Perhaps one reason this simple cookie became such a favorite was because the ingredients could usually be found in any home's kitchen: flour, sugar, lard (or shortening), eggs, buttermilk (or regular milk) and vanilla extract.
The first change I noticed many years ago was when one of my sisters shared a recipe for drop teacakes. I had never thought of dropping the dough because the traditional cookie dough is rather firm and best rolled and cut. There is no milk in this recipe and the shortening is replaced with oil. The flavor is similar to the basic teacake but the cookies are a little lighter in texture than the original.
Later, a friend shared her recipe for teacakes, which are extra tender, crisp and delicious. To me, these seem more like one of the best sugar cookies I have ever eaten. I experimented with this idea and decided to call them "snaps," which seemed to fit the texture.
After making several different versions of snaps, the following lemon almond combination became my favorite. For this one, I substituted ground almonds for part of the flour called for in the basic recipe and added pure lemon extract. The result -- a delight in every bite.
For chocolate snaps, make the following changes to the lemon almond recipe. Of course, omit the almonds and increase the flour to 4 cups. Add 1/4 cup of cocoa to the flour. Sometimes, I will stir in a few finely chopped walnuts.
Whether you call them teacakes, sugar cookies or snaps, I think you will agree these treats are keepers.
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted self-rising flour
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until well mixed. Add oil, sugar, vanilla and flour. Mix well with a spoon; mixture will be thin. Drop from a teaspoon onto the foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.
LEMON ALMOND SNAPS
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
2/3 cup oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces almonds, finely ground
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract
Preheat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and oil. Beat until well blended. In medium bowl, combine flour, ground almonds, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix. Add flour/almond mixture and the lemon extract to the creamed mixture. Beat well. Drop dough from teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Flatten dough using the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on rack.
Store in an airtight container.
Email Prudence Hilburn at firstname.lastname@example.org