No Mumbo-Jumbo

Straight Up—Jumbles Are A Traditional, Tasty Cookie

Cookie Jumbles

The heat of August breaks with the promise of autumn come September. It’s a new season, and many new things lay on the horizon—falling leaves, the return of the school year, bake sales, and the taste for food that’s a bit heartier, and that has warming spices.

The later is found in our version of Jumbles.

Jumbles are an ancient cookie-like pastry popular since the Middle Ages. Martha Washington has directions for them in her A Booke of Cookery recipe collection, and in A Virginia Housewife (1826), Mary Randolph gave these instructions for “Jumbals”:

“Put one pound of nice sugar into two pounds of flour, add pounded spice of any kind, and pass them through a sieve; beat four eggs, pour them on with three quarters of a pound of melted butter, knead all well together, and bake them.”

This recipe contains pecans, one of the many nuts George Washington favored. He planted pecan trees, then known as “Illinois nuts,” at his Mount Vernon estate, and tradition has it that he often carried a handful of pecans in his pocket.

Spiced Pecan-Raisin Jumbles with Orange Glaze
Cookie Ingredients
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1-1⁄4 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Orange Glaze Ingredients
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon orange zest
2–3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Cookie Method
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat to incorporate.
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne into the mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the raisins and pecans, and mix well.
Drop the dough by the heaping tablespoonful approximately 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet; do not crowd the cookies. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool and repeat with the remaining dough.

Orange Glaze Method
Stir the sugar, orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice together in a medium bowl until combined. Add the additional tablespoon orange juice if needed to thin the glaze.
Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. They will keep in an airtight container for a few days or can be frozen.

Yields 6–8 dozen cookies

This recipe comes from HRM senior food and wine editor Patrick Evans-Hylton’s book Dishing Up Virginia, on sale at traditional and online booksellers. Evans-Hylton blogs at