A Butter Drop (1796) ★★★

I had some time on my hands so I thought I would make a quick cookie recipe to share with you all!
I wanted to do something a little older, since I've been stuck in the 20th century for a while. Actually, I found this kind of interesting. The newer recipes seem to appeal more to my modern tastes. Even just making these recipes really demonstrates how our tastes and ingredients have transformed over the centuries.

Anyway, this recipe is from the 1796 cookbook by Amelia Simmons. Her cookbook is recognized as the first known cookbook published in America (as opposed to imported from Europe). Additionally, the book enjoyed immense popularity and was printed in at least 13 different editions, not to mention the plagiarized versions which were also published. What is interesting to note is that the book was written only a few years after the end of The American Revolution. Clearly this cookbook reflected the creation of the independent American identity. Also - in the spirit of Thanksgiving - American Cookery contains the first known recipe for turkey with cranberries.

Although the recipe doesn't include anything in the way of instructions, there is a very similar recipe in the cookbook for Butter Drop Do: "No. 3. Rub one quarter of a pound butter, one pound sugar, sprinkled with mace, into one pound and a quarter flour, add four eggs, one glass rose water, bake as No. 1."

Original Recipe:
A Butter Drop.
Four yolks, two whites, one pound flour, a quarter of a pound butter, one pound sugar, two spoons rose water, a little mace, baked in tin pans.

The Verdict:
Not bad. I'm not a huge fan of rosewater, so at first I didn't like these much. Also, the mace reminded me too much of green beans (my family eats nutmeg on beans). Mr. Man said he loved them, though, and Little Y ate hers without a complaint. The cakes themselves reminded me of boterkoek, a traditional Dutch recipe that my mom always made. The connection - butter - is obvious. Despite the flavourings, I did enjoy these little cakes. I would probably even make these again, just with different flavourings (lemon and ginger? almond?). Oh, and I halved the recipe and got 16 small cakes.

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from American Cookery)

1 pound FLOUR
1 pound SUGAR
2 teaspoons ROSE WATER
A pinch of MACE

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Liberally butter a muffin tin or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, rub together the sugar, mace, and butter. Add the flour, eggs, and rose water.
3. Take about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball. Pat it into a muffin cup or flatten it on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until lightly brown. They will be very soft, so do not remove until cooled.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. I might make these! I love rose water.

    1. After posting this, I went into the kitchen and ALL THE CAKES WERE GONE.
      Apparently Mr. Man likes rose water too. In other words, they are apparently really tasty! :)