Cookies that are made by dropping a spoonful of batter onto a baking pan are called drop cookies. The batter for these types of cookies is usually soft, but stiff enough to hold their shape when dropped onto the pan. While cooking, the batter will spread out and flatten to form the popular circle cookie shape. The word cookie is commonly used in the United States and Canada, but these sweet treats are often referred to as biscuits in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries.
The batter is basically the same for all drop cookies, and consists of flour, sugar, eggs, and oil or butter. The baker can add additional ingredients to the batter to create one of the many varieties of drop cookies, such as chocolate chip, oatmeal, and rock cakes. The most famous drop cookie is probably the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie, which was invented in Whitman, Massachusetts, in the 1930s. Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn, ran out of baking chocolate for her chocolate dough drop cookies and used chopped up chocolate bars instead.
No bake cookies, which usually require refrigeration instead of baking, are another variation of the classic drop cookie. The name indicates that no baking is required, but some recipes may instruct the baker to heat up or melt some of the ingredients in a pan during the preparation and batter mixing process. Peanut butter cookies are a popular example of a no bake cookie. Most peanut butter drop cookie recipes call for the baker to heat up all the ingredients in a pan on top of the stove prior to adding the peanut butter. After the peanut butter is mixed in, the dough is dropped onto a pan or plate and placed into the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
The origin of the cookie is steeped in history. Biscuits were part of ancient Roman army rations because they were portable, durable, and did not spoil quickly. This dense bread-like food gradually evolved into small cakes and wafers. Today, most English speaking countries still use the traditional word biscuit to define these small desserts. In the 1600s, America was introduced to cookies by early English and Dutch immigrants. The Dutch term for cookie is koekjes, which means "little cake," and became the word "cookie" in the United States.