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Warm up with a Spice Cookie

Photo by Patrick Evans-Hylton
Photo by Patrick Evans-Hylton

It’s really, really, miserably cold in much of the country right now. If you’re savoring the last of the holiday vacation in your slippers and PJs, why not sneak in one more round of baking? These orange-glazed jumble cookies hit the spot with a warm drink and a good book.
This guest post was written by Patrick Evans-Hylton, a Norfolk, Va.-based chef, food writer, and culinary historian. He blogs at www.PatrickEvansHylton.com 
The spicy cookies known as “jumbles” have a long history in the American South. A popular baked good with travelers, jumbles are thought to have made their way to this country on ocean passages from England to Virginia in the late 17th or early 18th century.
By the mid-to-late 1700s, they became a part of the American diet. Martha Washington included a recipe for jumbles in her collection, A Booke of Cookery.
In The Virginia Housewife (1826), Mary Randolph gave these instructions for “Jumbals”:
“Put one pound of nice sugar into two pounds of flour, add pounded spice of any kind, and pass them through a sieve; beat four eggs, pour them on with three quarters of a pound of melted butter, knead all well together, and bake them.”
This recipe from my book, Dishing Up Virginia (Storey, 2013), contains pecans, one of the many nuts George Washington favored. He planted pecan trees—then known as “Illinois nuts”—at his Mount Vernon estate and legend has it that he often carried a handful of pecans in his pocket.
Yields 6–8 dozen small cookies
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1-1⁄4 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon orange zest
2–3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat to incorporate.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne into the mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the raisins and pecans, and mix well.
Drop the dough by the heaping tablespoonful approximately 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet; do not crowd the cookies. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool and repeat with the remaining dough.
Orange Glaze
Stir the sugar, orange zest, and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice together in a medium bowl until combined. Add the additional tablespoon orange juice if needed to thin the glaze.
Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. They will keep in an airtight container for a few days or can be frozen.
 –Sara Camp Arnold, Southern Foodway’s Alliance.org

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