Monday, May 8, 2017

Molly's Honey Cookies for VE Day

Help the war effort with this clever sugar substitute!

Happy VE Day everyone! In keeping with tradition, I've decided to fire up my oven and throw together a mini VE Day bash, this time with a couple of my friends from grad school. We're going to watch the new documentary Five Came Back on Netflix, which I've heard good things about. I've read the book it's based on, and I enjoyed that quite a lot, so hopefully it's good!

To give some authentic 1940's flair to our get together, I turned to a cookbook I've been dying to try out.

Rosie's Riveting Recipes: Comfort Foods & Kitchen Wisdom from 1940s America edited by Daniela Turudich first got on my radar courtesy of the National WWII Museum. Even though it sounded right up my alley, I hesitated to buy it for a while, mostly because I was moving, I have so many books already, and also because my Amazon wishlist is twelve pages long, and deciding what to take home next when you're a borderline book hoarder can be a struggle. 

Fortunately, my grandma swooped in and picked it up for me as a Christmas gift, and I've been waiting for a chance to break it out ever since. 

The book is full of wartime photographs of people working on the home front, in factories, labs, and yes, the kitchen! Although the book does include information about what was rationed and what the government would advise people to eat to help the war effort, most of the text is devoted to period recipes with patriotic names like Victory Meat Pie and offer lots of substitutions for fats, sweeteners, and pretty much anything you can imagine.

Most of the recipes in here also seem like they're more than just a historical culinary curiosity: they actually sound like they'll taste good! Admittedly there's a lack of spice and seasoning in a lot of them, but that's not hard to tweak to fit a more modern palate. My only complaint is that the dessert section feels a little sparse. You all know by now how I feel about baking, and it always bums me out when a book doesn't have too many cakes, cookies, or tea breads for me to try out.

That said, there were a couple I was very interested in, and the one I ultimately chose to feature was the recipe for honey cookies. Honey is a great substitute for sugar, and it's actually a lot sweeter than the real thing. If there was no sugar at the grocer or you just didn't budget your rations to make cookies, you can go for the honey instead. I've only ever used it as a substitute once, with the honey cake I made for a Kirsten themed post several years ago.

The recipe is super simple. You just take 1 and 3/4 cups of flour, 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt, and two teaspoons of baking powder and mix them together in a bowl. In another, you mix together an egg, 1/2 of a cup of shortening, 1/2 of a cup of honey, and 1/2 of a teaspoon of vanilla, and then add the two together.

The dough is pretty easy to form and super soft thanks to the shortening. The book also advises that these can be turned into chocolate cookies if you add four tablespoons of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.

After letting the dough chill for forty minutes in the fridge, you can either roll the dough out or just make drop cookies. I decided to do drop cookies because sometimes I worry I put too much flour into cookie dough when I do rolled cookies, so I just formed balls with spoons and decided to go for it.

I didn't know how much the cookies would spread - the book doesn't give any instructions or warnings regarding spacing on the cookie sheet - so I gave them a decent amount of space. They puffed up pretty well after 15 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees, but didn't spread, and my first round came out pretty brown and crispy on the bottom. Pretty sure that was user error on my part: my oven dial isn't as precise as I'd like it to be. I turned it down a little bit for the second batch, and they came out okay.

The recipe says you should get about thirty cookies, but I made maybe half a dozen. Maybe I'd make them a little smaller next time, but I've only got a few friends coming over, so this wasn't as big a deal as it could have been.

I wasn't sure what these would end up tasting like. The honey cake I made didn't really taste like honey at all, so I wasn't sure if this would just be sweet, or vanilla, or just bland. 

Happily, these do actually taste like honey! They're also really light and cakey, at least when you make them as a drop cookie. It was a really nice texture and wasn't too sweet. I definitely think it would make a nice accompaniment to tea or maybe even coffee. 

They were also insanely easy to make, and definitely would work well for a last minute VE Day party so long as you had the ingredients. Overall, I was really happy with them and would definitely make them again. I'm slowly starting to build an arsenal of tea recipes for a tea party I'm hoping to throw, and I think these might be making an appearance.

So happy VE Day, everyone! Hope you enjoyed this peek into how I'm celebrating this historic holiday.

Interestingly, the publisher behind Rosie's Riveting Recipes also has a book about how to make the perfect vintage inspired wedding. Guess I know what I'm going to be purchasing next!

And you'll definitely be seeing more of Rosie's Riveting Recipes!


  1. The cookies look delicious and perfect for your VE celebration.
    Sorry. MFor some reason, I can't get Google profile name to show up.

    1. No worries! It can be finnicky. They were very tasty, would definitely recommend. :D

  2. My daughter has been trying to perfect a honey cake recipe (they're cookies). When she gets there, I will send it that way for you to try. I have been very happy tasting the trials.

    1. That sounds like a great job to have! ;D I'd love to see the finished result and give it a whirl!