Rehoboth Contra Cookie Recipes


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Contra Dance Cookies
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Part of the fun at Rehoboth is the break when the dancers can converse, hydrate, change clothes, check the flyer table, and eat lots of cookies. There are many contributors and they many types of contributions, not just cookies. The recipes listed below are from an array of sources including from some of the dancers.

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
from Karen McGrath


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor and process just until the cranberries are broken down into smaller pieces. Set aside. Combine flour and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter. You want very fine crumbs. Stir in extract, cranberries and sugar mixture, orange zest and orange juice (optional). Use your hands to knead the dough until it comes together and forms a ball. Shape dough into a log about two inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 72 hours.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut slices of cookie dough about 1/4 inch thick. Place about a half a cup of sugar in a bowl and coat the cookie slices with sugar. Place cookies on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or just until cookies are set. Let cookies cool for several minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack. Let cool completely. Store in airtight container for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Karen’s notes: I used a food processor to combine (pulsing on and off) the flour, sugar, almond extract, and butter after I had dumped the cranberry/sugar mixture and orange zest into a separate bowl. I then placed both mixtures inside a large ziplock bag, sealed it, and kneaded. It did need 1 tablespoon of orange juice to form a ball. I used decorator’s sugar crystals instead of granulated sugar, but that would be fine, if you don’t have the large sugar crystals on hand. I use silicone baking mats on my cookie sheets. The cookies needed 14-15 minutes for the bottoms to be slightly brown and the cookies set. My yield was 45 cookies per batch.

Orange spice cookies
From The Complete Cookie
by Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey


Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Cream with an electric mixer at medium speed until light, at least 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until fluffy. Beat in the molasses and vanilla. Beat in the orange zest.

In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the spices and add to the mixture in the large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 350 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, combine the orange zest and the sugar for the topping and mix well.

Form the chilled dough into balls, using 1 tablespoon for each. Roll the balls in the topping mixture to coat and place them at least 2 1/2 inches apart on the ungreased cookies sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cracks appear on the tops of the cookies.

Cool on the sheets for at least 5 minutes, then remove the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling.

Yield is supposed to be 60, I get about 40.

Hershey's Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Heat over to 375 degrees F. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 5 dozen cookies.

I tend to bake for 9 minutes at 350 degrees. You can use anyone's chocolate chips. These days, I almost always substitute dark brown sugar for the light brown sugar and whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. They disappear even faster than the regular ones. Another variation is to throw in some fresh raspberries (about 11.2 ounces (two packages of 5.6 ounces each). That variation is called Raspberry Chocolate Chip Rosens (in honor of Sue Rosen). These take about 13 minutes to bake.

Oatmeal Raisin Saucers
From the Boston Globe Cookbook, Revised Edition
by Margaret Deeds Murphy
Recipe from Cakes and Cookies in the Confidential Chat column

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and molasses together well. Add flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix well. Finally, add oats, raisins and nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 36 cookies.

Either I am making smaller cookies or doing something else, but I average 72 cookies for a batch of this recipe. In addition, I tend to cook at 375 degrees F. for about 8 minutes. These cookies are very fragile. You may want to let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two to crisp up.

Williamsburg Sugar Cookies
From the U.S.A. Cookbook
by Sheila Lukins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. Cream the butter, shortening, and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk, vanilla, and orange zest, and beat well. Gradually add the reserved flour mixture, and beat on low speed to mix well.
With your hands, form the dough into small balls about 1 1/2 inches across. Roll the balls in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the balls with the bottom of a glass--they should be about 3 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.
Bake the cookies in the center of the oven until very lightly golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

These tend to run large and I make 3 batches (6 dozen) instead of the usual 12 dozen for a dance. Another good recipe from this book is Cookie Jar Peanut Butter Cookies.

