Today’s recipe comes from the 1930 edition of New Delineator Recipes, produced by the Butterick Publishing Company. If you sew, you may recognize the Butterick name. The company is best known for its sewing patterns, still available for purchase at your local craft store. In the late nineteenth century, the company started The Delineator, a fashion magazine to promote patterns. While The Delineator devoted most of its space to fashion, it also included recipes, crafts, gardening tips, book reviews, and other items that might be of interest to fashionable women.
New Delineator Recipes includes ten “exclusive” recipes by food editor Ann Batchelder, but the rest were probably previously printed The Delineator.
The recipe for Kornettes in the cookie section caught my eye. I’d never run across a cookie made with popcorn. Curious about the recipe’s origin, I started searching other cookbooks. As far as I can tell, Kornettes first appeared in the 1906 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer. The Boston Cooking School was founded in 1879. After the publication of her cookbook in 1896, Farmer became the best-known instructor at the school. The Boston-Cooking School Cookbook has gone through thirteen editions, and it is still in print.
Farmer’s version of Kornettes varies slightly from the New Delineator version. She calls for a cup of finely chopped popcorn, and she does not specify the type of sugar. Her version also has a fancier finish. She instructs cooks to use a wet knife to shape the cookies and to decorate the tops with candied cherries and chopped blanched almonds.
Kornettes also appear in two World War I era cookbooks: Mary L. Wade’s The Book of Corn Cookery from 1917 and Conservation Recipes Compiled by the Mobilized Women’s Organizations of Berkeley from 1918. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, supplying European allies with grain became a top priority. President Woodrow Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to oversee the United States Food Administration, created by executive order on August 10, 1917. Grain was vital for the war effort, and one of the administration’s major advertising campaigns focus on encouraging Americans to use less wheat and more corn. As Graham Lusk, chair of physiology at Cornell University Medical College and one of American’s leading nutrition authorities explained, “Eat corn bread. It saved our New England ancestors from starvation. It we eat it, we can send wheat to France.”
It’s not surprising that Kornettes make an appearance in these World War I cookbooks. They are simple to make and require no flour. They worked equally well for cooks conserving wheat in World War I, and for cooks who needed a simple dessert during the Depression
I followed the New Delineator recipe, although I added a full cup of popcorn as called for in the Fannie Farmer original. The batter smelled delicious, like caramel corn. The final cookies were chewy, not unlike other meringue-based cookies. The popcorn flavor was not as pronounced as I’d hoped, but they were still tasty.