Great Depression Baking: Ginger Ice Box Cookies

ginger plant, schematic illustration

Here’s a simple yet tasty recipe for Ginger Ice Box Cookies from Great Depression Recipes, a fascinating site on Great Depression cooking. These cookies contain a generous amount of molasses, which lends them a rich and spicy flavor. In fact, molasses, which was once in danger of “disappearing as an article of commerce” according to an 1897 edition of Good Housekeeping, enjoyed a comeback during the first part of the twentieth century. No longer was it used merely for distilling rum, as it was during the latter half of the nineteenth century; rather, thanks to war and economic blight, molasses appeared in all sorts of baked goods as a substitute for its more refined, and hence more expensive, relation–white sugar.

Ginger Ice Box Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs, beat well
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cup flour
1 cup nut meats

Cream sugar and shortening. Add well beaten eggs, then the molasses. Sift all dry ingredients and add to the first mixture. Add nut meats. Form into rolls and place in refrigerator to chill (overnight is best). Cut into thin slices with sharp knife and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees F.) for 12 to 15 minutes.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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