Around the World in 15 Cookies

Around the World in 15 Cookies

July 3, 2013

Cookies, or biscuits depending on what part of the world you’re in, are a popular staple all around the world. They may be only for a more special occasion like Christmas, or you may have a sweet tooth and have to have one everyday. Whatever the case, it is something that ties the world together. I have chosen 15 countries, and a cookie from each to tell you about. Maybe on your next trip you can track it down!


1. Chocolate Chip Cookie and Girl Scout Cookies
chocolate-chip-cookie_01Ok, so I cheated. For the United States, I couldn’t choose just one because there were just TOO MANY to choose from. Chocolate chip cookies are the Plain Jane, perfect goodness of the world, but then the United States also brought us Girl Scout Cookies, and if you’ve had one, it’s sure to have changed your life. Don’t worry, this is the only country where I picked 2.

The chocolate chip cookie was accidentally developed in 1930 by Ruth Graves Wakefield. She owned the Toll House Inn, in Whitman, Massachusetts. Wakefield was said to have been making chocolate cookies and was running out of baker’s chocolate, so she substituted broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate from Nestle thinking they would melt and mix into the batter. They didn’t, and thus, the chocolate chip cookie was born.Cookie_Bundle_sml

The first Girl Scout Cookie sales by a scout unit were in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1917. In 1933, the first official sale was organized, and in 1936 the organization began licensing commercial bakers to produce cookies. Today, there are up to 28 varieties of Girl Scout cookies offered. The very popular Thin Mints bring in 25% of all sales, while some other popular varieties are Samoas (Caramel deLites), Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties), Do-si-dos (Peanut Butter Sandwiches) and Trefoils (Shortbreads). 175 million boxes are sold annually nationwide.


tumblr_ljq5plwzMK1qzgedpo1_5002. Tim Tam
This delicious cookie comes to us all the way from the land down under… Australia! It was created by Ian Norris, who was the director of food technology at Arnott’s. In 1958, he took a world trip looking for inspiration for new products. In Britain, he stumbled across the “Penguin” biscuit, and decided to make a better version.

tim tam slam 004

Tim Tams made their market debut in 1964, and got their name from the 1958 Kentucky Derby winning horse Tim Tam, a winning horse for a winning biscuit. It seemed fitting. They are now sold in many countries around the world, in many different varieties. The original biscuit is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

One popular activity that has been popularized by the Tim Tam is the “Tim Tam Slam.” This is where you bite off opposite corners of the biscuit, submerge one end in a hot beverage, such as hot chocolate, and then drink through the biscuit like a straw. The inside softens, the outside melts, and the wholes experience makes for a delicious treat.


3. Digestive biscuit foodsofengland hillsdigestives
Despite its not so appealing name, this biscuit is quite popular in the United Kingdom. It’s a semi-sweet biscuit that is usually consumed for tea, and comes in a variety of flavors including dark and milk chocolate. This delicious little treats date as far back as 1851 where one issue of The Lancet London advertised at least two sources of digestive biscuit. Annually, 71 million packets of these packets are sold in the UK alone, and each second 52 biscuits are consumed. Crazy!


imgres4. Torun Gingerbread
We couldn’t go on a cookie journey without finding some kind of gingerbread, and this kind derives from Poland. The Torun gingerbread can be filled with chocolate, or icing, depending on the variety. The Polish treats have been produced since the Middle Ages in the city of Torun (hence the name). A considerable factor behind its development and success was its close proximity to the flour, honey, and spices it needed to be baked. The first mentioning of this cookie dates back to 1380! It speaks of a local baker name Niclos Czana. His cookie quickly gained fame across Poland and abroad.


5. Almond biscuitchinese-almond-cookies
The famous Almond biscuit, or Almond pastry, derives from China. You may think the Chinese cookie of choice would be the fortune cookie, but that is actually from the United States! This biscuit is one of the most standard pastries in Canton, and can also be found in some Chinatown bakery shops overseas. These biscuits are small, crunchy, and with no filling by default.


imgres-16. Alfajor
This yummy treat comes from Spain, and can be found in parts of Latin America, including Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico. There are differing histories behind this sweet, but one thing is certain. It was so popular that they were already in the warehouses of the first ships of the Spaniards on their way to America. The basic cookie consists of two round, sweet biscuits joined together with mousse, dulce de leche or jam. There are differing varieties to the alfajores depending on which countries you are in.