Russian Tea Cakes
From the Mrs. Fields Cookie Book
by Debbi Fields


Cookies: Topping: Preheat over to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Add vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in flour and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined. Roll tablespoons of dough into small balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place dough balls on lightly greased cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Press down the center of each ball with a spoon, forming a depression. Fill each with a teaspoon of preserves or nuts.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cookies immediately to a cool, flat surface. When cookies are completely cook, dust them lightly with confectioners' sugar. Yield: 2 dozen

This is a special cookie that tends to be made only during the winter holidays. Not that it has anything to do with the holidays, just that because it takes so much time to bake, it has to be a special occasion for it to appear. Other cookies from this cookbook that have been successful include Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies and Marble Cookies.

Moosewood Fudge Brownies
From the Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen

Many optional embellishments

Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Gently melt the chocolate. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla.
Stir constantly as you drizzle in the melted chocolate. After all the chocolate is in, beat well for a minute or two.
Stir in flour and possible embellishments. Mix just enough to blend thoroughly.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cut into squares while still hot, then allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, if you can wait that long.

I've made these with the semi-sweet chocolate chips and they come out fairly gooey. I do recommend cutting as soon as possible, then dumping the whole pan out, if possible, to allow it to cool more rapidly. Moosewood recommends that you have vanilla ice cream to balance off this intense chocolate dish and I agree. Admittedly, this is somewhat impractical at the dance, but for home cooking, have some on hand.

Cowboy Cookies
From the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
by the Moosewood Collective

Preheat over to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, thoroughly cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and blend well.
Mix in the oats
Using a large spoon or your hands, fold in the chocolate chips, and the raisins and walnuts, if using. The dough will be fairly stiff.
On unoiled baking sheets, drop generous rounded teaspoons of dough about 4 inches apart.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden.
Cool completely before storing in a sealer container.

Variation: Add 1 cup of raisins and/or 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped toasted walnuts.

These cookies always go fast. Although I have found and used pastry flour, regular flour works well enough. I will note that I make more batches of more cookies from this cookbook than any other. Successes have included 110th Street Walnut Crescents, Cornmeal Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Regina's Ruggelach (yum!) [plus my chocolate and cinnamon variations on that theme] , Jammy Cake Shortbread, Black and White Brownies (the last two only once because they tend to be a bit complicated and not quite feasible for 70 dancers), and Chocolate Cranberry Crunch (of course, you have to have the cranberries). I would probably use more recipes, but the other types of desserts are not as feasible in large amounts.

Gingersnaps IV
From the 1001 Cookie Recipes
by Gregg R. Gillespie

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
Combine the flour, spices, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream the vegetable shortening and brown sugar. Beat in the egg. Beat in the molasses. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls. Roll in granulated sugar, and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly colored. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

I used butter instead of the vegetable shortening and they came out fine. I did try flattening the balls out to create a cookie with a larger diameter and that gives you a flatter, crisper cookie. I prefer the balls. Back at the Concord, Massachusetts Halloween Dance in 1999, I made the Pumpkin Cookies (1) as a seasonal treat. They may not appear to be the most appetizing cookie, but they disappeared quite readily.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
From the The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt milk and chocolate together over low heat (a double boiler is best).
Remove from heat and stir in the other ingredients.
Arrange by teaspoons on well-greased cookie sheets.
Bake about 15 minutes -- don't let the bottoms burn.
Makes about 40.

Because some dancers (and co-workers) have problems with wheat gluten, I make these on an occasional basis. A friend of mine describes them: "They're more like chocolates or macaroons than ordinary cookies." Make sure that you get the cookies off the pans quickly. They stick to the pans and you'll end up with pieces of cookie. Another non-wheat cookie to make is the Nut Macaroon from The Moosewood Book of Desserts.

Molasses Sugar Cookies
From Mom (okay, I'm sure that she found the recipe some place, but I don't know where)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (as usual, I bake at 350 because of my "hot" oven).
Melt shortening in 3 or 4 quart saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Add sugar, molasses, and egg to the shortening. Beat well.
Sift together flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
Add these to the first mixture. Mix well and chill thoroughly.
Form in one-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

These were an immediate hit the first time I made them and easily made it into the regular rotation.

