Chocolate Drop Cookies, a Vintage Recipe

Chocolate drop cookies with white frosting.

Recently, I posted on Facebook a picture of a loaf of bread that I made with a recipe from Ken’s maternal grandmother, Helen Kohler. Bless Social Media. The picture of the loaf of bread led me to a batch of Chocolate Drop Cookies.

Do you remember the 3-way bread recipe that I published nearly 3 years ago? Check back to see the recipe that can be used for free-form bread, rolls, or coffee cake. Later I used an adaptation of the recipe to make Swiss New Year’s Bread. Last week I used the same recipe to make two loaf pans of bread. So now it is a 5-way recipe! This is still my favorite bread recipe. Thank you Grandma Kohler. And thank you Kay Badertscher Bass for passing the recipe on to me.

And thanks to Facebook for allowing this conversation between Ken’s cousins, reminiscing about their Grandma’s cooking. Someone mentioned Chocolate Drop Cookies that Grandma kept in a big blue enameled pan. Several others remembered them. Then Beth posted the recipe card. She didn’t remember where she got it, but it is labeled “Grandma Kohler,” and meets the criteria that everyone remembered of the Chocolate Drop Cookies that Grandma frosted with confectioners sugar.

Grandma Kohler’s chocolate cookies

I cheated a little on the authenticity of my husband’s cousins’ memories. I frosted half the cookies in a simple confectioner’s sugar white frosting, and half in the same frosting with cocoa powder added. Apologies to Grandma Kohler, but I never get enough chocolate.

Chocolate drop cookies in black and white

In the recipe below, I have expanded on some of the sketchy directions, but stuck to the recipe. They bake up puffy and soft and they are unlike any cookies that I have made before. I am so grateful to Kay for sharing the post on Facebook and thus starting the conversation, and for Beth providing the precious recipe.

Chocolate Drop Cookies Cooling
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Chocolate Drop Cookies, a Vintage Recipe

A favorite cookie of my husband's cousins when they went to Grandma's house, Chocolate Drop Cookies is an authentic vintage recipe.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword cookie, chocolate, vintage recipe, Helen Kohler
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Author Vera Marie Badertscher

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Butter Room temperature
  • 1 Cup Brown sugar Sieved so there are no lumps
  • 1 egg Room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup sour milk Room temperature (See Note)
  • 2 squares chocolate Melted and brought to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Cup Cake flour (See Note)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line with parchment paper, two cookie pans.
  • Melt chocolate in microwave (See Note for alternate method). Set aside to cool
  • Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together into medium bowl.
  • Cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth
  • Beat egg into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in sour milk, then stir in cooled, melted chocolate.
  • Fold in dry ingredients only until well blended. Do not overbeat.
  • Drop by tablespoon, 1" apart on cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Test by touching top of cookie. It should still be soft but no leave an indentation.
  • Cool on pan for ten minutes and remove to cooling rack.
  • When totally cool, frost with confectioners sugar frosting of your choice.

Notes

When sour milk is called for, you can use regular whole or 2% milk and add vinegar.  For 1/2 cup sour milk, add 1/2 Tablespoon of vinegar to the 1/2 cup milk and let stand 5 minutes.  If you do not want to bother with this, it is perfectly acceptable to substitute 1/2 cup of sour cream or buttermilk. Plain yogurt will work as well. Just be sure it is not flavored.
Melting chocolate. The chocolate will melt more quickly and evenly if you chop it with a large knife before melting. I do not have a microwave so I had to come up with a different way to melt chocolate.  I put the chopped chocolate in a small pyrex dish and set it on top of my electric stove where the hot air from the oven comes through.  This recipe calls for such a small amount of chocolate that it melts very quickly.

Now that I am well stocked with cookies, I need to get back to the complex research of Obadiah Stout and his family’s wanderings through the west. See you next week.

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Mary Higgins: Adding Names to My Family Tree

Mary Higgins (B. 1699-D. AFTER April 1715)

I am pausing in my pursuit of the Stout family to take a look at my 6th great grandmother, Mary Higgins, wife of Freegift Stout. Interestingly, this research also allows me to add to my tree 7th and 8th great-grandparents named Higgins, and 8th great-grandparents named Newbold.

