While reading the Trader Joe’s Culinary Compendium (a delight in and of itself — see below) that arrived in the post last week, it contained this delicious tidbit, amongst others:
Early ovens didn’t have thermostats, hence the cookie. Back in 7th Century Persia, cakes were all the rage and cooking them required just the right oven temperature. With no needles, dials or digits as indicators, cooks would place “little cakes” in the oven as testers. Eventually, these sweet oven gauges became a prize on their own.
It goes on to add that the word cookie is actually a derivative of the Dutch koekje (-je being the singular diminuitive). All of this is, by the way, particularly entertaining because I only recently (in the last year or so) discovered (courtesy of M.) the concept of test cookies:
Cue shot of infinite mirrors? Though, I have to say, I’ve also made little test cakes recently as well, but being that I am in possession of such kitchen paraphernalia as needles, dials and digits, they turn out fine and end up not as cookies but simply as itty bitty cakes. (Which then spawned the succession of itty bitty triple-layer cakes…)
Anyways, the Compendium: