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The earliest reference to cookies in America is in 1703, when the Dutch in New York provided 800 cookies for a funeral.

Today is National Cookie Day, a perfectly good reason to indulge in your favorite sweet treat.

The experts at National Today conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans to reveal the truth behind their inner cookie monster. Here’s what they found:

• 35 percent of respondents said Oreos are their favorite cookie brand.

• 65 said they prefer a chewy cookie.

• 33 percent of men and women admit to eating cookies a couple of times a week. But, men lead the way with 14 percent indulging in the sugary treats more than once a day compared to 8 percent of women.

• 54 percent said they prefer homemade cookies to store-bought cookies.

• 7 percent of respondents have never baked their own cookies.

• 43 percent say they have finished a whole row of Oreos ... in one sitting.

The Food Lover’s Companion describes a cookie as any of various hand-held, flour-based sweet cakes, either crisp or soft. The word cookie comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning “little cake.” Different countries have their own word for cookies. In England, cookies are called biscuits; in Spain they’re galletas; Germans call them keks; and in Italy, they’re known as biscotti.

The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to 7th-century Persia, one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. The sweet treat came to America through the Dutch in New Amsterdam in the late 1620s. The earliest reference to cookies in America is in 1703, when the Dutch in New York provided 800 cookies for a funeral.

There are six basic cookie styles: drop, bar, hand-formed, pressed, refrigerator and rolled. No matter how you make them, here are some holiday recipes to get you started.

PECAN CRESCENTS

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 cups finely chopped or ground pecans

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter, gradually adding confectioners’ sugar and salt. Cream until light and fluffy.

Stir in pecans and vanilla. Add flour gradually, mixing well. Pinch off about a teaspoon of dough and shape into crescents. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not brown. Roll cookies in additional confectioners’ sugar while they’re still warm.

ORIGINAL TOLL HOUSE COOKIES

2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved into 1 teaspoon hot water

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon table salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugars. Add the beaten eggs. Add the baking soda dissolved in hot water.

Sift together the flour and salt and add to the butter mixture. Then stir in nuts, chocolate chips and vanilla.

Chill the dough. Drop by tablespoonful onto lightly greased cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees until browned at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 2 to 3 dozen.

WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

2 sticks butter, softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 48 cookies.

TOFFEE BUTTER ICEBOX COOKIES

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 cup Heath toffee bits

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and egg and mix until well combined. Stir in flour, mixing until fully incorporated. If dough appears too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together. Fold in toffee bits.

Divide dough in half; roll each half into a log about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until firm.

When ready to cook, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove plastic wrap from rolls and cut into 1/4-inch slices and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 48.

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