A Taste for History: Kentucky Sweet Cookies Recipe

Discover a historical recipe for sugar cookies, a favorite during the Civil War era.

| July 2018

  • Sweet cookies are unlikely to have been cooked in a camp but rather sent to soldiers in care packages from home.
    Photo by Getty/NorthStar203
  • “A Taste for War” by William C. Davis explores the history of Civil War cooking and shares recipes that nourished life during hard times.
    Cover courtesy of the University of Nebraska Press

A Taste for War (University of Nebraska Press, 2011), by William C. Davis, explores the culinary history of the United States’ most devastating war and reproduces recipes originating from that time. William C. Davis, a professor of history, is a renowned author of southern and civil war history books and the director of programs for the Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. This excerpt from A Taste for War is a recipe for Kentucky Sweet Cookies.


  • 1 pound of cubed butter
  • 3 pounds of flour
  • 1 pound of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of wine
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • 1 teaspoon of boiling water
  • Buttermilk


  1. Rub 1 pound of cubed butter into 3 pounds of flour.
  2. Then dust in 1 pound of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of powdered nutmeg.
  3. Stir in 1/4 cup of wine mixed with 1/4 cup of brandy if available.
  4. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking powder into a few spoonfuls of boiling water. Then add it to the flour mixture and mix it with as much buttermilk as will make the whole into a firm dough. Knead well.
  5. Roll out a 1/2 inch thick, and cut into small cookie-size disks. Place on a sheet and bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until well browned..

More from A Taste for War:

Excerpted from A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and Gray by William C. Davis by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. ©2003 by Stackpole Books; first Nebraska paperback printing: 2011.



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