Richard Higgins, Pioneer, Grandfather of Mary Higgins

Plymouth

Like the pioneer settler of the Stout Family, the first comer in the Higgins family had the first name Richard. Richard HIggins arrived in 1632 in Plymouth Colony. Richard Stout arrived about 1643 in New Amsterdam (New York). Both Richards, as we will see, quickly took leadership roles, as they moved to new communities, seeking religious freedom and room to grow their farms in order to support large families. The grandchildren of these two men, Freegift Stout and Mary Higgins, married in New Jersey. (8th Great Grandparents: Richard Stout and Penelope Van Princis; AND Richard Higgins and Mary ___(widow of Yates).)

Richard Higgins, taylor (tailor) first settled in Plymouth Massachusetts, but later moved briefly to Barnstable, presumably as a step on his way to New Jersey. He had arrived in 1632, one of the hundreds of religious dissenters who left England and joined the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony during the 1630s. He soon married–in 1634 marrying Lydia Chandler (about whom we know little).

I read the main source on the Higgins family, Richard Higgins : A Resident and Pioneer Settler at Plymouth and Eastham, Massachusetts and at Piscatawnay, New Jersey and His Descendants on line (see Notes on Sources below). Author Katherine Higgins carefully documents all the information.

Eastham

About 1645, Richard Higgins left Plymouth with several other men and their families and settled in Nauset, later to be called Eastham.

The location of Eastham today. Note Nauset Beach, south of Eastham, still bearing the original name of the town. Google Maps.

By the summer of 1651, Lydia had died. Richard and Lydia had two sons: Jonathan and Benjamin.

In June 1651, Richard married a widow, Mary, whose husband, John Yates, had died in 1650. The only name we have for her is that of her late husband. The marriage records appear in the books for Orleans Massachusetts. The book on Richard describes Orleans, a Cape Cod village, as part of the town of Eastham. Mary brought a son, John Yates, to the marriage.

Mary and Richard Higgins had ten children to add to the three they brought from their earlier marriages.

Meanwhile, records show Richard Higgins traveled from Eastham, probably by boat, to the court in Plymouth 1653, 1654, 1655, 1657, 1658, 1660, 1665. He served as a member of a committee representing Eastham, not yet independent and later when it was recognized as a separate entity, as a delegate.

Richard Higgins apparently impressed community leaders as a successful tailor because among the responsibilities the town gave him–juror, road surveyor, legislator–the town leaders gave him the responsibility for a young boy, a ward of the town, as his apprentice. He actively bought and sold land and that indicates he farmed as well as working as a tailor, but about 1669 he started selling and giving to his older two sons land that he had accumulated. This action in preparation for his move to Barnstable and to Piscataway. In the New Jersey town, he once again assumed many leadership roles.

Piscataway

The town of Pisctaway, New Jersey today. Google Maps.

We can calculate the rough date of his death by land records: his last recorded transaction dated June 1, 1675, and one in 1677, referring to his wife Mary as a widow. He had accumulated in Eastham. That land totaled 254 acres by the time of his death–his legacy to his wife and children.

Jediah Higgins, Father of Mary Higgins

Next we come to the oldest child of Mary and Richard Higgins, Jediah Higgins, my 7th great-grandfather.

Jediah, a shoemaker by trade, took a leadership role in the community. He owned 500 acres in New Jersey, a considerable land holding–double what his father had owned. Like his father, he combined his trade with farming and civic/political duties. He served two terms (at least) in the General Assembly of New Jersey, and on numerous juries and committees. The main source on the Higgins family, Katherine Higgins’ book, credits Jediah with being more prominent than any of his siblings.

Jediah’s wife Mary Newbold came from Eckington in County York in England with her parents some time before 1684, the year she married Jediah Higgins at the age of 23. The Newbolds settled in Burlington County, New Jersey. [7th Great-Grandparents: Mary Newbold and Jediah HIggins. 8th Great-Grandparents: Ann (unknown maiden name) and Michael Newbold.]

Mary Higgins Stout

Jediah and Mary’s daughter Mary Higgins, would have been born in New Jersey in 1699. Mary Higgins father, Jediah Higgins, had been born in Eastham, Massachusetts. At the age of twelve, he moved with his parents and siblings to Piscataway New Jersey. Jediah was the oldest of the children of Jediah and his second wife, Mary. This caused some confusion about Mary’s place of birth. When I began my research, her memorial at Find a Grave.com said that she was born in Eastham, Massachusetts instead of New Jersey, her actual birthplace. It could have been either in Piscataway Township, or in Somerset County near Kingston.

