Friday, March 10, 2017

Cookies and tea with Judy and Vee


(Being a shameless spin-off of My friend Vee's recent post, That Promised Chat, in which she discussed tea, cookies, craft projects, and more.)

After reading Vee's post, I had so much that I wished to comment on; really, too much to just leave in a comment on her post.  I asked if she would mind if I wrote a post of my own concerning her chat, and she told me, "Go for it!  We all get ideas from each other."

I think, actually, I am going to have to divide this into two posts.  The discussion of the cookies alone is going to take a lot of space.  I must admit, too, that I am cheating in that I have not actually baked cookies myself for the post.  I've baked cookies from the recipe I'm sharing,  many a time (it makes nine dozen), but not this time.

It actually all started, I guess, with Judy’s White Crackle Cookies, which she posted on her blog, Cranberry Morning.
Photo by Judy at Cranberry Morning
When I saw those cookies and read the post, I thought, "Those look a lot like my old favorite Angel Cookies!"  When I noticed that the recipe called for cream of tartar and brown sugar, I was quite sure of it.

I must explain that I own Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies, a perfectly wonderful 1978 cookie cookbook edited by Nell B. Nichols.  That is where I found the Angel Cookies recipe many years ago.  If you like to cook and bake and enjoy country-style recipes, and if you have never read or cooked from any Farm Journal cookbooks, you owe it to yourself and your family to do so.  One of the things I love so much about these books is the chatty descriptions with many of the recipes.  (I'll get back to this in a minute.)

I thought I would at least comment on Judy's post and tell her I had a similar recipe, but didn't find time to do that.

Enter Vee.  Judy's cookies reminded Vee of something, too: her mother's oatmeal cookies.   The recipe is very similar, but Vee's mother rolled the cookie balls in oatmeal prior to baking them.
Photo by Vee at A Haven for Vee
Unlike me,  Vee got busy and did something about it.  She not only baked cookies and took a gorgeous photo of them, but she wrote a blog post all about it -- That Promised Chat -- which also included a number of other interesting topics.

And that, in turn, galvanized me to write about my Angel Cookies.  I've already told you the recipe came from Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies cookbook.
Photo from ThriftBooks, where the book is out of stock.  My own copy has long been missing its dust jacket.
I told you, too, about the fun and folksy descriptions of many of the recipes, and I'm pretty sure that's what motivated me to to try the recipe in the first place.  Listen to this:

"An upstate New York woman says: 'They are our best-liked cookies.  It's a big recipe that makes about nine dozen so I make four different kinds.  
"I divide the dough in quarters and bake the first portion plain.  I roll the balls of dough from the second portion in flaked or cookie coconut.  To the third, I add 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces, to the fourth, 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts.'
 "You may think of other ways to introduce variety and interest to the cookie plate or tray."

Now, doesn't that just make you want to bake up a batch?

Here's the recipe as I have adapted it:

ANGEL COOKIES

1 cup butter or real margarine, softened 1 cup butter-flavor crisco
1 cup sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. salt
Optional ingredients/techniques*
Sugar for dipping tops

Cream together the butter, crisco, and sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time, to mix thoroughly. Add vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add to creamed mixture to blend well. If you like, divide the dough up and add some optional ingredients to each section to make different flavors of cookies. Chill dough for 1 hour or until it is easy to handle, if necessary.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and dip tops in sugar. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 or 2 drops of water on each cookie (to make them crackle nicely). Bake at 350ΒΊ for 15 minutes.

Remove cookies and cool on racks. Makes 8 to 9 dozen cookies.

(Recipe may easily be divided in half to make fewer cookies.)


* Optional ingredients: chopped peanuts, coconut, toffee bits, chocolate or butterscotch chips, etc. I think mini chocolate chips would be even nicer than the standard size.  Optional technique: Dip tops of cookies in cinnamon-sugar for a Snickerdoodle effect.

The actual recipe calls for lard rather than shortening.  I have never used lard in them.  Crisco works very well.

I haven't a clue as to why these are called Angel Cookies, but I imagine it may have something to do with their light, melt-in-the-mouth texture -- which, I think, is a hallmark of cookies made with cream of tartar.

Oh -- and a quick hint about cream of tartar.  If you live in New England (and maybe other places too) you do not need to spend big bucks for a teensy container of cream of tartar.  You can buy a wonderful New England product called Bakewell Cream and get a much larger container at a far better price.  I buy it at my local grocery store, but it can also be ordered online from New England Cupboard or from Amazon.
Photo from New England Cupboard
I found a picture of someone else's Angel Cookies since I didn't have time to bake any.
Photo from Bitz & Giggles
The recipe is shared by Sara of Bitz & Giggles as a guest post on I Heart Naptime.  The link will take you to her recipe, which is pretty like much my recipe cut in half.  Sara's grandmother used to bake them for her, and the recipe has been in Sara's family for as long as she can remember.  This cookie recipe has obviously gotten around over time.

Now, how about some tea with those cookies?  I recently found this package of Irish Breakfast Tea (80 teabags!)
Front of package
Back of package
at  Ocean State Job Lot for not much money at all.  It's very good, and the package is so pretty that it's currently serving as part of the March decor on my hutch.

This post has rambled on for long enough.  Time for a break for cookies and tea.  I'll post Part 2 another day.

8 comments:

  1. Oh that's interesting! What a big batch of cookies, too. Sometimes, you just need a huge bunch of them. My mother's cookies are ones that I can remember from childhood so who knows from whence they originated. I do like Judy's method a lot for topping the cookie...it works like a charm!

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  2. Oh, yes, I hadn't noticed that method! It accomplishes the sugar topping and the drops of water in one step. That WOULD work well. I'll have to make a note to try that next time I bake these.

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  3. I read both Judy and Vee's post about these cookies. It seems like my late mother and her dear friend used to make Angel Cookies. Thanks for the sweet reminder! Have a lovely day.

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    1. You are welcome, Mildred! Thanks for visiting and leaving such a thoughtful comment. It's interesting how many varieties of these cookies there seem to be, and how many people remember them from their childhood.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

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  4. I still haven't made those bars on your blog but maybe this Saturday will be the day as I have all my children coming. I need to make them on a day when they will be eaten and not by me!!

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    1. Oh, absolutely, Arlene! The rest of mine are in a tin in the freezer. My hubby claims he can hear goodies calling out to him from the freezer, but thankfully I have not had that happen to me. This would be a great treat to make when your children visit.

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  5. I own two Farm Journal cookbook and just LOVE them! I have never made Angel Cookies, but I must try them soon.

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    1. Aren't the Farm Journal cookbooks wonderful, Kitty? I have quite a few of them and there are still more at my parents' house that will need to find a home eventually.

      Hope you enjoy the Angel Cookies if you try them!

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