Chocolate Fudge Cookies
From Chocolate
by Nick Malgieri

Mix together flour and baking powder and set aside.
Bring a pan of water to a boil and remove from heat. Combine chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over pan of water, stirring occasionally until melted.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs with salt, then whisk in both sugars. Whisk in chocolate mixture, then rum.
Stir in flour to form a soft dough. Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Chill 2 hours.
Set racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Flour your hands and roll the chilled dough into 2-teaspoon balls. They don't have to be too neat. Roll each ball in confectioners's sugar. Arrange well apart on prepared pans and bake about 12 minutes. Cool pans on a rack before removing cookies from pan.
Makes about 60 cookies. Keep the cookies between sheets of wax paper in a tin or other container with a tight-fitting cover.

An excellent book for those who have a slight interest in chocolate. Other recipes I have used include Chocolate Almond Tuiles and Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Absolutely Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cookies
From Death by Chocolate
by Marcel Desaulniers

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt unto waxed paper. Set aside.
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the semi-sweet and the unsweetened chocolates in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap and allow to heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Keep at room temperature until needed.
Place the light brown sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high for an additional 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time, while beating on medium and stopping to scrape down the bowl after incorporating each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and beat on low for 10 seconds more. Scrape down the bowl and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
Add the sifted flour, cocoa, baking soda, and chocolate chips and beat on low until thoroughly combined, about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
Portion 6 to 8 cookies per baking sheet by dropping 2 level tablespoons per cookie onto each of the 2 baking sheets. Place the cookies on the top and middle shelves of the preheatedoven and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom about halfway through the baking time. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 to 6 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer the cookies to the cooling rack to thoroughly cool before storing in a sealed plastic container. Repeat this procedure until all the cookies have been baked.
Makes about 36 to 42 cookies.

One variation to this that I ran into by accident is to leave out the brown sugar. You end up with a cookie that looks almost burnt, just slightly sweet (the only sugar is from the semisweet chocolate chips and the melted semisweet pieces in the cookie dough), and very, very chocolaty. Guaranteed to make the heart race. This is another wonderful chocolate book. I have made the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (fragile and I think that they are "heavier" than many people like).

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies
from Rosie's Chocolate-Packed, Jam Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book
by Judy Rosenberg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them with vegetable oil.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, both sugars, lemon juice, vanilla, orange zest, and lemon zest together in a medium-size bowl until light and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stop the mixer twice during the process to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the eggs and mix on medium- low speed to incorporate, about 20 seconds.
Add the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed for 10 seconds. Scrape the bowl, then mix until blended, about 5 seconds more. Scrape the bowl.
Add the oats and mix for several seconds on low speed to blend them in. Fold in the nuts and then the cranberries by hand.
Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies until the edges are golden and the centers are still light and puffy, about 11 minutes. Allow them to cool on the sheets.
If you plan to snack on them the first day, place the cookies on a plate or simply leave them on the baking sheet. After that, layer the cookies in an airtight container, using plastic wrap, parchment, or waxed paper between the layers, and store the container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Bring the cookies to room temperature before eating.
Makes 36 cookies

An excellent cookie book from the owner of an excellent chain of Boston-area bakeries. This recipe is good when you need a hit of fruit flavors.

Rosemary-Honey Cookies
from The Family Baker by Susan G. Purdy

If using dried rosemary, measure it into a small self- sealing plastic bag or mortar and pestle and crush the leaves very finely before adding them to the batter.
Yield: 30 to 34 cookies (3-inch diameter)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Coat the cookie sheets with solid shortening and set them aside.
In a large mixing bowl with a sturdy spoon or an electric mixer, beat together the shortening, butter, and sugar until smooth and well blended. Beat in the egg, honey, juice, and grated zest. On top of this mixture, add all the dry ingredients and the rosemary, then slowly stir or beat everything together until just incorporated.
Drop heaping teaspoons of batter on the cookie sheet, placing them 2 inches apart so the cookies can spread. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown with a slightly darker edge. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack. The cookies get crisper as they cool. Store in an airtight container.

