May the 4th Be With You: Chewy Wookie Cookies

Preheat oven to 350, and line a lightly oiled baking sheet with parchment paper. Flip the paper to oil both sides.

Cream together 2 sticks softened unsalted butter with 1 cup sugar. Mix in one 1 large egg, beaten, and add a tablespoon vanilla extract. Set aside. Mix 2 ½ cups AP flour with 1/2 c. cocoa and 2 teaspoons baking powder. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined.

On a clean floured surface, work the dough until smooth and roll out to about ¼ inch. Cut into “wookies” with a gingerbread man cookie cutter, place onto the parchment baking sheet, and use a fork to make fur.

Bake for about 10 minutes, remove from oven and cool thoroughly before decorating with frosting and sprinkles.

Coconut Macaroons

Sift 3 cups flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. Mix in 2 cups light brown sugar (it doesn’t have to be packed, for Pete’s sake) and work in a cup of cold butter. Stir in 2 well-beaten eggs with a teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract. Add 2 cups grated coconut, and mix well; you’ll get a better form if you chill the dough. Drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly oiled sheet pan, and bake at 350 until tops are toasted and bottoms browned.

Apple Pecan Cookies

You don’t see many Southern recipes for apple cookies. Apples simply don’t do well in the South, and those that do are usually made into sauces, pies, or cakes.

A quick scan of Southern Sideboards, Bayou Cuisine, River Road Recipes, Vintage Vicksburg, Gourmet of the Delta, The Jackson Cookbook, and The Mississippi Cookbook turned up nary a one, but I did find an apple cookie recipe in Hosford Fontaine’s Allison’s Wells: The Last Mississippi Spa.

You can’t get any more Southern than that.

3 cups of unpeeled diced apples (I use Galas)
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A half teaspoon each ground cloves, nutmeg, and salt
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup white raisins
¼ cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugars well, add eggs and flour mixed and sifted with spices and baking powder, then stir in apples, oats and nuts. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes, stirring once. Form dough into ping pong balls, and bake on a lightly oiled cookie sheet with parchment paper at 350 or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes about two dozen wonderful, chewy, cookies.

Hash Tag Cookies

People had been making a criss-cross impression on balls of cookie dough with a fork long before 1925, when George Washington Carver issued an agricultural bulletin with 105 recipes using peanuts, including three for cookies. Some people might tell you the imprint helps cookies bake evenly, but more likely a fork is nine times out of ten more at hand than a cookie press.

How the criss-cross became a traditional hash tag for peanut butter cookies is material for a Beard Award. Here’s a one-bowl recipe for this favorite.

Combine 1 cup packed light brown sugar with a half cup each of softened butter and peanut butter. Mix until smooth; add a beaten egg and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix very well. Sift in a half teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder into a cup and a half of AP flour, add to peanut butter mix, and stir thoroughly until it forms a smooth dough.

Shape into balls a little smaller than a ping-pong, roll in sugar (optional), and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls with a fork that has been dipped in sugar so it won’t stick. Make a criss-cross pattern, and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Red Currant Thumb Cookies

When working with the dough, use powdered sugar on your hands instead of flour; these cookies are flour-y enough. The longer you chill the dough, the better it holds its shape. Use unsalted butter, and almost anything other than red currant jelly is too sweet. Mashing the jelly with a fork makes it less likely to bubble up and spill over onto the dough.

Take 3/4 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg yolk, and 1 1/2 cups cake flour. Cream butter and sugar with egg yolk. Fold in flour, knead a little bit, wrap in wax paper, and chill. Roll into 1/2 inch balls, make a small depression in the middle, and fill with jelly. Bake at 325 until golden.

Ur Cookies

Wittgenstein asks, “Just what IS a cookie?” Analytics state, “It is easier to say what a cookie IS NOT than to say what a cookie IS!” A stentorian voice declares, “A cookie IS a cookie IS a cookie.”

Ergo, flour, sugar, and butter with a leavening agent and eggs constitute the Ur-cookie, which is an Ur-cookie. These can be topped with a sugar frosting or glaze or sprinkles, or chopped nuts. You can add food coloring to make them magenta, chartreuse or cyan. You can cut them into any shape using traditional cookie cutters, or use any number of handy implements if you’re feeling froggy.

