1950’s Butterscotch Cookies

DSCF0246In 1627, Dutch colonists first introduced cookies (koekjes) to the New World at Nieuw Amsterdam.  Nearly two centuries later, in 1820, Washington Irving delightfully describes a Dutch tea in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; here he writes about “an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or oly koeks…”

Cookies are meant for children.  Receiving these treasures was a rather rare, but exquisitely welcome, incident for my siblings and me when we were growing up.

DSCF0254In our home, these occurrences were infrequent due to the presence of much turmoil; as the enemy of our souls does with everyone, he relentlessly tried to destroy my family.  He unsuccessfully attempted to prohibit the effective outpouring of each of our good works, which God ordained for us before time.

My mother was an orphan who suffered great abuse; thus, she faced the inherent hardships of raising a family with an extremely fragile makeup.  Because of her upbringing, her emotional composition was brittle, leaving her temperament volatile back then.

In this extremely uncertain environment, I was stalwart in my tenacious quest for balance, making me a peacemaker.  To a fault, I strove to maintain harmony in all our relations; thus, I acquired mental breakdown early in my life.

As a result of my mother’s pure childlike faith, all things worked together for good to us.  Her unceasing prayer has moved mountains for her children and grandchildren over all these years.  What the careless, unintelligent enemy meant for harm, God turned into mighty good!

Five years ago I was standing, with my whole heart, for healing of this mental illness.  In my great anguish, I heard erroneous directions to accomplish this end: I cut off all relations with my family of origin, believing they were the entire cause of my pain.

Even with all these twisted perceptions, our gracious Father, however, judged my heart pure and sent a series of miracles to me.  Among them came a strong rebuke from a Pakistani missionary; shortly after, the play Alice in Wonderland taught that no persons of men, but the principalities and powers behind them, hurt us.  Our Father’s loving revelation resulted in my seeking forgiveness from him, then my mother.

The thief had so convinced me that Mom was the source of evil in my life.  Tears come when I recall her tender response to my plea for exoneration: “Thank God, my greatest fear was that I might die, leaving this burden with you for the rest of your life.”

Cookies and children are a gift from God.  My prayer is for us to quiet our spirits, step out in faith, and make my uncomplicated recipe; thus, we will feed the little ones in our lives and our own hearts too.

1950’s cooking instructions were often vague; therefore, I have devised complete directions, with foolproof shortcuts.  Don’t miss this memorable taste experience!


James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1995) pp. 120, 208, 209.


burning butter for frosting/ dough on parchment paper

1950’s Butterscotch Cookies  Yields: 3 1/2 dozen.  Total prep time: 4 3/4 hr or overnight (time for chilling dough: 3 hr or overnight)/  active prep time: 30 min/  baking and frosting time: 1 1/4 hr.

Note: this is one of favorite childhood recipes.

2 1/2 cups flour  (May grind 1 2/3 cups organic, soft white winter wheat berries to make 2 1/2  cups flour.)

1 cup cream, soured with lemon juice from ball

1/2 cup butter  (Unsalted is preferable for baking.)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed down  (Organic from Trader Joe’s is best.)

2 extra-large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt  (Real salt is important for optimum health; available in health section at local supermarket.)

1/2 cup of pecan pieces, optional

Burnt Butter Frosting

1/2 cup butter

2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Mix dough ahead of time.  If using fresh ground flour, grind now.
  2. Place cream in a medium/large bowl (the size of bowl is important), spread 5 large squirts of lemon juice from a ball over entire surface, let sit for 10 minutes to sour cream, it will be curdled when ready.  Measure again to use only 1 cup of this soured mixture.
  3. Beat butter with a mixer, or by hand, until light.  Blend in sugar until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition.
  4. Mix in vanilla.  Set aside.
  5. In a medium/large bowl, mix baking soda, baking powder, and salt into flour with a fork.
  6. Add flour mixture and 1 cup cream (measured again after souring) alternately to butter mixture, blending well with each addition, until all is incorporated.
  7. If using nuts, mix them in now.
  8. Cover and chill dough for 3 hours or overnight.
  9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and spoon dough on paper (see photo).  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until cookie responds, or bounces back, when pressed lightly with finger tip; bottoms will be browned, but not dark.  Repeat process, preferably on another pan, getting second batch ready for baking, as soon as first batch comes out of oven.  Note: be sure cookie sheet is cool before spooning chilled dough on it; cover with a new piece of parchment paper; may place sheet in refrigerator to cool quickly.
  11. As the very last batch is baking, begin making frosting.  DO NOT MAKE AHEAD as the hot butter solidifies with sitting, which makes it hard to spread on fragile cookies.
  12. Cook 1/2 cup butter in a small sauté pan until well browned, it will actually be burnt (see photo).
  13. Place hot butter in a medium/large mixing bowl, mix in powdered sugar until frosting is formed, blend in salt and vanilla.  Set aside.
  14. As soon as cookies are cool, frost them.  To cool quickly, it works well to place pan filled with cookies in refrigerator.
  15. These freeze well for unexpected company.  Be sure to let frosting harden before combining them in sealed freezer bag.
  16. I love these!

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