Events: New York Cookies

Traditional New York Cookies, stamped with historic Rooster and Kitty stamps.

I spent last Sunday morning at Old Stone House, stamping out cookies with the local kids of Park Slope.  The stamps are historic replicas from House on the Hill and are just. beautiful.  I was shocked at the level of detail the molds yielded; although I used them with 19th century cookie recipes, I think they would work well with most modern sugar cookie dough.

Stamped cookies are a tradition early Dutch settlers brought to New York (nee New Amsterdam).  Over the years, they became known as a New York tradition that transcended immigrant groups.  In the city, stamped cakes were passed out as treats on New Year’s Day, and as a memorial token at funerals.

Heating up the hearth at Old Stone House.  I lit a large fire and let it burn down to red and white hot coals.  Then, I pushed the coals to the back of the oven, and placed the cookies in the front.  To test the oven, I made Tollhouse break and bake cookies, and they baked exactly as long as they said they would on the package.  Voila!

A teeny helper dusts confectionar’s sugar in the mold.  The sugar stops the dough from sticking, and delivers a more detailed image.  Photo by Sharon Stadul

And then we stamp.  Photo by Sharon Stadul.

We made two cookie recipes on Sunday: one, a caraway and orange cookie, came from the book Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch by Peter G. Rose.  Man they were good – I want to experiment more with that recipe.  The second cookie was a nutmeg-cinnamon-rosewater cake called, appropriately, New York Cookies.  The recipes is from 1840 and I give it a B+.  You may like them, particularly with a cup of tea, but they taste too much like the 19th century for my liking.

New York Cookies

From Directions For Cookery, In Its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie, 1840.

1 cup cold water
1/2 pound sugar
2 ounces rosewater
3 pounds flour
1 nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, spices, and baking soda.
2. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it forms a course meal.
3. Combine rosewater, water and sugar. Add to flour mixture and knead, first in the bowl, then move  to a board, cloth or non-stick mat dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  Knead until the dough no longer crumbles, adding additional water if neccesary.
4. Cut into three pieces, setting aside two and rolling out the third.  This dough also freezes well if you don’t want to make the cookies immediately.
5. Roll the dough 1/2 in -3/4 of an inch thick.  Using a pastry brush, dust cookie mold with powdered sugar. Press cookie mold firmly and evenly on the dough.  Lift up mold, and cut out cookie using a spatula or a knife.
6. If possible, let the cookies sit out for an hour before baking.  Letting the cookies dry slightly also delivers a crisper image.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.


5 thoughts on “Events: New York Cookies

  1. Sarah, I always wonder when you cook things like cookies in a wood oven… do they smell of smoke???? You did a beautiful job with the mold…looks like the event was great fun>!

  2. When I tested the oven a few days earlier, I used store bought break-and-bake oatmeal raisin cookies, and they tasted distinctly of smoke. It tasted so wrong. I also tested the New York Cookies recipe by baking them in my gas oven at home, and they tasted incredibly bland. Much more bland than they did coming out of the bake oven.

    So yes? no? I think all hearth cooked food has a smokey taste, but one that you don’t necessary noticed when you are cooking over the fire, and yourself imbued with smoke. Perhaps even hearth cooking recipes even took this in to consideration!

  3. It is a little unclear as to how to incorperate the nutmeg. Is it to be ground? And would you really use a whole nutmeg grounded in the recipe. Nutmeg is a very strong spice and can easily overtake. Is that the flavor you are looking for?

  4. and before I forget, (I realize that this article was written in 2010), but do you also have the recipe for the a Caraway and Orange Cookie? For whatever internet reason it appears as a big empty square. Thank you.

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