Mystery Cookies: A Recipe

I made mystery cookies for the reading tonight at Bay City Arts Center. Yumm. Chewy-crisp-carmelly, and you can eat just one. Well, maybe you can. I can’t. To sample them, show up tonight at the BCAC to hear me read from Looking Through Water and Tricia Gates Arciga read from her memoir, Jesus Loves Women. Both books, though different genres, explore the mystery of a girl/woman coming to term with her spiritual gifts. So I made mystery cookies. Here’s the recipe:

Market Mystery Cookies


The Oregonian columnist who published this recipe in the Nineties wrote, “The originator of the recipe was an elderly woman who supported herself baking & selling these cookies at the Lancaster County Farmers Market in Wayne, PA. Tiny, less than bite-size, these cookies were sold by weight, not by the dozen. I’ve watched grown men & children of all ages eat Market Mystery Cookies so fast both hands blurred.”

makes about 200 tiny cookies, a little more than a pound.
This recipe may be doubled, but no more.

1/2 c. butter (1 cube)
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked.
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in top of double boiler over simmering water. Stir in sugar until lump-free & smooth.

Stir in oatmeal, then egg & cook dough, uncovered, for 1 hour over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally.

Remove top of double boiler from heat, add vanilla & stir. Let dough stand at room temperature 1 hour to firm. (Dough is quite runny when hot.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover several cookie sheets with foil and spray liberally with Pam. Drop dough by level 1/4 teaspoonfuls [seriously! They have to be that small!] 1/2-inch apart onto cookie sheets. Once you determine how much ¼ tsp. is, you can use the tip of a butter knife to dip that much out, and use buttered fingers to push it onto the foil. Don’t flatten.

Bake 7 minutes or until well-browned. Turn cookie sheet once during baking. Cool to lukewarm, 5-10 minutes, when cookies will peel easily from foil. Use a butter knife if one is sticky. Finish cooling in single layer on baking sheet. Store in tightly covered container.

If too-cold cookies stick, return to the oven briefly to reheat to barely lukewarm.


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