Ammonia Cookies

As weird as it may seem, these cookies are made with a type of ammonia that is intended for baking. It was used for leavening in the days before baking soda or baking powder. The cookies have a light lemony flavor because of the lemon oil, but when they’re baking your house will honestly smell like you’re cleaning the floor.

A great aunt from West Virginia used to make these every year and mail them to us in a big box lined with aluminum foil and waxed paper. I can vividly remember the sight and smell of those boxes, and the distinctive flavor of the cookies. They’re thick, much like shortbread, and as pale yellow as cream. Absolutely luscious. If you’ve never had them, it’s worth a try if for no other reason than for the novelty.

Ammonia Cookies
1 c milk
1/2 oz ammonium carbonate
1/2 c butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 oz oil of lemon, or 1 oz lemon extract
5 c sifted flour

  1. Put the milk in a small bowl, sprinkle the ammonium carbonate over the top, stir, and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring several times.
  2. Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add the egg, lemon flavoring, and the milk mixture and stir together.
  4. Add the flour and stir until all ingredients are well blended. Chill.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4” and cut into 2” squares.
  6. Place the squares on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
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