Another daughter named Mary had died as a young child. There were two or possibly three girls still living when Mary joined the family and four or possibly five boys. She had one younger brother, born two years after she arrived. Two of her siblings in addition to the first Mary died young (date not known), so she grew up in a family of seven children (out of the ten born).

Mary’s father, Jediah, died in April 1715 and left her 50 pounds to be given to her when she reached 18 years old or married.

When Mary married Freegift Stout (date undiscovered, but circa 1719) they settled in Clover Hill, as we have seen when I wrote about Freegift. Although I know that Freegift and Mary had ten children, I have not found dates for most of those children. I do know that they all lived to adulthood, because there are records of their marriages. That made Freegift and Mary Higgins Stout extremely fortunate parents in an age when people actually expected to lose some of their children in infancy or early childhood.

Although it is difficult to put together a detailed timeline for Mary’s life, she obviously had a busy homelife. Her husband, Freegift, does not show up in books about the area where they lived, as his father’s had, so their life might have been somewhat quieter than that of Jediah and Mary Higgins.

Her six-years-older husband wrote his will in 1763 and died in 1769, at the age of 76 . His will gave the plantation where he lived with some exceptions to his son Isaac Stout (my 5th great grandfather) . Freegift’s wife Mary received all household goods and the will instructed Isaac to give his mother 10 pounds per year.

Mary Higgins Stout’s Will

Perhaps nudged by her husband’s death, Mary wrote her own will in 1770. Some of their children had died by the time she wrote her will, and she named her three surviving daughters, Mary, who now lived in Virginia, and Rebecca and Rachel, as her heirs. Mary seems to have no land of her own. So her heritage for her daughters consisted of household goods and personal belongings. The key part of her will follows:

 First I will that all my Debts and Funeral Charges be paid and discharged by my Executors herein named. Also I give and bequeath unto my — beloved Daughters, Namely Mary the wife of Richard Chamberlain of the collony of Virginia and Rebecca the wife of Edward Taylor & Rachel the wife of Richard Rounsavell — of the Township of Amwell aforesaid their heirs and assigns forever all my whole Estate whatsoever or wheresoever found that shall or may remain after the payment of my Debts &c. as aforesaid to be Equally Divided among them share and share alike And whereas my before mentioned Daughter Mary and her Husband living at a Considerable Distance, I commend unto them or whom it may concern; my well beloved son Freegift Stout to be Trustee for my said Daughter Mary or her Heirs And I do hereby Constitute and appoint my Trusty Friend and well beloved son-in-law Edward Taylor, Sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament and I do hereby disallow, Revoke and Disannul all and every other former Testaments Wills Legacys and Executors by me in any ways before this time Named Willed and bequeathed Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this Twenty Ninth Day of September in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy: 1770 Mary Stout (mark) Signed, Sealed, Published, Pronounced & declared by the said Mary Stout as her last Will & testament In the Presence of us the Subscribers (Viz.) Benjamin Stout Isaac Stout Mary Stout .

Mary died soon before 19 April 1773 (the date of the appraisal of her goods).

The family buried her at the Stout-Manners cemetery in Ringoes, New Jersey. Freegift’s father, David Stout, one of the first settlers in this area, gave some land from his farm for a graveyard. The Stouts and family of another early settler, John Manners had many intermarriages, and so the graveyard became the Stout-Manners cemetery. [David Stout: 7th Great Grandfather]

Summary

Pursuing the story of Mary Higgins Stout has added two more surnames to my family tree and 7th and 8th great-grandparents with the name Higgins and Newbold. I have now traced both the Stout family and the Higgins family back to the 8th great-grandfather, both named Richard, the first of their families to arrive in North America. Also, I discovered the Newbold 8th great-grandfather, Michael Newbold and his wife Ann, who were also first arrivals.

I will go back to talk about one of Freegift and Mary’s children, Obadiah, and then move backward in time Freegift’s father, my 7th great-grandfather, David Stout. (Reserving the right to tell the stories of great-uncles and aunts or cousins as I go back through the Stout line. You know I never can resist a good story. )

To wrap up the Stout family, you will learn the incredible stories of Richard Stout, pioneer of the Stout family, and his wife, my 8th great-grandparents in the Stout line. And somewhere in there, perhaps I will shed light on why my great-great grandfather Isaiah Stout decided to settle in Guernsey County, Ohio at the age of 17.

