Mrs. Allen’s cookies. No, this is not a new grocery store brand, but another installment in the Aunt Lou’s Archives series. By the way, Mrs. Allen was a real person. So, who was she? How did her cookie recipe end up in Aunt Lou’s hands. Whether she was a neighbor, the grocer’s wife, or a church friend, we will never know. I am however thankful that at some point in time, Mrs. Allen cookie recipe made its way to Aunt Lou’s kitchen and consequently to mine. It goes without saying that this recipe contained no instructions. My husband checked with his mother who has made these many times. I must admit, the dough/batter is rather unusual as far as cookies go. It looks a bit more like biscuit dough. My husband’s grandmother Kathryn McEvoy fondly referred to as Grandma Mac “improved” upon the original recipe by adding lemon juice and vanilla, just so you know. Thank you Grandma Mac!!!
My husband remembers his grandmother (Aunt Lou’s niece) making these cookies for him and his brothers. They would anxiously wait at her kitchen table with a glass of whole milk at the ready. There was a “method” to eating these cookies. First you either had to break off a piece or take a small bite. Yes, this was the way. “Why?” I asked, slightly puzzled. According to him, breaking off a chunk before dunking made the cookie more absorbent and “dunk-able”. Yes, dunkable is a word.
The texture or Mrs. Allen’s cookies is kind of a blissful marriage between a cake and a cookie. They have that soft interior that gives them its “caky” quality. The sour cream in the recipe certainly contributes to this marvelous texture. Did I say sour cream? Wait a minute! Sour cream wasn’t commercially available until about 50 years ago. This recipe dates from the Depression Era. So, where would Aunt Lou have found sour cream in the early 30’s? Well, she made it of course. To make sour cream, she would’ve taken 1 pint of cream a little bit of lemon juice and left it on the counter for about 3 days. (There is an old pint of cream in the photo above. ) Yeah, 3 days! A quick sniff would have told her that it was ready. Now, that is some serious planning!!
Mrs. Allen’s cookies have one raisin in the middle. This is the way they were made. Raisins were most likely expensive during the Depression. My husband’s grandmother never added more raisins, a quiet reminder of more difficult times. My husband and his brothers often asked “Grandma, can we have more raisins?” “No” she would smile and say. “Only one”. Consequently, today, my mother in law makes them the same way: with one raisin. We will carry on the minimalist tradition. Less is more. Mrs. Allen would be proud.
- 2½ cups sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- pinch of salt
- pinch of nutmeg
- 3 eggs separated
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add sour cream, lemon juice, egg yolks, and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda.
- Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter. Mix well until it begins to form a ball.
- Beat egg whites until they begin to form stiff peaks. Slowly fold into the batter.
- Working in batches, take 1 cup of dough and dust with enough flour to be able to roll the dough on a floured surface to ⅓" thick.
- Using a biscuit cutter, cut into 2" rounds.
- Place on parchment paper about 2" apart. Place one raisin in the middle of each cookie.
- Bake for about 8-10 minutes at 350 F