December 15, 2011

Colonial Christmas Cookie Recipe

This is technically a Federal Era Christmas cookie recipe but as with most recipes, it was most likely baked prior to when Amelia Simmons wrote her book American Cookery in 1796.
At this time baking cookies was not associated with Christmas. Cookies were just a part of traditional celebration fare and there are few denoted recipes for Christmas Cookies until the 1830s. Christmas was the beginning of the holiday season that lasted until "twelfth night" or January 6th. Many of the traditions now associated with Christmas were originally a part of New Year's celebrations of people in the 1800s such as cookie baking and gift giving. New Year's cookie recipes from the 1800s are far more prevalent than Christmas ones. The recipe before this one in the book was just titled "Cookies." This recipe is generally accepted as the first American Christmas cookie recipe ever printed. 

This recipe will make a truly hard cookie. But, as the recipe says, they soften up after 6 months! :D

Amelia Simmons' Christmas Cookie Recipe

-3 cups Flour
-1/2 cup Sugar
-1 1/2 sticks Butter
-1/3 cup ground Coriander Seed, powdered
-1 teaspoon Pearl Ash (use modern Baking Soda)
-1 Cup Milk (you may need more to make the dough pliable)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream butter into sugar and coriander seed in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients until it forms a pliable dough. Roll out dough to 3/4 of an inch and use a knife or cookie cutters to make shapes. Bake on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes.

I am thinking this is probably a good batch of cookies to make Christmas tree ornaments out of. They would probably smell delicious hanging with some gingerbread cookies.  This cookies pictured at the right were made by Miss Elisabeth at Reflections & Adventures of a Muser for their Christmas festival at the beginning of the month. It was a lot of fun and we made lots of yummy Christmas treats. 


  1. That sounds like a really fun and easy recipe to try! I definitely will when I go home for break today :D

  2. I would definitely turn the world upside down to try these cookies! You should stop by the USPS facebook page and share the recipe.

  3. what you're saying is that this recipe makes great Christmas-in-July cookies?

  4. Jacqui, :D

    Alternatively, you could do your Christmas baking in July for next year. That would sure simplify the holiday workload.


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