A cookie can be any of various hand-held, flour-based sweet cakeseither crisp or soft. The word cookie comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning "little cake." The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to 7th-century Persia, one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. There are six basic cookie styles, any of which can range from tender-crisp to soft. A drop cookie is made by dropping spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet. Bar cookies are created when a batter or soft dough is spooned into a shallow pan, then baked, cooled and cut into bars. Hand-formed (or molded) cookies are made by shaping dough by hand into small balls, logs, crescents and other shapes. Pressed cookies are formed by pressing dough through a cookie press (or pastry bag) to form fancy shapes and designs. Refrigerator (or icebox) cookies are made by shaping the dough into a log, which is refrigerated until firm, then sliced and baked. Rolled cookies begin by using a rolling pin to roll the dough out flat; then it is cut into decorative shapes with cookie cutters or a pointed knife. Other cookies, such as the German springerle, are formed by imprinting designs on the dough, either by rolling a special decoratively carved rolling pin over it or by pressing the dough into a carved cookie mold. In England, cookies are called biscuits; in Spain they're galletas; Germans call them keks; in Italy they're biscotti and so on.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.