Grandma’s Ginger Crackers

Louisa Macculloch (1785-1863) is most likely the grandmother referred to in this recipe dated, February 2, 1849. It was recorded by GMM (George Macculloch Miller), one of George and Louisa’s grandsons.

In the handwritten cookbook, the terms cookie or cracker are used interchangeably to describe the well-loved American dessert. The term biscuit, which dates to the 14th century, was and is still used in Great Britain to describe the same dessert. Biscuit was not used at all in Louisa’s recipes.

Since there are no instructions in the original recipe about how thin to roll out the cookie dough, we might never know if Grandma’s Ginger Crackers were very thin and crisp or thick and chewy, as the updated and adapted recipe below creates.

Original Recipe: Grandma’s Ginger Crackers

3 pound of flour

1   “        “   butter

1   “        “   sugar

1  pint    “  molasses

1  gill      “  cream

1 large nutmeg

2 ounces of ginger

1 teaspoon full of pearlash

Mix the spices with the flour. Then pour in the melted butter with the sugar and molasses. Mix the pearlash with the cream.

Adapted Recipe: Grandma’s Ginger Crackers

5 cups of flour

2 sticks of butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup molasses

4 tablespoons heavy cream

½ nutmeg (1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg)

1 tablespoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift spices and flour.  In separate small bowl mix baking soda with heavy cream. Cream softened butter and slowly add sugar to combine.  Add molasses. Add heavy cream. In thirds, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  If using a stand mixer and the amount of dough is too much, you can add the final third of flour while hand kneading the cookie dough. Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thickness and use cookie cutter.  Bake 10 minutes.  Let cool on baking rack.  Makes 4 dozen cookies.


This similar recipe from the archives of the Rhode Island Historical Society was tested and adapted recently:

Topic: Munchie Monday
Age / Level: 1, Primary, Elementary, Life Long Learner