Austrian linzer, and the Jewish rugelach in addition to our American classics - Yum.

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