Joe Froggers are 200-year old New England cookie royalty, and even if the name isn’t a familiar one to you, spend a little time here and before long you’ll be reaching for the molasses so you never have to be without them again.
The cookies originated in Marblehead, MA in the late 18th century, where a couple known as Aunt Crease and Old Black Joe Brown maintained a pond-side tavern. Inside, they served spirits and enormous salad-plate sized cookies flavored with molasses, rum, and spices, nicknamed “Joe’s Froggers” as an ode to the large frogs living in the pond. Because the molasses and rum helped them stay soft and chewy for a long time, they were extremely popular not only with local residents, but with sailors heading out to sea.
The popularity continues today. Unlike ultra-crispy gingersnaps, Joe Frogger cookies have a lightly crisp edge and a soft, chewy center. Most of today’s Joe Froggers run a lot smaller than their colonial counterparts, but if you want the real deal you can swap out your 2-inch cookie cutter for the mouth of a large coffee can.
This is a sticky dough, so I also opted to make the cookies by breaking off pieces of dough, rolling them into balls, then pressing them down with the bottom of a drinking glass before baking, rather than rolling out the dough and using a cookie cutter.
Have a glass of milk ready and be willing to share – Yankee staffers found it hard to eat just one!