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Monkey Face Cookies

This happens to be one of our favourite cookies and I can't believe I have never showed it to you before today!  I went to bake them this morning, and was looking for the recipe in my online recipe file, only to  discover that it wasn't there, which meant I had never baked them for the blog.  I had to rifle through my big blue binder for the recipe, which was so not a problem, because I love rifling through my big blue binder!

This is a very old recipe which has a story attached to it.  I love old recipes, and I especially love old recipes with stories attached! Don't you???  Apparently the original recipe was found pasted on a piece of paper pasted into the drawer of an old table, hand written in fading ink, in an old fashioned script . . . "For Ella."  I don't know how true the story is, or who Ella was, but the story certainly has its charm, and I never fail to think about Ella and her charms whenever I bake them.  She must have been very special indeed to have someone want to bake these cookies for her!!

Why are they called Monkey Face Cookies?  Because of the raisins which you apply to the tops of them prior to baking.  Two eyes and a mouth, which settle themselves into cute little droll expressions during baking, each one seeming to say something different!

Some looking surprised  . . . others sad . . .  some angry, and still others very nonchalant . . . or even mischevious . . . .  kind of like monkeys!

Children love them.  Partly because of the name, and partly becaus they are delicious!  Its fun to pick the raisins off and eat them separately . . . its fun to eat them all together.  Its just fun to eat them!

They go down really well with an ice cold glass of milk, be you a child or a grown up!  Molasses cookies always taste wonderful with cold milk.  That is my considered opinion at any rate!

See that one with the little sticky brown sugar nugget in it?  I call dibs on that one!  Its mine! Yum!  Slightly chewy, and lightly spiced, these Monkey Face Cookies are good old fashioned pleasers.  There's no denying it!

*Monkey Face Cookies*
Makes about 4 dozen 

Children love these. The name comes from the funny expressions that the raisins make on the cookies after they are baked. This is a very old recipe. 

110g of white vegetable shortening (1/2 cup, Crisco or in the UK Trex)
200g soft light brown sugar (1 cup, packed)
120ml molasses (1/2 cup)
120ml sour milk (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vinegar
350g plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
raisins for decorating (a large handful)

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.

Cream together the shortening, brown sugar and molasses until light and creamy. Beat in the milk and vinegar. Sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.Stir this into the creamed mixture, mixing it in thoroughly. Drop by heaped teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 1/2 inches in between each to allow for spreading. Place 3 raisins on each for eyes and mouth.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until set. Let sit on the baking sheets for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Oh this one does look rather sad doesn't he?  I think I will gobble him up and put him out of his misery.  Bon Appetit!

Note - there are no eggs in this recipe, don't worry I have not left them out. The recipe is exactly as written.

Marie Rayner
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  1. I never heard of these cookies before Marie! It made me laugh just to say the name of them.
    I would put craisins or dried cherries in them.. I'm fussy. Lol.
    Your big blue binder really intrigues me!

    1. Those would also be tasty Jan! My Big Blue Binder is a binder I have been lugging all over the world, collecting recipes in since I was a girl. I did make a print copy once upon a time. My first foray into self publishing. Here is the link:

  2. these sound so good and I love the story,, the raisins make it look like a monkey face for sure!!!

    1. Thanks Laurie! Kids love these. So do grownups! xo

  3. Cute monkeys Marie:) I know they are good:)

  4. Isn't the normal way to make sour milk by adding regular milk to vinegar? Is the vinegar listed in the recipe in addition to that? Or should it be 1 t. vinegar plus as much regular milk as needed to make 1/2 c. total?

    1. I know what you are saying and yes, that is how you make sour milk when you don’t have milk that is sour already. This is a vintage recipe and it calls for 1/2 cup of already sour milk plus an additional 1 tsp of vinegar. I don’t know the reason for this. Only that it does.

  5. I went ahead and made them with the additional vinegar (so 1/2 T. to sour the milk and then 1 t. added), and they came out wonderfully. My own little monkeys will love these monkeys!

    1. Very Pleased they were enjoyed! Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know! xo

  6. Hey Marie!
    Your cookies look really good and sound delicious.
    I have baked them with my mom and they are actually very nice.
    I love it that there is a story behind the receipt and that they look like little monkeys with different faces on it with the raisins.
    This is a receipt for young and old so everybody can eat them en they are delicious.
    The cookies are really soft and grainy and I love it.
    I'm going to bake them more and wil give it to the rest of the family.
    Thanks for this great receipt!

    Best regards

    1. Thanks very much for your lovely comment Alejandro! Bless! xo

  7. Hey Marie
    Your cookies look really nice and sound delicious.
    I have baked them with my mother and they really are tasteful.
    I love it that there is a story behind your receipt and the shape of the cookies are really funny.
    All the different kind of faces that they have because of the raisins is very cool.
    I wil bake them more en give them to my family so they can enjoy them to because I really loved them!
    I hope you will give more receipts like this because I can't get enough of them.

    Best regards

    1. Thanks very much for your lovely comment Alejandro! I am so pleased that you baked them and your family enjoyed! You made me happy to read this! xo

  8. Marie I saved this recipe. The cookies sound so good. Cute too.
    I tried to use your email I found in your “about me” section but was told it was incorrect. I wanted to give you this link for Roly Poly using Nutiva products, Coconut Oil and such. I thought it may be something you can eat with Diabetes. I couldn’t find your post about cooking with Diabetes but I know I saw it.
    Here is the link:

    1. Thanks Elaine. The e-mail address is correct if you put an @ for the at and a . for the dot. I did it that way so robots don't contact me continuously! Sorry about that! xo


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