The legend goes that this cookie, which was originally made with molasses and rum, came from a man named Joe Brown from Marblehead, Massachusetts. He was a free African American who owned a tavern in town with his wife, Lucretia. It’s said that Joe would use the cookies to trade for rum from sailors who came to town.
Listen to our podcast to hear the story about the origins of Joe Frogger Cookies.
In a small bowl, combine hot water and rum. In a large second bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour with the baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
In another large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add water and rum to creamed mixture and beat well. Add one-third of the flour mixture and stir, then stir in half the molasses, scraping down the sides as you go. Repeat with an additional third of the flour mixture and the remaining molasses.
Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture. If the dough seems too loose, add the extra 1/2 cup flour. (You may have to add a bit more flour but the dough should be sticky, not dry. If you add too much flour the cookies will be tough.)
Divide the dough into two balls, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease two baking sheets or line with parchment. You have two options for shaping the cookies: on a floured surface you can roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness and use a floured 2-inch cookie cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Transfer the cookies onto the baking sheets, leaving 2-inches between each cookie. You may also use a salad plate as a guide or a coffee can to make larger cookies.
Bake cookies until they have set but still seem soft in the middle, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container or cookie jar.