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Take a tour of American regional cookie recipes

By: Lindsey Reynolds on Dec. 18, 2019, 3:59 p.m.
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The United States of Cookies

Though the word cookie can be traced back to Dutch origins (koekje means "little cake"), there's something distinctly American about these treats. Maybe it's because they're basically a blank canvas just waiting for inspiration, or maybe it's because their palm-sized portability makes them the perfect dessert for parties and get-togethers.

"I think our cookies differ largely in that they’re driven by home cooks," rather than pastry chefs in fancy kitchens, Stella Parks, author of "BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts," told The Washington Post. In a country as varied as the United States, it's no wonder we have a bounty of regionally specific cookies — whether that's biscochitos in New Mexico or fortune cookies from California or New England's whoopie pies, each cookie tells a story of local ingredients, time-honored traditions and, often, a brief history of a certain place and time.

"Cookies can be assembled from whatever you’ve got," adds Anne Byrn, author of "American Cookie." "They are not fussy or fancy, and that's why their recipes have lasted for generations." With that in mind, you'll find that many of these scrumptious treats were born out of necessity, but have stuck around because they're simply delicious. Sometimes, that's just how the cookie crumbles.

Full disclosure: the term "cookie" is used loosely here. Some of these sugary delights might be considered more of a candy or confectionery. Nevertheless, all are welcome on our holiday cookie platter.