JELLY CENTERS – Gourmet, June 1948


1 cup butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
8 eggs
3 cups flour
1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Cream butter, add sugar, continue to cream until pale colored. Separate 6 eggs (whites will not be used). Make zest of 1/2 lemon and juice 1/2 lemon. Add yolks one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture, with salt, lemon juice, and zest. Gradually add flour. Refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix chopped almonds and granulated sugar. Separate remaining two eggs (whites will not be used). Beat egg yolks. Lightly flour hands and roll dough into spheres the size of a marble. Press the tip of a little finger into each to make a deep indentation. Dip side of cookie with indentation in egg yolks, then in almond/sugar mixture. Place on greased baking sheet or parchment with indentation upward. Bake until lightly brown, about 12 minutes. When cool, fill indentations with apricot jam or any red jam or jelly


This technique requires practice; I advise doing only a few cookies at a time until it works for you. The indentation tends to vanish as the cookie expands with baking, unless it is very deep. The original recipe says to sprinkle the tops with almonds/sugar. This does not work because the almonds/sugar fills up the indentation. A final problem that I never solved was that the cookies are somewhat thick and the inner part does not bake completely and remains raw even after the bottoms are almost burned. You can’t make the cookie thinner because it has to have that deep indentation. If you are fixated on this cookie, you might try baking at 325 or even 300 F for longer. When I was fed up with trying to make this recipe work, I still had about half the dough left. I settled for rolling it out to about 1/8 inch and cutting circles. This produced satisfactorily baked cookies that, curiously, had a flaky texture, almost like a mock puff paste. They were nearly flavorless, though. They might be rescued by any of the flavors in previous cookies in this series that I liked.

And that’s all, folks! At least for this season. I might do this next year. Let me know if you liked it!

First photo below: Gourmet. Second photo: mine.




6 eggs
1 pound butter
2 1/2 cups sugar, separated
6 cups flour
1 lemon
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds

Hard boil 3 eggs, press the yolks through a fine sieve. (These whites are not used in this recipe.) Cream butter and add 1 1/2 cups sugar; reserve remaining 1 cup sugar. Separate remaining three eggs. Reserve whites in refrigerator. Make zest from 1/2 the lemon peel. When butter and sugar are light-colored, add the three sieved yolks alternately with flour and the three raw egg yolks. Add the lemon zest. The dough will be stiff, and for complete mixing you will have to knead it manually. If it is still too soft to roll out though, put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat oven to 350 F.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar and chopped almonds. Roll out to 1/8 inch and cut with cookie cutter as desired. Brush tops with reserved egg whites and sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake on parchment paper for 10-15 minutes, or until very slightly brown.


This cookie falls apart in your mouth. The delicacy of the texture is beyond any other cookie I have met. The taste is pleasant, with a very faint hint of lemon (the original recipe says you may substitute 2 teaspoons brandy). My only complaint about this aristocratic cookie is its overly faint flavor. It would benefit from a teaspoon or two of vanilla and a half-teaspoon of salt, and perhaps whatever other flavorings you like. (See previous recipe with just the right amount of nutmeg, as an example.) I also don’t think that the sugar and almonds on top add very much.

This makes a lot of cookies. If you use a smallish cookie cutter, you will probably get at least twelve dozen. The recipe could be cut in half (with a little difficulty due to the 3 raw egg yolks) if you want fewer.

The sieved cooked egg yolks are interesting. I haven’t met that before, either. The purpose seems to get a little more eggy umami into the cookie while preserving its delicate texture. Raw egg, when it cooks, gives firmness and body to baked goods, which do not necessarily improve a cookie.

I tried making this cookie with a favorite flavor combination of mine, vanilla and lemon rind. I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest (about a whole lemon’s worth), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. I brushed the tops with egg white and added a pecan half. The results were superb.

Next week: our last recipe this year, Jelly Centers, from 1948.


First photo below: Gourmet.  Second photo: mine



1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sherry


Cream butter, add sugar and cream until light-colored. Beat eggs and add to butter and sugar. Mix flour with salt and spices. Mix it in, alternating with the sherry. Chill overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick and cut shapes with cookie cutter. You must use a greased baking sheet for this recipe: parchment will burn at 450 F. Bake about 7 minutes or until barely brown at the edges. Check frequently. A very hot oven will take the cookies from raw to burned in a minute.


This is one of my two favorite recipes in this first batch of eight. This is a shortbread-type cookie, and I am sucker for shortbread. One quality that I especially admire is its delicate use of nutmeg. Nutmeg has a very penetrating flavor, and even a little too much will spoil a recipe (in my opinion). These cookies have exactly the right amount, just enough to hint of the Orient, an allusive whiff of mystery and distance and wonder.

Questions: I don’t understand the use of sherry. It’s too small an amount to taste, at least for me. I don’t understand the need for a 450 F oven. 350-375 F is a more normal range for cookies, and a higher temperature makes it too easy to ruin a pan of cookies by leaving them in 30 seconds too long.

