Chocolate Drop Cookie Recipe from The Little Women Cookbook

Chocolate drops were a popular goodie in the days of Little Women. Good news: Hershey’s still makes these delightfully old-fashioned candies. And they’re terrific in cookies.

Hershey’s Chocolate Drops. Smaller than a Hershey’s Kiss, larger than an M&M — i.e., a great size for cookies!

I loved researching the recipes for The Little Women Cookbook. One of my favorite “finds” was when I read about the chocolate drops that Professor Bhaer always gave Meg’s children whenever he visited:

Demi . . . soon discovered that his sister like to play with Mr. Bhaer better than she did him,
but though hurt, he concealed his anguish, for he hadn’t the heart to insult a rival who kept a
mine of chocolate drops in his waistcoat pocket.

(In case you’ve forgotten, Mr. Bhaer is the German immigrant/language teacher whom Jo eventually marries).

I scoured 19th century cookbooks to find a recipe for chocolate drops, and I did find a few. Yet, while I started developing the recipe for today’s cooks, I thought: Wait a minute. How likely is it that the “philosophically inclined” Professor Freidrich Bhaer actually made the chocolate drops? Surely, he bought them from a candy shop, right?

From “The American Pastry Cook.” Recipes “Especially Adapted for Hotel and Steamboat Use” (Steamboats? Is it any wonder I loved researching the recipes for this book?)

So, I looked around for purchased chocolate drops, a candy that I really had never heard of. I was afraid that they’d be something obscure, something you’d have to mail-order from afar. And I didn’t want any ingredient in my book that had to be mail-ordered!

Lo and behold, I found that Hershey’s still makes these delightfully old-fashioned chocolate drops. And I’ve found them in the packaged candy aisle (not the baking aisle) of every supermarket I’ve looked for them in my midsized Midwestern city. I bet if you look, you’ll find them, too.

A little smaller than chocolate kisses, these little goodies are a little like large M&Ms, but without candy coating.

My next task was to figure out how to use these little delights in a recipe for my cookbook. I immediately thought of the famous Peanut Butter Blossoms cookies, but … that wouldn’t have been true to the era (peanut butter really wasn’t a thing during Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy’s time).

Butter cookies, however, were very popular. And that’s how I came up with my Butter Cookies with Mr. Bhaer’s Chocolate Drops recipe.

Chocolate Drop Cookies from The Little Women Cookbook

Chocolate drops make an excellent addition to butter cookies. Nothing against chocolate kisses, but I personally prefer the cookie-to-chocolate ratio of chocolate drops. I also think the flatter drops are easier to bite into than the kisses.

What happens when you don’t chill the dough long enough before baking.

I’ve made this recipe a few dozen times since I developed it last year for the book. Each time, they came out perfectly, except once: One day, when I was in a hurry to make these, I didn’t chill the dough long enough before baking. And look what happened. They cookies spread out. Oh, they tasted great, but they weren’t really the thumbprint-esque butter cookies I had in mind. So, be sure to chill the dough as recommended … unless you like a more thin, spread-out cookie. (Please try it my way first — it’s better!)

P.S.: To find out more about The Little Women Cookbook, and get a peek at some of the beautiful professional photos of the recipes (which are so much better than the ones on this page!), read this recent post on Five Favorite Photos from The Little Women Cookbook.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Drop Cookie Recipe from The Little Women Cookbook
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 dozen
 
Be sure to let the dough chill as indicated, or your cookies will spread out too thinly as they bake.
Ingredients
  • 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons [167 g]) unsalted butter, allowed to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to soften
  • ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¾ cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 dozen chocolate drops or stars
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and beat until combined. Beat in 1 cup (125 g) of the flour with the mixer, then stir in the remaining ¾ cup (95 g) flour with a wooden spoon. Gather the dough into a large ball; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  3. Shape the cookie dough into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls. Place the balls 2 inches (5 cm) apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Center a chocolate drop on each cookie, pushing it down to flatten the dough—the chocolate drop should be level with the surrounding dough.
  4. Bake the cookies until they are just starting to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. Let the cookies remain on the cookie sheets for 1 minute. Then, use a thin metal spatula to transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. To store, layer the cookies in an airtight container, separating each layer with waxed paper. Store at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

The Little Women Cookbook: Tempting Recipes from the March Sisters and Their Friends and Family, is available on Amazon.

 

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8 × = sixty four

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