Thursday, September 22, 2022

Chocolate Frosted Drops: or, Revisiting recipes I forgot how much I like

 Today on A Book of Cookrye, we are fulfilling household requests. Someone wanted chocolate cookies with chocolate icing. I was asked if I have a recipe for that. And do I ever! Today, we are going back to one of my favorite books I have gotten from my recreational thrift-shopping grandmother:

Chocolate Drops
½ c mixed shortening and butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 egg
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
¾ c buttermilk or sour milk*
1 tsp vanilla
1¾ c flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 c chopped pecans or other nuts (if desired)

Mix shortening and sugar, beating well. Add egg and chocolate, mixing thoughly. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla (the dough will look curdled but it's fine). Blend the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add them to the chocolate. Mix in the nuts if desired.
Chill the dough for at least one hour.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 400°. Grease a baking sheet (we recommend first lining it with paper or foil, then greasing it). Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto the pan, about two inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies spring back when lightly pressed in the center. When the cookies are cooled, make the frosting.

1½ tsp butter
1½ oz unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp + ¾ tsp warm water
1½ c sifted powdered sugar

Mix butter, chocolate, and warm water over a double boiler. Or, put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring well after each interval.
Beat in the powdered sugar. Add water a little at a time if the icing seizes up. Spread over the cookies. If the icing gets too firm, put it back over the double boiler and stir it until it softens again. Or, microwave it for 5 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval.

*In a pinch, you can dilute sour cream with water until it's about the right thickness.

Mrs. Clinton Tweedy; Turtle Lake, North Dakota (McLean County Fair blue ribbon winner); Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts; 1968

I used to make these cookies a lot. For a while, I brought them to nearly every party or gathering where I was asked to bring food. I also made them at home when I felt like the day needed a bit more chocolate in it. You can see a batch of Chocolate Drops in this picture of me studying for finals. I partially wanted the chocolate while I was going over notes, but mostly I just wanted to put off facing all the math that's more Greek letters than numbers.

What an innocent yet exhausting time!

Although I didn't have a stand mixer with me when I made these cookies so often I nearly memorized the recipe, today we are doing our cookies the electric way! It feels unexpectedly strange to revisit one's childhood recipes with the power tools you didn't have.

When we got to the part where you add the buttermilk to the rest of the cookie dough, I remembered how the first time I made these cookies, I saw how hopelessly curdled the dough looked and threw it all down the food disposal so I could start over. I still feel bad about sending all those perfectly good ingredients to the city water treatment plant.

Believe it or not, this is fine.

Since I haven't made Chocolate Drops in such a long time, I forgot how thin and runny the cookie dough is before refrigerating it. It looks more like cake batter than cookies (and would probably make very nice bar cookies if you just poured it into a square pan and baked it). 

This brings us to the one thing I don't like about the original recipe: it says to heat up the oven right at the beginning of the instructions-- and then tells us to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. I don't think Mrs. Clinton Tweedy ran an empty oven for an entire hour while her cookie dough refrigerated. I think the editors of Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts automatically put the oven temperature at the beginning of every recipe. Perhaps the book editors were overwhelmed with recipes and did not read this one thoroughly enough to see that the cookie dough must wait an hour before baking. 

But regardless of whether you've been heating the house with your oven the entire time your dough was getting cold, refrigeration really does change this from cake batter to cookie dough.

When you bake them, the refrigeration time makes a lot of difference in how flat your cookies are. I returned the dough to the refrigerator between batches lest it return to its cake batter state, meaning that the last batch of cookies got an extra half hour of chilling time. This made the dough a lot firmer and almost crumbly by the time we baked the last of it. As you can see, the first cookies spread out thinner and came out flatter than the last ones.

First batch on the left, last batch on the right. As you can see, the last cookies don't even have that crispy ring around the edges there the dough melted a bit.

You should also know that this recipe makes a lot of cookies. This is how many cookies we had after people kept coming into the kitchen and nipping cookies off of the plates while I waited for them to cool down.

And so, it was at last time to crown the cookies with icing! I used to do the icing in a double boiler like the recipe says to, but I've since discovered that the microwave is perfect for things like this. So long as you remember to take the bowl out of the microwave and give it a good stir every ten or so seconds, you absolutely never have to worry about anything getting scorched. The icing came out exactly as it does on the stovetop. At first it looked unfortunate:

But with a bit more careful microwaving, the icing looked creamy and perfect.

My only problem with the recipe (which I don't remember ever having in the past) is that the icing doesn't quite cover all the cookies. I had to make another half batch of it after I ran out. (I have adjusted the amounts in the typed recipe at the top of this page.) But the icing is pretty quick to throw together, so I wasn't too terribly annoyed. I did, however, borrow my friend's typewriter to make a correction to the recipe card:

Once you have enough icing, these cookies are absolutely delicious. When I ate one, I was surprised I let this recipe go unmade for so long. Everyone liked them. The cookies are lovely and light, and the icing is almost-but-not-quite fudgy. In the most disarming way, they're not overwhelmingly rich and dark.


  1. These kind of remind me of Man-Sized Double Chocolate Cookies we made when I was a kid. I thought I might have the recipe posted, and I do! It's at if you ever want to compare those to these. (I seem to remember that the icing was pretty skimpy on that recipe too. And full disclosure-- we used butter instead of margarine and we rarely had baking chocolate, so we would substitute three tablespoons cocoa powder and an extra tablespoon of butter for every ounce of chocolate.)

    1. I thought that we had lost the Man-Sized Double Chocolate Cookies recipe. Maybe it was a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie I was thinking of that was lost to time.
      I thought of the comments about curdled looking batter last night as I was making a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake as payment for help with some home improvement projects. I knew that it would not melt into a smooth batter in the oven, and finally decided that the tiny flecks of cream cheese were just going to be part of the texture of the pie and folded in the cool whip anyway. It should still taste good and didn't look too bad after I was done.

    2. I just told everyone we have another recipe that must be evaluated for writing purposes. No one was dismayed at hearing the recipe name.