Editor's Note: You may know Alexandra Penfold as Brownie from the popular blog Blondie and Brownie. She'll be stopping by weekly, digging up long-lost classic desserts and regional favorites.
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I first encountered Joe Froggers, a traditional spiced molasses cookie, at the Publick House Bake Shoppe in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a regular pit stop on the drive from Connecticut to Maine. As a child, while I was more keen on their flower topped cupcakes, I was particularly struck by how these cookies, sold two to a bag, were about the size of my face. As I grew older I began to appreciate Joe Froggers for their bold spiciness.
The origins of Joe Froggers date back to Marblehead, Massachusetts some two hundred years ago. Legend has it that Joseph Brown, a freed slave and Revolutionary War veteran, operated a tavern called Black Joe's where his wife, Lucretia, or "Auntie Crese" to regulars, baked up molasses cookies the size of the lily pads in the pond nearby (hence the frog connection). Sailors prized these chewy cookies for their ability to stay fresh during long sea voyages. I'm sure the fact that they're made with rum didn't hurt either.
As I pored through Joe Frogger recipes one thing became clear; I wanted to make a cookie that a sailor would return home for. Most recipes suggested using a 3 inch cookie cutter. While that will give you a nice sized cookie; a nice, moderately sized cookie is nowhere near the experience of a true plate-sized Frogger. If you're in for these cookies, you might as well be in all the way!
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