You can’t keep Bess away from cookie sheets


One of my favorite things about recreating Cookies by Bess is reading all the old newspaper articles written about Bess. A lot of the information in the articles is the same, as the stories are the stories, but each article also has at least one new “tidbit”. The “tidbit” I learned from You can’t keep Bess away from cookie sheets, is that Grandma Bess cleaned her utensils immediately after using them. Read on to see why ?

Grandma Bess loved to do these interviews! She loved to talk about her baking and her family and of course her husband Abe (Grandpa Abe). She always throws in some baking tips and provides some of her favorite recipes.

Grandma Bess also loved to share her cookies and her recipes. And now, I love baking and sharing them too! I certainly can’t take credit for finding or developing the recipes, but I can keep Grandma Bess’ legacy going by baking them!  I hope you enjoy reading this newspaper article from June, 1980.

You can’t keep Bess away from cookie sheets, By Barbara Lundquist, Family Living Editor

Published for Wausau/Merrill, WI in The Daily Herald  on Thursday, June 12, 1980

The article was in the Family Living section on Page 9

Bess Hoffman is the grandmother you’ve always dreamed of having. Her cookie jar runneth over.

The 72-year-young former Wausau resident believes a buttery cookie can erase a frown quicker than anything.

In the 1960s, she published the cookbook “Cookies by Bess” to prove her point. The book was reprinted seven times until it was abandoned in 1972 when the Hoffman’s moved to Los Angeles, Calif.

Well, you can start smiling again. Mrs. Hoffman has just published a completely new edition of her renowned “Cookies by Bess” cookbook.

“It was the idea of my sons to print a new edition. They just didn’t want to see it end.” Says Mrs. Hoffman, who visited Wausau Wednesday to talk about her book.

According to Mrs. Hoffman, the new cookbook is easier to read and contains new hints and recipes. Many of the recipes are originals; some are her mother’s; some were obtained from friends.

She’s tested every recipe and probably made each one in quantum proportions.

This lady bakes in a big way, as many Wausau residents may remember. She was a favorite on the block, continuously attracting hungry kids to her door, who would fidget and fib, “My mother sent me over here for some of your cookies.”

She has baked cookies for friends’ parties and special family occasions.

She made 10,000 cookies for the opening celebration of her sons’ (Richard and Ronald) drug store in Appleton. She made 3,000 for the May 17 wedding of her granddaughter. “Those cookies were our carry-on luggage on the plane,” laughs Mrs. Hoffman.

I’s not unusual for her to bake 1,500 cookies a day. “I work with four sheets going at a time. I only stop for lunch,” laughs Mrs. Hoffman.

She is efficient in the kitchen, always assembling the necessary utensils within easy reach and preparing ahead all the ingredients, such as cutting cherries or chopping nuts.

She also washes the utensils immediately after using them to avoid the headaches of cleaning after baking.

“You shouldn’t feel that baking is a job. If should be a joy,” say Mrs. Hoffman.

Another touch that makes her cookies special is using real butter instead of margarine. She claims the taste of butter can’t be matched.

“I always use the best ingredients,’ she says.

Cookies may be frozen up to 12 months, says Mrs. Hoffman. And she claims they can be refrozen too, if they are properly wrapped and sealed.

Unlike many good cooks, Mrs. Hoffman never bakes with out looking at a recipe.

During her residence in Wausau, the “Cookie Lady” often taught cookie classes around the holiday season and gave many demonstrations for clubs and schools.

While here she was named the 1965 recipient of the Marathon Business and Professional Womens’ Club. “Woman of Achievement” award for her efforts and contributions to the clubs scholarship fund through the sale of “Cookies by Bess”.

Her husband Abe was the personnel and credit manager of the old Winkelman’s Department Store and manager of the Wausau Credit Bureau, until his retirement in 1972 when they moved to Los Angeles.

He loves his wife’s cooking but complains “The only times I sample her cookies are when they’re broken or burnt. And that’s not very often.”

They are heading for their 54th wedding anniversary. And if butter, flour and cookie recipes haven’t cemented their relationship, they surely haven’t hurt it either.

Back in California, in between cookbooks, Mrs. Hoffman occupies herself with her loves – “people, baking, family, and needlepoint.”

The following cookie recipes were included with the news article:

Cinnamon Logs

Fudge Bars No. 2

Dutch Honey Butter Cookies


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