This recipe has received numerous favorable comments. I like it because I am always on the lookout for non-chocolate, non-nut recipes to offset some of my usual predilections. Instead of a mortar and pestle, I put the dried rosemary into two baggies and go outside and start pounding on it with a hammer. Not quite the same, but it does the trick. The book includes a significant section of tips on ingredients and equipment.

Robert's Chocolate Cookies
from Cookies and Brownies
by Alice Medrich

Divide the Scharffen Berger chocolate into two portions as follows: Chop 6 ounces for melting and cut 3 to 4 ounces into chunks about the size of large chocolate chips. If using a brand other than Scharffen Berger, use the unsweetened for melting and the bittersweet for chunks. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Set aside. Melt the butter with the 6 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Beat the eggs with the sugar, coffee, and vanilla with a mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in a chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula. Stir in the flour mixture followed by the chocolate chunks and the nuts, if using them. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about an hour, or up to 4 days.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Drop level tablespoons of batter for small cookies or heaping tablespoons (equivalent of 2 level tablespoons) for large cookies, 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake until cookies are puffed, dry, and cracked on the surface but soft and gooey within, 8 to 10 minutes for small cookies, 10 to 12 minutes for large cookies. Rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper onto racks to cool completely before storing or stacking. May be kept, airtight, for 2 days at room temperature.

The recipe states that the yield is "50 small or 25 large cookies". I think that the number of cookies is optimistic. I get about 30.

Janet Richmond Condon's Hermits
from The Bake Sale Cookbook
by Sally Sampson

For the egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the shortening, sugar, egg, and molasses in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and mix until creamy. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt and mix until creamy and stiff. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the raisins and walnuts and mix again. Place all the dough in walnut-sized clumps on a greased 12 x 18-inch baking sheet, top with waxed paper, and, using a rolling pin, roll until an even thickness.
To make the egg wash: Place the egg yolk and water in a small bowl and mix well. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the dough with the wash. Transfer to the oven and bake until browned and shiny, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and cut into 24 pieces, using a pizza cutter. Yield: about 2 dozen.

I have made this recipe using an 11 x 15-inch baking sheet and simply taking the dough and pressing on it with my hands until it is level and fills the pan. I end up with a moist, chewy hermit, very unlike the supermarket bakery variety (my baking time goes to about 14-15 minutes). I just bought this book and look forward to trying out a few more recipes.

Soho Globs
from Rosie's All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed No-Holds Barred Baking Book
by Judy Rosenberg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease them lightly with butter or vegetable oil.
Melt the 8 ounces semisweet and unsweetened chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler placed over simmering water. Allow it to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl until they are mixed together, about 10 seconds.
Add the sugar to the egg mixture and blend it all until thick, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl.
Add the melted chocolate and blend 1 minute more. Scrape the bowl.
Add the flour mixture on low speed and mix until blended, 10 seconds. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts by hand or with the mixer on low speed.
Drop the dough by generously rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies until they rise slightly and form a thin crust, about 13 minutes. Immediately remove the cookie sheets and place them on a rack to cool.
Makes about 20 cookies.

For my typical size, I end up with 32. This was a winner right from the gate when I made them for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the current Thursday night series of dances at the VFW in Cambridge. I recommend letting the mix sit for a few minutes before starting to put the dough on the cookie sheets. This cookie spreads, so you don't have to put on as much as you might think to get a sizable cookie. As with the other Rosenberg book, some fine recipes. Another recipe that I have enjoyed is the Lemon Cake Cookies.

Way too many recipes that are too good
from Death by Chocolate Cookies
by Marcel Desaulniers

While I still would take the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts as my one general cookie book despite the fact that it covers more ground than just cookies, this one by Desaulniers went to the top of my list of chocolate books within days of its purchase. It is scary how many excellent recipes are included, starting with Chocolate Dalmatians. After making cookies from a dozen recipes, there are probably a dozen more that I want to try. I heartily recommend the Road Trip Cookies, Chocolate Boulders, and Black Gold Cookies. Simply an awesome book. One of these days I'll figure out which recipe to put up on the page.
Produced by Charlie Seelig
Last updated on December 5, 2016.