A week ago, a co-worker emailed me with the subject line "government cookies." Apparently someone from GODORT went through and made a list of all the recipes they could find in the documents stored in the National Archives, and named their research guide, "Government Cookies." Many of them are historical, or serve a purpose like feeding 500 army men a peanut butter cookie for dessert. On the "molasses, honey, and other sweets" tab, I found the recipe for Joe Froggers, and I had all the ingredients. I didn't have plans for baked goods for Valentines Day, so the heart-shaped Joe Frogger was born!
The recipe links to the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, which is the home of the Joe Frogger recipe. The Smithsonian dove deeper into the background of the cookie and posted it on their blog.
The rest of this information comes from the posted recipe, and I'm reposting it since most of the time USA government documents are considered in the public domain.
A Joe Frogger is a ginger cookie that dates back to Colonial times. Joe Froggers have been cherished by generations of residents of Marblehead, Massachusetts. The cookies were originally baked by a man known as Old Black Joe Brown and an Aunt Crese, who maintained a tavern on Gingerbread Hill. Because the cookies would keep for long periods of time, fishermen would take barrels of Joe Froggers along with them on their journeys.
Joe Frogger Cookies
3½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup molasses
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/3 cup hot water
Mix flour, salt, ginger, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and allspice in a
medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat together the molasses, shortening
and brown sugar. Combine the hot water and rum.
Add the dry ingredients and the water/rum mixture alternately to the
sugar/molasses mixture. (If the dough is dry, add a tablespoon or two of
water.) Roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper until ¼
inch thick. Refrigerate at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets. Cut the
dough into 3-inch cookies with a cookie cutter. (The original Joe
Froggers were much larger. For the traditional size, use a coffee can.)
Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. (Longer for
the traditional size.)
The cookies are baked when they are dark around the edges and firm in
the centers. Set the cookie sheets on a rack to cool for five minutes.
Remove to a rack to cool completely