Makes about 23 large cookies
This is what’s called a “community” recipe. It went around from baker to baker in the ’60s (it appeared at least twice in a Boston Globe column called Confidential Chat, in which readers wrote in and requested recipes from other readers; I found similar recipes in old cookbooks, including “The Mystic Seaport Cookbook” and “New England Cookbook,” by Eleanor Early). Joe Froggers, as the story goes, were made by a freed slave named Joe who lived at the edge of a frog pond in Marblehead in the 1800s. Fishermen liked to take them on board. Old versions, it is said, contained dark rum (use ¼ cup in place of the same amount of water, if you like), sea water, and shortening and were rolled out into large rounds. Later bakers made them with butter. Refrigerate the batter for several hours or overnight to firm it up. Rather than rolling, drop the batter onto baking sheets, and press lightly with a plate so cookies flatten in the oven. You can buy Joe Froggers at some bakeries, including the Bake Shoppe at the Publick House in Sturbridge.