The History of Cookies and Recipes from Around the World

in May 11, 2020

Let’s get real - I have a profound and ancient love for cookies. I loved them when I was little, I loved them when I was a teen, and I love them now just as much as I did then!

Cookies are like a universal language of happiness. You may be travelling to a distant foreign country that has a culture that’s just the opposite to yours, and when you least expect, you’ll find some sort of bite-sized (or not!) deliciousness with local flavours that will make you smile once you pop it into your mouth!

YES, the world loves cookies, and I’m not talking about our traditional ones! That’s why I got curious to know more about the history of cookies, when they were supposedly baked for the first time, and what types of cookies are the staples around the world!

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It’s pretty unanimous - everyone loves cookies!

From the Sugar Association website I learned that the sugar cane was probably first domesticated by the indigenous people of New Guinea, who used to chew it raw, around the year 8000 BCE. Sugar cane cultivation practices spread through Southeast Asia, China and India via traders.

Around the year 600 CE Persia caught on sugar cultivation and processing methods. It’s is believed that the first cookies or cookie-style cakes date back to the 7th century A.D. in Persia (which is now Iran). People were already cultivating sugar and sweet cakes and pastries were already well known in the Persian empire.

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A Persian banquet of song and dance - and cookies!


The rest is history - with the expansion of the Persian empire throughout Europe, sugar cane started being grown in Sicily and Spain and the love of sweet cakes and pastries was spread (insert heart emoji!).

By the 14th century CE, you were guaranteed to find a tin of cookies at most European households. Jumbal, a cookie baked from nuts, sweetener and water was so popular to carry on journeys that people in different countries would refer to it by the same name. Talk about being popular!

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Jumbals (or jumbled) were popular because they were pretty simple to make and could easily be kept for a year


In the 17th century CE, America was introduced to a sweet doughy “koekje”, which meant wafer. The term was then Anglicized and koekje became known as COOKIE. Yum! The treat became popular after a few Dutch expatriates served a lot of it during a funeral in the year 1703.

From a funeral to FUN - cookies became an American staple that people can’t live without until this day.

Let’s check some cookies from around the world and their recipes together!

  1. Nanaimo Bars (Canada)

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Our very own no-bake piece of heaven is named after the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It consists of three layers: a wafer, nut (walnuts, almonds, or pecans), and coconut crumb base; custard icing in the middle; and a layer of chocolate ganache on top. Are you convinced yet? Try the recipe here.


  1. Bizcochitos (United States)

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New Mexico’s regional anise cookies

 A New Mexico recipe, Bizcochitos is an anise cookie made with a lot of lard! This famous Southwestern recipe was considered the best cookie recipe of 1978 by the editors of The Gourmet Cookie Book. That’s a recipe I can’t wait to try!

  1. Wedding Cookies (Mexico)

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The Mexicans call these wedding cookies Polvorones (from the word “polvo” which means dust)

 These deliciously-nutty shortbread style cookies rolled in powdered sugar as also known as Russian Tea Cakes, or Snowballs, or Viennese Crescents, and Polvorones - that’s how the Mexicans call it! ;) It’s unknown why this delicacy is present in so many cultures but they sure are delicious. Grab this recipe and try them for yourself!

  1. Brigadeiros (Brazil)

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Brigadeiros are Brazil’s most loved sweet

The name brigadeiro means “brigadier” in English and is the most popular Brazilian treat, served in every event. Traditionally cooked at home, brigadeiros are made from four simple ingredients you can find anywhere (condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate sprinkles covering the outside layer)! You won’t regret making these fudgy chocolate balls that are great paired with an espresso coffee!

  1. Alfajores (Argentina)

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The famous dulce de leche sandwich cookies

Alfajores are a soft, sweet and crumbly shortbread-like cookie sandwich filled with dulce de leche.

Sometimes they are also rolled in coconut or dipped in white or dark chocolate. They are extremely popular across Latin America but the recipe is originally from Argentina. Just like their South American counterpart (the Brazilian brigadeiro) this obsessively delicious treat is best paired with strong coffee.

  1. Polish apricot filled cookies (Poland)

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Jam filled cookies - hello!

 We call them Polish apricot filled cookies (descriptive much?) but these delicacies are known as Kolaczki in Poland. They are also popular in the Czech Republic, Russia, Austria, Denmark, and probably more places. Fluffy pastry dough and fresh apricot jam describes this treat that’s usually served during Christmas, but are good for any given time on my book! Catch the recipe here and give it a try! Great to bring back to the office when social distancing is over! ;)

  1. Butter wafers (Spain)

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Spanish Butter Wafers - a little piece of buttery heaven that crumbles in your mouth


Thin and crispy, this buttery vanilla-anise flavoured cookie crumbles in your mouth, this Spanish delicacy is traditionally paired with a cup of tea. They are easy to bake and will be perfect for watching a movie on a chilly fall afternoon with your gals. This recipe is sure to help you land perfect Spanish butter wafers.


  1. Mbatata (Malawi)

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Mbatatas are Malawi’s traditional sweet potato cookies

 This soft and cakey sweet potato cookie is not only super simple to make but also a healthy option to curb your cookie craving if you know what I mean. Malawians are considered a very warm and welcoming people and it is their tradition to shape these cookies as hearts. Slightly sweet, the simplicity and deliciousness of these cookies can be easily replicated at home and I don't know about you but I’ll definitely give this recipe a try.

  1. Chinese peanut cookies (China)

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Chinese peanut cookies are also known as a Lunar New Year treat

 These crumbly and peanutty cookie balls are called Hua sheng bing in China. They are sold at markets and usually eaten during the Lunar New Year. With simple ingredients found in any grocery store are sure to captivate the peanut butter lovers. This family recipe is so simple you will not resist baking these treats at home!

  1. Mango melting moments (Australia)

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Little bites of tropical heaven


Traditionally the classic Australian Melting Moments are soft and delicate cookies sandwiching a simple buttercream flavoured with some lemon juice and zest. However, it is very common to add other fruits to the recipe since fresh fruits are abundant in Australia. The mango flavoured melting moment cookie is a favourite at Christmas. It’s Summertime at Christmas, which means it’s mango season in Australia - lucky lads! If you can find fresh mangoes I would totally give this recipe a try!

I hope you enjoyed taking this tour of the cookie world with us and that you try some of the recipes I shared here!

With information from:

Written by Daniela Rodrigues @ Ingols Digital


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