As a kid, I was a great one for projects. Homemade play-dough. Cookies painted with egg/food-coloring paint. Dollhouse furniture. Leaves pressed between waxed paper. I was never very good at any of these, and my record on finishing what I started was less than stellar. So maybe I should clarify that I was a great one for the idea of projects. I liked thinking about them, planning them, more than actually doing them. What patient parents I have! At some point – I was maybe eight or nine – we had a book full of project ideas. It has long since disappeared, but I seem to remember that it had something to do with a World’s Fair or the Olympics. It was a guide book for kids like me, with ideas and charts and drawings. All sorts of cool stuff you could actually do at home! On your own! This book gave me the ill-fated idea for a science fair project to hatch chicks. In a shoe box. With a light bulb. My father had to track down fertilized eggs and buy some for me and we built a sort of Easy-Bake oven incubator. This was not a successful experiment. It resulted in no baby chickens. And unhatched eggs left under a hot bulb do not smell good. My interest in the grand project waned somewhat after that experience.
But tucked away somewhere in that book, between the potato battery and Indian-basket weaving, was this recipe for Clove Cookies. And though my general project-completion record was low, I have always loved a good recipe. And this one is easy and makes a darn good cookie. I copied that recipe in my wobbly handwriting onto one of my earliest index recipe cards, re-copied years later onto a designed recipe card with pictures and “from the kitchen of…” at the top. Glued that card into a binder. Recopied it into a recipe-keeper notebook I was given as a Christmas present, cut out that page to put in a vinyl page protector in binder. As you can tell, my inability to see a project through also applies to my many and varied attempts to decide on a pre-computer recipe organizing system. But this recipe has stayed with me, moved from format to format.
The use of cloves in a cookie may smack seriously of the 1970s origin of this recipe, but boy is it good. These cookies are warm and spicy and scream autumn leaves and crackling fires. I come back to these cookies whenever I need something homey and comforting and happy. They start out with a pleasant, soft, slightly chewy center, but after a day or so turn into a lovely, crunchy wafer. The taste of cloves remains central, but mellows. These cookies will please you every time you open the tin. And they are not a project at all.
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Stir the melted butter into the sugar in a large bowl until well blended. It will be a mixture like very wet sand. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the egg until smooth and incorporated.
In another bowl, stir together the flour and cloves with a fork to distribute the cloves evenly and break up any clumps. Stir the flour into the butter-sugar mixture until thoroughly blended. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm it up.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. When the cookie dough is firm, scoop it out in one teaspoon mounds onto the cookie sheet, spacing them an inch apart. I use a small cookie scoop for this. Press down lightly on the cookies, then bake for 7 – 9 minutes, until the cookies have spread, the edges are golden brown and the centers soft. Leave to cool on the tray for one minute, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Elizabeth Greer says
I’m not opposed to cloves but could you substitute cinnamon and use as a tea cookie? Do you think the cloves make a difference if they are from one of those spice grinders? would you use less?
The Runaway Spoon says
I think you could use cinnamon, but I don’t know how much you’d want to use. The cloves are an unusual and lovely flavor and great with tea. If you use clove buds from a spice grinder, make sure they are very finely ground, as pieces of clove would be very unpleasant! I would start with slightly less of the fresh ground. I get great ground cloves from Penzey’s in a small jar, and it is a great spice to have around in winter.
Ivy Manning says
Oh man. I love cloves! In ham, in cigarettes (during my goth stage), and especially in desserts…baklava! When I have my kitchen put back together, this is going to the top of the list. Can’t wait for the clovy smell! Thanks for posting this!
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says
These sound great! Just found your site. I’m not to far, in Birmingham
Melanie Bear says
Clove cookies! It’s my first time to hear about that. I should try this one. It really made me curious. LOl.
One time my daughter (probably at age 6 or 7) thought it would be fun to make up her own recipe for cookies. She came up with 1 stick butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp cloves. (1 of everything!) It’s essentially this recipe (minus the vanilla), and I was a little nervous about it because of the large amount of fat compared to the small amount of flour. But we tried it anyway and were so delighted with the results! Imagine my excitement when I discovered that she’d come up with a “real” recipe all on her own! How fun!
Nana Karen says
I used to stop at a little bakery nearby ad once in while they had what I used to call Grown-Up Cookies. They had cloves in them. I love the taste and the smell of cloves. When they were avail- able,I’d put a couple pounds in the freezer because you never knew when you’d see them again. Then one day the bakery closed without notice! This the first recipe that I have found that sounds like those cookies. They used to pipe them in a gentle S shape. I can’t wait to try them.Thanks!
I’ve been looking for this recipe for over 20 years for my daughter, she made these as a kid..can’t find the cookbook they were in..Just emailed this to her. They really look like the ones she loves..she adds extra cloves, because cloves are her fav spice..thanks so much..
Linda Maxey says
I knew I’d find something like this! Will try the recipe!
Grace…I love your story!
This recipe was originally published in the Sunset Cookies book. April 1985. I have the cookbook and am looking at the recipe. 🙂