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We dodged a bullet yesterday. We had just set out for a doctor’s appointment in NYC, three hours away. Suzi checked her phone and saw we were to go to the Westside Broadway office, but we had talked about the Eastside office on York. I wanted York because a block away is our favorite Indian restaurant. Suzi just wanted to go to the right place.

Suzi called the doctor. Turns out she really didn’t have an appointment. At all. At either place. So, we turned around after 10 miles and came home. Then we turned on TV and saw that 6 inches of rain has caused a state of emergency in NYC. Flooding of streets and subways. And certainly underground parking garages.

Having dodged that bullet, and it being a very rainy day, I decided to go to our basement and just browse our cookbook collection. It’s big. Over 5,000 cookbooks arranged on metal shelves like a library. Well, it is a library.

I saw an old friend. Chocolate Cookery by Mabel Hoffman from 1978. Now, “cookery” is a British term but Mabel was born in Virginia. Not London. Fifty years ago she was a most prominent cookbook author, producing over 30 cookbooks.

Leafing through Chocolate Cookery is an experience. Compared to contemporary cookbooks, the recipes here are short and simple and delicious. This was a go-to cookbook for me forty years ago. For some reason, it went on a shelf and I had forgotten how lovely the recipes are.

This cookie was, is, a favorite. My very favorite back then. A soft, mellow chocolate cookie that is the epitome of satisfaction. Suzi was kind enough to bake a batch for me. Of course, I chose to adorn the cookies with a little frosting, but you can skip that.

Suzi added a touch to some of the cookies, slipping in chocolate chips to half the batch. Me? I am a purist and love adding only the nuts.

If you make this cookie, you’ll always remember it. And you probably won’t go decades before making it a second time.

Oh, yes. That book cover. You can see that fifty years ago cookbooks cost less than they do now.

Sour Cream Cookies

Yield: about 48 cookies


  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ⅔ cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1-⅓ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cup dairy sour cream
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped nuts


Grease cookie sheets; set aside. Melt chocolate; set aside. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a large mixer bowl, cream butter or margarine. Gradually beat in sugar, creaming well. Add vanilla and egg, beating until fluffy. Stir in melted chocolate, then sour cream. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until well-mixed. Stir in nuts.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 8 minutes. Cool slightly before placing on wire racks.

If you want to frost them, as I did, just use 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a splash of heavy cream. Whisk to spreading consistency, adding more cream or sugar to get the balance you need.

Source: Chocolate Cookery by Mable Hoffman [1978]