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Recipe for Joe Froggers


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.


cups flour
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon salt
teaspoons ground ginger
½teaspoon ground cloves
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼teaspoon ground allspice
½cup water
1cup molasses
½cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1cup sugar
Extra sugar (for sprinkling)

1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.

2. In another bowl blend the water with the molasses.

3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one (or use the whisk), beat the butter and sugar until blended. Add the flour mixture alternately with the molasses mixture, beginning and ending with flour, just until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Make sure the bottom of the batter is well mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

5. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.


6. Drop the batter into ¼-cup mounds on the baking sheets, setting 6 on a sheet. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a plate.

7. Bake the cookies for 16 to 18 minutes or until they are just firm to the touch. Transfer the parchment to wire racks to cool. Remove the cookies and reuse the parchment to bake more rounds. Store with waxed or parchment paper between the layers in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 Sheryl Julian