If I said “Ox Tongue” cookies, would you know what I’m talking about? Maybe “Cow Tongue” or “Spice Tongue” cookies? I feel like these all might be the secret passwords to a quiet PA Dutch baking club.
As it turns out, Ox Tongue Cookies are a sweet and spicy PA Dutch recipe with deep roots. I recently connected with my summer kitchen cooking friend, Terry Berger for a podcast episode. Terry is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker by day and a scratch cook by night and on the weekends. We first met at this year’s Kutztown Folk Festival’s Summer Kitchen, where he helped organize and prepare daily meals to educate festival attendees about traditional PA Dutch recipes. He has a special love of cast iron stoves, which are used at the Festival.
Terry enjoys sharing recipes and stories that have significance and history. He often demonstrates cooking at regional cultural events; most recently he took part in “Christmas on the Farm,” held at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University (mark your calendar for the 2017 event).
Ox Tongue Cookies, shared from Terry’s family’s recipe box, was prepared decades ago as a teaching tool for children, to remind them who first met the baby Jesus. It wasn’t wise men and shepherds, but the ox and lamb who welcomed His birth in the stable.
You can continue the tradition and use these cookies as a teaching tool …or you can tease your friends by packaging them in a beautifully ornate gift box, clearly labeled “Ox Tongue Cookies” (with no further explanation), and enjoy their reaction. These unique treats are also a great way to show your thanks during the holiday season – the recipe makes so many cookies, you’ll have plenty to share with your favorite barista, waitress, store clerk, etcetera!
ox tongue cookies
This recipe is easily doubled, and you can prepare it by hand or use a stand mixer (Terry mixes his cookies by hand). For Step 5, I adjusted Terry’s method and found it easier to use a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop to scoop out about 8 pieces at a time and roll them in batches.
: Terry Berger for Phoebe's Pure Food
Serves: 80 cookies
- /2 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1-1/2 cup Crisco, lard or butter
- 2 cups sugar, plus ⅓ cup for rolling
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 to 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the molasses, Crisco, sugar and eggs.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Combine thoroughly but don’t over-mix.
- Fill a small bowl with the ⅓ cup sugar. Form two tablespoons of dough into a short log, about 3” long, and roll in the sugar.
- Place the logs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cookies will spread.
- Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.