7. Berner cookieberner
The Berner Honiglebkuchen is a traditional Christmas cookie from Berne, Switzerland, made with honey. It is often confused with the Berner Haselnusslebkuchen because of its similar appearance. This cake is a traditional Christmas cake, also from Berne, Switzerland, made from ground hazelnuts. You can tell them apart because the cookies have more elaborate sugar decorations. Modern day recipes are adaptations from 16th century recipes, and the embellishments are made according to decades-old traditions.
(Cake pictured above; Cookie pictured below)


images8. Kleicha
This dried fruit sensation is the national cookie of Iraq. It contains a dried fruit, usually dates, and is flavored with cardamom and sometimes rose water, and glazed with egg wash. Ancient Babylonians were known to make similar cookies called qullupu, which were known to be round in shape, also taking note that the modern term for Kleicha derives from the Semitic word kull meaning whole, and the Greek words kolo meaning circle and kuklus meaning wheel.


9. Coyotasimages
This Mexican cookie is large, flat and usually made with brown sugar. Coyotas are a sugar cookie that originated in El Fuerte, Sinaloa, Mexico, in the 19th Century. The version most commonly enjoyed today dates back to 1954, and was prepared at Villa de Seris in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.


pizzelle10. Pizzelle
This waffle cookie originates from Italy. It is made from flour, eggs, sugar, butter (or vegetable oil), and flavoring (often vanilla, anise, or lemon zest). It can be hard and crisp, or soft and chewy depending on the ingredients you use and your method of preparation. They were originally made in Ortona, Italy. The name comes from the Italian word for “round” and “flat”: pizze, which is also the meaning of the word pizza. It is one of the oldest known cookies, and it is very popular during Christmas and Easter.


11. KourabiedesKourabiedes_platter_2008_01_08
These butter cookies come to us from Greece. They resemble a light and airy shortbread, but almonds are usually added when they are made. They may also be flavored with vanilla, rose water or liquors such as metaxa. The original origin of the recipe for this cookie in either 7th century Persia shortly after sugar became available, or Iran in the city of Tabriz. This version, however, after cooled is rolled in icing sugar for extra sweetness. They are especially popular for occasions such as Christmas or baptisms.


rosette cookies 112. Rosette
This cookie comes from Scandinavian (Swedish and Norwegian) descent. It is a thin, cookie-like deep-fried pastry shaped like a flower. They are made using intricately designed irons heated to a very high temperature in oil, dipped into the batter, then re-immersed in the hot oil to create a crisp shell around the metal. Usually the edges of the rosette are dipped into frosting or sugar. These treats are enjoyed all over the world, but most especially during Christmas time and special occasions.


13. Berger cookieimages-1
The famous Berger cookie derives from Germany. It is a buttery vanilla wafer topped with thick creamy fudge. While the recipe does derive from Germany, this cookie is an iconic part of Baltimore, Maryland’s culture. It was brought to the USA by George and Henry Berger in 1835. Henry owned a bakery in East Baltimore, which was later run by his son, Henry. These cookies are very popular to this day, winning “Best Cookie” in 2011.


pb0714. Tareco
This little disk-shaped biscuit comes to us from Brazil. It’s made of wheat flour, eggs and sugar. Quite simple! It was first made in Brazil’s Pernambuco state, and then introduced to Brazil’s entire Northeast. It is so popular it is mentioned in poetry and lyrics, such as the song “Tareco e Mariola” by Flavio Jose.


15. Russian tea caketumblr_lveht84kk91qaiqgho1_400
Last, but not least, on our journey is the Russian tea cake, from none other than Russia. It is a jumble-like pastry that generally has ground nuts. And then after baking, while the cake is still hot , it is coated in powdered sugar, and then again once it has cooled. It dates bake to the 18th century in Russia where it was used in a tea-sharing ceremony. By the 20th century, they were part of wedding and Christmas traditions in different parts of the world.


Phew! That was a long (and probably fattening!) trip around the world! Feel free to comment and tell us your favorite cookies from around the world!

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