POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 23, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 3:38 a.m. HST, Mar 23, 2011
If there were an American hall of fame for cookies, Hawaii’s entry would probably be the Mountain View Bakery Stone Cookie. Legendary in appeal and somewhat mysterious in background, this ultrahard, oversize, elongated cookie has niche appeal.
James “Kimo” Kaleika‘apuni Ahia of College Place, Wash., wrote in search of a recipe for this cookie, which was a beloved part of his childhood growing up in Mountain View. He said he would test it against his memories of the cookie. So I got him a basic recipe (not the real one — that’s a bakery secret) and mailed him a box of Mountain View cookies, asking that he let me know when he perfected his recipe.
Two years passed with no word until a couple of weeks ago when a box arrived in the mail with a brand-new recipe and a bag of cookies. Delicious cookies.
Ahia grew up with Robert Kotomori, whose father, Shigeru, founded the bakery. Robert later took over the bakery and ran it until six years ago when he sold it to his niece, Lori Tsueda, and her husband, Russell.
“Small-kid time we used to put the stone cookie in our shirt or pants pocket and be able to break off a piece any time,” Ahia wrote.
“All of us kids used to stop at the bakery after school to get a cookie and finish the long walk uphill.”
Another reader, Helen Y. Rauer, sent in her own historic anecdote — the cookies, she wrote, were popular with salesmen who traveled from Hilo to Kona and back. “They bought them to gnaw as they drove from town to town. The cookies fit into their shirt pockets. … That is why they are not round or square.” They also did not crumble, Rauer said.
Now, Lori Tsueda had never heard that story. Her grandfather, she said, developed the cookie through trial and error when he opened the bakery in 1936. She’s not sure why he made it so hard or so oblong, except that it became popular for dipping in drinks.
Whatever the case, the stone cookie is the bakery’s main product, with about 700 dozen baked every week, Tsueda said. It now comes in chocolate chip, coconut and raisin flavors, a popular “half-baked” or softer version and an “extra crispy” type that’s even harder than the original (“almost burnt,” is how Tsueda described it).
They are available on Oahu at Marukai Wholesale Markets and some Longs Drugs stores.
Ahia notes that in matching the stone cookie flavor of his memories, he kept in mind that butter and refined white sugar were hard to come by in those days, so his recipe uses shortening and raw sugar.
4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup raw or turbinado sugar
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheet with baking parchment or grease lightly.
Combine flour and cream of tartar.
Cream shortening with sugar and salt until fluffy. Add egg, milk, baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour and mix until well blended. Pat dough into a large ball.
Dust hands with flour. Pinch off golf-ball-size pieces of dough. Place on cookie sheet and flatten into slabs 3/8-inch thick. Brush with more milk if a glossy top is desired. Bake until brown and almost firm, about 25 minutes. Check to be sure cookies don’t burn. Cookies will harden as they cool. Makes about 2 dozen.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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