Incidentally, the Gourmet photo shows a light blue icing. This was not in the original 1946 recipe. I don’t know why it was added. The technique, in the back of the book, is a fiddly business, using three piping bags, two nozzles, icing of two different colors and two different densities, and three separate applications. I can’t imagine it improved this already splendid cookie, and I elected not to bother.

Next week: our third shortbread cookie, also a winner.

Below: first photo Gourmet, second photo by me.

DATE BARS — Gourmet, September 1945


14 graham crackers
3 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups chopped dates (an 8 oz package)
1 cup coarsely chopped or whole walnuts
Confectioners sugar


Pre-heat oven to 375 F

Reduce graham crackers to coarse meal in food processor. Mix in salt and baking powder. Add dates and walnuts. Beat the eggs well and mix with brown sugar. Mix this into the dry ingredients. Line a 9″ x 9″ pan with parchment paper and butter it. Pour into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove, cool, and when firm enough, cut into 36 pieces and toss in confectioner’s sugar.

This recipe has a curious history. It supposedly came from Katish, a colorful Russian emigre cook for a wealthy Los Angeles family. Stories of Katish’s adventures in America, along with her recipes, appeared in Gourmet magazine during the post-war years and were later collected into a popular book. However, Katish seems to have been entirely a fiction, whipped up for the purpose of selling stories and a Russian recipe book. Katish and her book are patterned off an even more famous book, Clementine in the Kitchen, about the adventures of a French girl who is hired to cook in an East Coast kitchen.


These bar cookies are very firm, chewy, and overpoweringly sweet. So sweet that the sugar blots out other flavors. Edible (I finished them all), but not something I would make again. However, I got to thinking that the recipe oddly has no shortening. Would that help? I made it again, this time creaming a stick of butter with the sugar, then adding the eggs, and then the dry ingredients in the usual order. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla. The results were, I thought, improved. The crumb was more open and tender, and the butter somehow cut the overwhelming sweetness. I was reminded of a dense carrot cake.

I think this recipe has possibilities. Suppose we replace the dates with dried apricots, the walnuts with almonds, and add 1/4 tsp or so of almond extract, along with the added butter and vanilla? Will be be trying that soon.

First photo below from Gourmet, second photo mine.


CINNAMON SUGAR CRISPS – Gourmet, October 1944


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup regular molasses
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 rounded tsp. salt
2 rounded tsp. cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar until light and pale yellow. Beat the egg. Add the vanilla and almond extracts to the molasses. Add egg and molasses to the butter-sugar mixture and beat in. Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients, then add them slowly to the mixer bowl, mixing thoroughly. The dough will be soft. Refrigerate it overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch, cut it with a small cookie cutter and bake on parchment for 10-12 minutes.

Results: Very pleasant, crisp little cookie that reminded me of ginger snaps, doubtless on account of the molasses. This is the last of the war years cookies, and the recipe still uses few eggs, not much butter (for a cookie), and a sugar substitute. Still an excellent cookie. The white discoloration of the cookie tops is flour from the rolling that the cookie does not absorb during baking. I’m not sure what to do about this; flour is necessary to prevent sticking.

Next week: our first post-war cookie and first bar cookie.


First photo below: Gourmet. Second photo mine.


SCOTCH OAT CRUNCHIES – Gourmet magazine, January 1943


1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup cold water
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla

Cream the butter until almost white. Add brown sugar and cream until as light as possible. Mix the cake flour, the baking powder, the salt and the oats in a bowl. Add almond and vanilla extracts to the 1/2 cup water. Add dry ingredients alternately with the water to the butter/sugar. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter. May be baked on unbuttered parchment for about 12 minutes. When ready to serve, spread with any sweet filling (I used cherry jam) to make cookie sandwiches.


This was one of my two favorite recipes among the first eight I baked. I have a weakness for shortbread, and although this cookie isn’t quite shortbread, it’s adjacent, as they say. It is both crisp and chewy, the latter from the oats. The oats also lend a pleasant oaty flavor, unusual in a shortbread-type cookie.

I thought making jam sandwiches was painting the lily. These cookies are delectable naked. I couldn’t detect the almond flavor though. When I make them again (and I will, you can’t stop me) I will try increasing it to 1/4 tsp, and perhaps the vanilla to 1/2 tsp. I love the oat flavor, but it tends to overpower subtleties.

You will note in my photo that the cookies have little nubbins on their edges. These are oats. A cookie cutter will not cut an oat. The Gourmet photo has no nubbins, probably because they have been cut off by the food stylist who took the photo. Food stylists are sneaky that way.

The second time I made these I tried turning the oats into coarse meal with a food processor. The result was no nubbins, but the chewy character of the cookie was gone. Still tasted fine, of course. I recommend leaving the oats whole.

Next week: a little sweetheart of a cookie, so crisp and flavorful it’s hard to stop eating them.

