Sunday, October 5, 2014

Caroline's Joe Frogger Cookies

Super tasty molassesy cookies with an interesting origin story!

Caroline Abbott is the newest addition to the historical character line up - excuse me, the BeForever line at American Girl, and I imagine most of my non AG fan readers aren't familiar with her. Her stories take place during the War of 1812, and although she comes from Sackets Harbor, New York, for some reason, I always find myself wanting to do New England or maritime recipes with her, probably because she loves boats and sailing, and I associate that pretty strongly with my own roots.

Plus, I've maybe been wanting American Girl to make a historical character from New England since forever, and Caroline's another character from New York, so I'm borrowing her for a while until I get someone closer.

Caroline technically joined the group back in May for my birthday, but I've been sitting on a way to introduce her for a while. Quite a while at this point!

To get some inspiration for this post, Caroline and I went on a field trip...

To Old Sturbridge Village! Technically, Sturbridge is supposed to represent post colonial America, generally ranging between just after the Revolutionary War was over to about the 1830's. It's not a real town that really once existed the same way that Williamsburg or Plymouth did, but the houses are all authentic to the period and have a fair amount of documentation about the families who lived in it and when. While most of the living museum will say they're leaning a little more towards the 30's than the 10's, there's still a fair amount of interesting information about what life was like during Caroline's childhood and onwards.

Seriously, there are lots of similarities, especially in this part of the world. People were still running working farms and working together as a community to provide goods and services to each other. Instead of the cider mill in town making everyone's cider and selling it, you would take your own apples down for the miller to make into cider, and would find a way to pay him with whatever you and your family specialized in.

Caroline's aunt and uncle own a farm, and she goes to help them out in her last book. She's put in charge of looking after a calf named Garnet, and so of course we had to go visit the cows while we were there.

We saw the sights...

Got a chance to chat with some people about historical cooking...

Caroline also had time to make a friend!

And stumbled upon the perfect treat to feature as Caroline's first official post on this blog!

Joe Frogger cookies can trace their history back to the end of the American Revolution. Technically, these are slightly souped up molasses cookies, but their unique name hints at their unique origin! Locals in Marblehead, Massachusetts say the name comes from Joseph Brown, an African American man who had fought in the Revolutionary War and opened a popular tavern near a frog pond. His wife's specialty were these cookies, and so the locals nicknamed them after the tavern's location, owner, and the fact that the batter often looked like frog's legs when it was first poured into a hot skillet.

To be honest, now I'm sitting here wondering why they're not called Lucretia Frogger cookies.

The recipe I used (and the explanation of the name!) comes from Yankee Magazine, and was pretty straight forward and easy to follow. You start by combining your dry ingredients and creaming your butter and sugar together. This recipe calls for a lot of spices, and I might have accidentally inhaled a lot of ginger while making it. Not a great thing to get in your nose, let me tell you.

Next, you combine hot water and rum together, and add it to the butter and sugar. I was actually really, really wary of this step, because I wasn't sure if it was going to totally melt the butter and kind of destroy the texture of the cookies or what, and also as I've said before, I really don't like alcohol and can usually taste it in things even after it's been cooked off.

So yeah, a little concerned.

But everything seemed to work out okay. This mixture gets the dry ingredients mixed in, alternated with the molasses until you've got it all incorporated into a nice, sticky dough.

The recipe warns you that if the dough seems too wet or too lose to put in an extra 1/2 cup of flour, and let me tell you, it really made a difference. That being said, the dough was still pretty wet.

But don't worry! You're supposed to chill it for at least 45 minutes, and that should help, right?

Nnnot exactly. Even after chilling overnight, this dough was wet and sticky, which made it really hard to work with. I gave up trying to roll it out after a while - it needed too much flour to make it worthwhile - so I just broke off the dough into small balls, squished them flat with a flat bottomed glass, and sprinkled the sugar over the top.

This worked okay, but it took a while and you really needed to be pretty generous with the flour to get them to be workable at all, which was definitely irritating.

Another thing: the cookies looked nice and puffy when you first took them out, but quickly flattened out. I'm not sure if this was what was supposed to happen, but the cookies definitely still had a decent texture to them. They were just a lot flatter and less cakey than I wonder if they should.

Then again, the example pictures look pretty flat, so maybe we're okay.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies! Which were all quickly devoured or put aside to be passed out to people I promised goodies to. But seriously, it's a good one if you're looking for something to feed a crowd, and can be made pretty quickly as long as you're okay with letting the dough chill overnight.

And let me tell you, they were very tasty! The dough was too, I found myself snitching a lot of it while I was working on making the actual cookies. They had a good amount of spice to them, and the cookies were a little sticky, just like a good molasses cookie should be. That said, they had a nice crispness to them too, which makes these overall feel sort of like a molasses cookie and a gingersnap had a baby.

(A perfect combination, in my book.)

And because I'm a sucker for tiny things, I might have made some Caroline sized cookies with some of the left over dough.

They also didn't last long.


  1. I remember these cookies from when I visited Sturbridge many moons ago! They were delicious and a favorite of my nana's. I will have to give it a go. And who knew rum was in the batter? Even better!

    1. That was definitely one of the flavors people really seemed to enjoy! I have to admit, even I liked it, and I really don't like flavors like that usually!

  2. The recipe looks similar to my beer cake recipe...I wonder if you could use beer instead of rum in the batter.

    They look super yummy!

    1. Beer cake, you say? I've got a bunch of beer fans in my family, I'd be super interested to hear more!