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Wartime Ration Cookies

The classic chocolate chip done with an interesting vintage twist.

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WWII wasn’t just felt by the soldiers on the beaches of Europe or depths of the Pacific Islands, it was felt back on American soil, where people — many in the absence of their drafted loved ones — adapted life to fuel the US military machine. People took up unoccupied manufacturing jobs and adhered to strict rationing of basic staples. And while government-backed food manufacturing fed soldiers through military rations, this food did not taste like actual food. Outside of cigarettes and the occasional chocolate bar, soldiers longed for a taste of home, even if it wasn’t a hundred percent like the way it used to be. A box of these Wartime Ration Cookies would’ve been a mental reprieve from the food-like substances of military rations. These cookies are a taste in time that really embody the feeling of home with a caramelized sweetness and a slightly soft, tender crumb.

Wartime Ration Cookies were a redesign of the classic chocolate chip cookie, minus the all-important sugars. Sugar was the first food to be rationed in 1941 and the last food to be removed from the ration list in 1947, meaning that a sugary treat wasn’t so easy to bake. Nestle, the manufacturer of the Toll House chocolate bars, contrived a sugar-less workaround for their famous chocolate chip cookie that they bought (supposedly for one dollar) from Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1939.

This version is an interesting twist, swapping out the usual butter for shortening. The recipe then calls for maple syrup and honey as substitutes for brown sugar and granulated sugar.

After mixing the dry ingredients together in one bowl, go about dealing with the wet ingredients. Here, the shortening, honey, and maple sugar have a light, fluffy texture after being beaten for two to three minutes.

As you beat in the eggs, it’ll look grainy and separated, but don’t worry!

Once you add in all of the dry ingredients, the dough gets a smooth, silky texture.

Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. This dough will look very soft.

Chilling the dough doesn’t firm the dough up, so you can cook the cookies right away.

Use a large teaspoon to portion out the dough. When setting the dough on the prepared trays, make sure to give these cookies plenty of space to spread.

These cookies are quite different from your average chocolate chip cookie.

They’re less sweet, with a softer, cakier texture that melts in your mouth almost like a shortbread or meltaway cookie.

These ration cookies are a nice reprieve against the commonly cloyingly sweet desserts of today. Since they’re not so sweet, they work great as a partner to some ice cream or a sandwiching of buttercream frosting. Whichever way you eat these cookies, you will enjoy every bite!

Yield(s): 30 to 40 small cookies

15m prep time

15m cook time

Rated 4.6 out of 5
Rated by 56 reviewers

Allergens: Nuts, Gluten

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  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup shortening, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 14 ounces chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk flour, salt, and baking soda, set aside.
  3. In another bowl beat shortening until soft and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add in honey and maple syrup until incorporated, another 2 minutes.
  5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add in vanilla.
  6. Gradually add the dry-ingredients until fully combined. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips. This dough will look very soft.
  7. Drop large teaspoon-sized portions of dough onto the trays, allowing for 2-inches of space between each cookie (the cookies will spread).
  8. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 to 9 minutes, before transfering to a wire rack or plate. These cookies are soft, so don’t try to remove them from the pan too early.
  9. Eat warm or store cooled cookies in a plastic container. These cookies will last 3 to 5 days at room temperature or 7 days refrigerated.

Recipe adapted from History In The Kitchen.