For true inspiration, make them with children.

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter with sugars; mix well. Add eggs, vanilla and then flour, sifted with salt and baking soda, a little at a time. Bake at 350 degrees on a flat, heavy baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool thoroughly before frosting.

Grinch Crinkle Cookies

Mix together one box vanilla cake mix—I use the French vanilla—two beaten eggs, one stick softened butter, a tablespoon of vegetable oil,  and 1 oz. green food coloring.

In another bowl, mix one cup corn starch with 1 cup powdered sugar. Using a large spoon, scoop up a lump of the green dough, shape it into a ping-pong ball, and roll it around in the starch/sugar mixture until coated.

Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake at 375 on a middle rack until they crinkle, about 8-10 minutes. Take care they don’t brown. Once done, remove from oven and let sit 2 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.

For hearts, mix a half cup each of flour, corn starch, and powdered sugar mixed with a half stick soft butter, just enough cold water to make a stiff dough, and red food coloring. Cut into heart shapes and bake on an oiled cookie sheet at 350 until crispy. Glue to cookies with a paste of powdered sugar and water.

Corn Cookies

What you have here is rather much a sugar cookie made with cornmeal and masa. As with flour cookies, they’re often seasoned with various flavorings, herbs, spices, and/or fruit. This recipe makes a somewhat soft cookie that can be firmed up with the addition of a bit more masa.

Whisk together a quarter cup of yellow cornmeal and a quarter cup of masa harina with a cup and a half of AP flour, a half teaspoon of baking powder, a half teaspoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of salt. Beat together two sticks softened butter, a cup and a half of sugar, a quarter cup of honey, a large egg, and a teaspoon of vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy.

Gradually add cornmeal mixture until just combined. Form dough into a ball and refrigerate in plastic wrap for about a half an hour.  Roll out to about a quarter inch, cut into rounds and bake on a lightly oiled cookie sheet on the middle rack at 350 until lightly browned.

Window Cookies

What I call window cookies have a glassy, transparent candy center. Some people call these stained glass cookies. In the Midwest, they make what are called cathedral (window) cookies made with chopped mini-marshmallows baked in rolled cocoa cookie dough. Then you have what are called thumbprint cookies, dimple cookies, or jelly cookies, which I’ve heard referred to as window cookies as well.

The most essential ingredient for what I consider proper window cookies is a translucent hard candy like Jolly Ranchers or Life Savers. Coarsely crush the candy, and use a basic cookie dough. I use cocoa for color, chopped nuts for texture, and if I’m really froggy, almonds for tiles or bricks.

Roll out dough to a half inch thickness and cut to shape. Take care not to overfill the centers with candy; it’ll spill over and look sloppy. Cook in a low oven on lightly oiled parchment paper at 300 until the dough firms and the candy melts. Cool thoroughly on rack.

Bobbie Gentry’s Cherry Cookie Bars

This recipe appeared in Bayou Cuisine (1970) and was credited to Edith Streetner of Greenwood.

Bobbie Gentry was born Bobbie Lee Streeter July 27, 1944, on her paternal grandparents’ farm near Mantee, Mississippi. Her father, Robert H. Streeter, lived in Greenwood, Mississippi. Bobbi Lee Gentry moved to California in 1957 to live with her mother and stepfather.

Bobbie graduated from Palm Springs High School. She changed her name to Gentry after seeing the 1952 film Ruby Gentry, starring Jennifer Jones and Charlton Heston. Likely Edith is Gentry’s stepmother, who writes, “Bobbie’s favorite recipe that she has loved since she was a little girl, and I always made them for her when she came home.”

These are two-in one cookie bars. They have a rich, buttery cream-colored layer below and scarlet cherries, coconut, and nuts in the layer on top.

Sift together 1 cup plain flour and 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar. Cut in 1/2 c. butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of an ungreased 11×7 or 9×9 inch pan. Bake in a moderate (350) oven for 10 minutes. Sift together 1/4 c. plain flour 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 c. sugar. Add 2 eggs lightly beaten, then fold in 1/2 c. maraschino cherries, finely cut, 1/2 c. grated coconut, and 1/2 c. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds). Spread over a blind crust and bake in a moderate (350) oven 30-40 minutes. Cool and cut into bars or squares.