Beth published this recipe a while ago and since then I have printed it down and thought about it a surprising amount. The name seemed so authentic and the recipe seemed so American, I felt that they must be the original cookies that Americans dream of, that they were, if you will the “cookies d’antan” (free pretention available here) and I wanted them. The biscuit aisle in the supermarket held no allure for me, I wanted Grandma Lucille’s monster cookies.
I emailed Beth. What is Karo? Corn syrup came the speedy reply. I was no wiser. What is corn syrup? Amazingly, Mr. Waffle found a bottle of Karo in the weird foreign products aisle of the supermarket nestling between cans of Spanish squid and British marmite. Incidentally, the recipe calls for a teaspoonful, so if anyone has suggestions of what to do with a pint of Karo, less a teaspoon, I would be grateful.
Most of the remaining measurements were in cups. I don’t know how much a cup is. I have generally used English recipe books before and, aside from Nigella Lawson, the quantities are always tiny. Nigel Slater is the kind of cook who would confidently suggest that a baked potato topped with cheese would make a nourishing meal for a starving family of four. I say this, so that you can understand where I am coming from.
So I got together my ingredients. A cup is 250 mls, it transpires. Dear God, that is a lot. There was more peanut butter in this recipe than was in the jar we bought in the supermarket. As I started measuring out my quick cooking oatmeal (4 and a half cups and, my sister told me that I had to use regular porridge and ready brek would not do) I realised that, if I continued at this rate our entire stock of porridge would be used up and our children would have to go hungry for the week. So I settled at three cups. A stick of margarine. How much is a bloody stick? Further call to sister in Chicago. 110 grams, in case you ever need to know.
My feeble European mixer (free with supermarket points) whined alarmingly as I tried to beat my thick paste thoroughly. As it began to squeal in pain, I decided enough was enough. I looked at my baking tray and I looked at the enormous mass of cookie dough. I put some out on the tray. I got another tray and another. I filled my whole oven with cookies. 15 minutes later I had 3 large cookie cakes; they spread and two tablespoons of baking powder is a lot. I wish my sister had told me before I started that the standard batch in American cookies is 4 dozen. 48 cookies, people. However, I confirm that despite a lack of peanut butter, mixing and porridge they are indeed the ‘cookies d’antan’. Should you wish to create your own cookies, may I direct you here.