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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conway

Connecticut - The Constitution State

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Alternate Nickname “The Nutmeg State”

Suggested Nickname “The WASP State”

Two Truths and a Lie

The Recipe - History's First Cookies

Connecticut claims to have the first written constitution of any democratic society. Colonists drafted and approved the Fundamental Orders in 1639 which set rules on how to conduct elections, gather taxes, and placed limits on governmental power. This document served as a model for the U.S. Constitution.

Connecticut can also claim to be the home of the world’s first cookie recipe. The Hartford publishing firm, Hudson & Goodwin, printed “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons in 1796. This slim tome used the word “cookie” for the first time in print, you can see it here:

This recipe is a bit nonsensical to the modern cook. Old typefaces used a long “s” even though it looks nearly identical to an “f”. In 1796, the long “s” was already phased out at London’s best printing houses, but it held on for a few more decades in more provincial places.

Pearl ash is a household name for potassium carbonate which provided leavening before baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, replaced it. Also, the ratios seem preposterous. Most cookie recipes today call for 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, and 1 part sugar by weight. Simmon’s recipe uses 10 parts flour, 1 part fat, and 4 parts sugar. Simmons doesn’t use the creaming method either; she boils sugar and pours it over the flour mix.

At first, this recipe seemed too weird, but after scrolling the internet I discovered two things. First, rubbing butter into flour before introducing liquids is called the reverse creaming method. It is gaining popularity because it reduces gluten formation and leads to more tender cakes and cookies. Secondly, A popular New Zealand cookie, Hokey Pokey Biscuits, calls for homemade caramel poured directly onto flour. What works for New Zealand should work for New England, so I went for it.

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe. I went past boiling and let the sugar caramelize for extra flavor. I used baking powder in place of pearl ash. Finally, I used a lot more butter than Simmon’s called for because I like my cookies very rich and not too sweet.

These were surprisingly good -- not amazing, cookie recipes have certainly improved in the past 225 years. I probably would have had an easier process and tastier outcome if I’d just made snickerdoodles, but I’m glad I tried this.

Want to experience Connecticut for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...

I have not visited Connecticut, but I can recommend a lovely YA novel set there: “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” by Elizabeth George Speare

Time for the whole truth

Actor William Gillette designed and built the eponymous castle; it has nothing to do with the shaving company.

(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)

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