Juneteenth & Joe Froggers Recipe

Today, in honor of Juneteenth we're giving away cookies.
Juneteenth is commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation because that executive order had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to there to enforce it. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to overcome resistance.
Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. You can learn more about Juneteenth here.

So why are we giving away cookies? Well, they're not just any cookies, we're giving away Joe Froggers cookies. These cookies originated in Marblehead, Massachusetts in in the late 18th century. The recipe is attributed to, and named after Joseph Brown, a free African American man, who served in the Revolutionary war. Brown, and his wife Lucretia (who should probably be the one who gets credit for the recipe...), operated a tavern, next to a frog pond.  Inside, they served spirits and enormous salad-plate sized cookies flavored with molasses, rum, and spices, nicknamed “Joe’s Froggers” as an ode to the large frogs living in the pond. Since the molasses and rum helped them stay soft and chewy, they were extremely popular not only with local residents, but with sailors heading out to sea.

So...we're celebrating with cookies.

For a more detailed history on the Browns and their place in history check out this post from the Smithsonian.

For the Joe Froggers recipe read below.

Total Time: 40
Yield: 4 dozen

What you'll need:

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 cup unsulphured dark molasses
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons dark rum, such as Gosling's
  • 3 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened, plus more for baking sheets
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

How you'll do it:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together hot water, molasses and rum. In a second bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour with the baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and stir until evenly mixed. Add half the molasses mixture and beat to combine (stop occasionally to scrape down the sides). Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the remaining molasses mixture. Add the remaining third of the flour mixture and beat to combine. If dough seems too loose, add the extra 1/2 cup flour.
  4. Divide the dough into two balls, cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375° and grease two baking sheets or line with parchment.
  6. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness and use a floured 2-inch cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut the dough into rounds.
  7. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. 
  8. Bake the cookies until they have set but still seem soft in the middle, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.