HOW I AM RELATED

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran (Doc) Stout, who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1822), who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1800), who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1773) who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1740) who is the son of
  • Mary Higgins Stout and Freegift Stout
  • Mary Higgins Stout is the daughter of Jediah (and Mary Newbold Higgins) who is the son of
  • Richard Higgins , first comer to North America in the Higgins line, and his wife.
  • Mary Newbold Higgins is the daughter of Michael and Ann Newbold.

Notes on Research

Richard Higgins : a resident and pioneer settler at Plymouth and Eastham, Massachusetts, and at Piscataway, New Jersey, and his descendants, Katharine Elizabeth Chapin HIggins ; 1918; Worchester, MA: K. C. HIggins Available free at archive.org in digital format.

New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817, accessed at Ancestry.com

Will of Mary Higgins Stout, transcript originally posted at Ancestry.com by user beanpod113. Posted in the gallery of my tree on Ancestry.com

U. S. and International Marriage Records (1560-1900), 2004, Yates Publishing, accessed at ancestry.com “Mary Higgins, female, b. 1699 Freegift Stout, b. 1693” Note: Original documents or listing in the town where they married would be preferable to this index but so far I have found only this index.

Find a Grave, Mary Stout. Note: I pointed out in the text, errors in the information at this site, but the information has since been corrected

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, Roxbury, 1630-1867 , Birth of Jediah Higgins at Orleans, MA; Jay Mack Holbrook, Holbrook Institute, Oxford MA :1985, Accessed at Ancestry.com

New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817, Jediah Higgins, 23 April 1715, Ancestry.com

New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1683-1802 ,Jediah Higgins and Mary Newbold, Ancestry.com 2011

Find A Grave, Jediah Higgins, Memorial # 85788158. Note: This Find a Grave entry has extensive information drawn from the book about Richard Higgins and numerous citations of fact.

Find a Grave, Mary Newbold Higgins, Memorial #89040425

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, Roxbury, 1630-1867 , Richard Higgins and Mary Gates (sic) Jay Mack Holbrook, Holbrook Institute, Oxford MA: 1985; Accessed at Ancestry.com

The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635, Vol II (1995) Robert Charles Anderson, pgs 928-932. The combination of The Great Migration and The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635, is on ancestry.com, but no free digital copies exist, and print versions cost from $40 per volume. The information contained here exist in Katherine Higgins biography of Richard HIggins.

U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700, Genealogical Publishing Co.; Baltimore, MD, USA; Volume Title: Third Supplement to Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700 . Accessed at ancestry.com

Find a Grave, Richard Higgins, Memorial #7864412

https://archive.org/details/richardhigginsre00higg/
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This Cornbread Pudding Use Leftovers

leftover cornbread pudding
Cornbread pudding in baking dish
Jump to Recipe

I have shared several recipes using cornmeal, because our early ancestors definitely used cornmeal frequently. No doubt the 17th and early 18th century families I am talking about recently ate cornbread–probably frequently. Did our waste-hating grandmothers make cornbread pudding? I don’t know, but it is such a simple recipe that it would not show up in cookbooks of the period.

What did they do with leftover cornbread? Or with families of 10 children maybe they had no such a thing as leftovers. But in today’s smaller families, a full pan of cornbread may not disappear during the first meal where it appears.

Leftover cornbread pudding to the rescue. My husband and I had this for breakfast and it was delicious and filling. Feel free to scatter some fruit over the top, or include bits of meat (crisp bacon, ham) in the mix. I love dishes with the flexibility that this one has. Make it your own. (And let us know how you have adapted it.)

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Cornbread Pudding

Leftover cornbread makes a delish dish for breakfast.
Course Breakfast
Keyword corn bread, leftover, breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 2
Author Vera Marie Badertscher

Ingredients

  • two pieces of cornbread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • dash salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • cinnamon or spice blend

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat eggs, add milk, salt, sugar, and salt and whisk together.
  • Butter inside of oven-proof dish, capacity 2-2 1/2 cups.
  • Break cornbread in bite-size chunks and scatter in bottom of dish.
  • Pour the milk/egg mixture over the cornbread.
  • Sprinkle spices over top.
  • Bake until you can insert a knife and there is no liquid in the center. (About 1/2 hour)

Notes

cornbread pudding

One serving of cornbread pudding

Don’t throw out that almost-stale cornbread!
You can make cornbread pudding for breakfast, or use it for dessert.
This recipe makes two servings of cornbread pudding.  It is simple to multiply the recipe to feed as many as you like–or as much as you can make with your leftover cornbread.  Baking times will depend on the size of the dish that you are using.
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