Below: Gourmet’s photo, my photo


Honey Refrigerator Cookies – June, 1942

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup chopped nuts, not too fine

Mix flour well with baking powder, soda, and salt. Cream butter and brown sugar until light colored, then add honey. Beat in the egg, then the flour mixture, finally the nuts. The dough will be soft and sticky. Form into two or three rectangular blocks, each about 2 inches x 1 inch. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight.

On the day of baking, preheat oven to 400 F.

You may grease the pan or use parchment paper. Slice a block of dough crosswise in 1/4 inch slices. 7 min in the upper half of the oven leaves cookies slightly brown on the bottom. Ovens vary, so bake a test cookie or two first. They break cleanly when cool, but still a little soft in the middle.


This is the first recipe from the WWII years, and probably reflects Gourmet’s attempt to deal with the shortages caused rationing: heavy in flour, light in butter, with honey substituted for some of the sugar.

I regret to report that this was my least favorite of the eight recipes I made. The problem is probably me. I’m not fond of the taste of honey and with no other flavorings, honey dominates the cookie. The recipe suggests eating with cheese. I tried cream cheese, but it didn’t improve things. Your mileage may vary. If you like honey, you might like these.

Next week: a vastly better cookie (in my opinion), one of my two favorites.

Below: first photo by Gourmet, second of my results


CAJUN MACAROONS – Gourmet magazine, February, 1941


1/2 lb almond paste
3 eggs
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Mix the flour and sugars thoroughly. Put the almond paste through a food processor until smooth. Separate the eggs. ‘Slightly’ beat the egg whites, per the recipe. There are three recognized stages of beaten egg whites: soft peaks, firm peaks, and stiff peaks. ‘Slightly’ is not one of them. I settled for beating the whites until they were white, foamy, visibly increased in size, but still did not form peaks at all. Add the egg whites to the almond paste and blend. Add the flour/sugar mixture.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter it. (I actually use solid Crisco for such tasks.)

The recipe says that you may put small lumps of dough on the parchment with a cookie press or piping bag. I have never used a piping bag, and I thought the dough was too soft for a cookie press. I dropped teaspoonfuls off the end of a spoon.

Bake about 30 min, or until pale golden brown. As always, baking a few test cookies first to check for timing is advised.

Notes: 1) You can buy almond paste in many grocery stores, but I opted to make my own from a recipe on The Spruce Eats. It’s not hard. 2) I have stopped sifting flour. I consider this voodoo home economics. When flour is called for, I simply spoon it lightly into a measuring cup and level it with a spatula. Do NOT tap the cup. When a recipe calls for sifting dry ingredients together, I mix them well in a bowl, with a whisk. 3) These recipes are from 80 years ago, and some ingredients may not be readily available. For ‘fine granulated sugar’ I say sugar, for ‘powdered sugar’ I say confectioners sugar, for ‘pastry flour’ I say cake flour.

I have started using parchment paper on cookie sheets for recipes cooked at less than 400 F, but this is the only one for which the paper had to be buttered, or the bottom of the cookie remained on the paper. These cookies have no shortening in them.

The book suggests leaving all cookies on the pan for 2 minutes after removing from the oven, before moving to the cooling rack.


A lighter than air (almost), crisp macaroon, quite sweet, with a hint of almond flavor. These go quickly. A pleasant cookie, though to my tastes, somewhere in the middle of the pack in this group of eight. As usual, my cookies did not match the perfect photos in the book. In this case, my cookies mostly came out ovals, not perfect rounds. Perhaps I should seek enlightenment from a master of the piping bag.

Below: Gourmet’s photo of its cookies, and a photo of my results.

May be an image of oatmeal cookies, cookies and coconut macaroon


Christmas cookie recipes from Gourmet Magazine


Beginning tomorrow, and for the next seven Wednesdays until Christmas, I will post my experience with a recipe from the The Gourmet Cookie Book, a collection of the best cookie recipe from each year of Gourmet magazine.

Gourmet was published between 1941 and 2009. It was America’s first foodie magazine before the word ‘foodie’ was coined. Shortly before its demise, this collection of cookie recipes was published. It is now out of print, but used copies and even new ones can still be found.

I find it strange to think that the book’s oldest recipes are over 80 years old, a time when ‘gourmet’ meant Beef Wellington and Cherries Jubilee. Still, I found most of these first eight cookie recipes delicious and fresh, perhaps even with something to teach modern cooks.

If this project is received with enthusiasm, I may do the same next year with the next eight recipes.


For the past several years I’ve been a member of the writing critique group Bucks County Writers Workshop, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. During 2020, we put together an anthology of our work. I was the managing editor, with co-editors Lindsey Allingham, Natalie Dyen, and Candace Barrett. We acquired fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from present and former members of the workshop. I’m pleased with the result, and if you like short fiction, memoir, and contemporary poetry, I commend it to your attention. You should be able to order it from any bookstore, or from Amazon.