Words, words, words, art.

The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

CAI Recipe: Gum Drop Cookie Bars


I learned to cook from my mom, who learned to cook from HER mom. I don’t know if SHE learned to cook from HER mom, or was self taught, or what. But definitely used the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, which she handed down to my mom. I have a copy but not her copy, with the stains on the section on pancakes and the notes and the crease where the book falls open automatically to often-used recipes.

The cook book has easily FOUR HUNDRED MILLION BILLION recipes but we only ever used a few of them. My goal this year is to bake up one recipe a week for a full year, focusing on desserts. I was initially going to do all cookies but some of these recipes…. look man. Dates. Ground raisins. Prunes as far as the eye can see. Hickory nuts. Do hickory nuts even exist any more? That’s a rhetorical question, don’t answer.

I’m selecting recipes that look good, as opposed to those “ew look at this old timey jello-based food!” projects. I’m also trying to avoid nuts because my kid has a nut allergy. This cut out a LOT of cookie recipes. This cook book has 300 cookie recipes. I’ve managed to select…24. Plus I’m going to donk around with a recipe I used to use a lot that is from that era.

What era is that, you might ask? The book was originally published in 1950, which means most of the recipes were created/tested in the 1940s. I say “most” because the book was republished a few times and I assume there were more recipes added, or corrected. I could be wrong.

My first recipe is for something called “Gum Drop Cookie Bars.” They are… a bar cookie made with gum drops. I couldn’t find gum drops so I used DOTS instead… which went directly against the dire warnings of recipes online (which were super different from this recipe).


  • 2 c cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c evaporated milk
  • 1 c soft gumdrops, cut into small pieces (omit licorice)
  • 1 c chopped nut meats

Whisk flour, salt, and cinnamon together. Beat eggs until light, then beat in sugar and milk gradually. Add flour mixture in thirds, beating until smooth after each edition. Add gumdrops and nuts. Spread in a greased pan and bake at 325* for 35 minutes. Cut into bars 4″ x 1″. Spread tops with frosting and decorate with sliced gumdrops. Makes 40.


  • I omitted the nuts, although these would be great with chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • The cookies came out only half baked, even with a longer baking time. After they cooled, and hadn’t set up further, I put them back in a 325* oven for an additional TWENTY minutes. As I was reading the recipe I felt that it was incorrect, although several other recipes in the book have the same cooking directions.
  • I made these in a casserole and I possibly should have made them in a jelly roll pan, so the layer was thinner. I was worried there’d be too much batter for my jelly rolls.
  • I would 100% recommend adding the wet to the dry, not the dry to the wet as indicated in the recipe. It’s really hard to incorporate dry ingredients into a liquid. I have no idea why this would be in the directions.

These bar cookies are made with a batter, not a dough, so they’re more cake like than the bar cookies I’m used to. Once baked through, the very edges had a nice bit of crispness, but the cookies were moist yet firm. They’ve held up well without being tightly wrapped. The cookies have a VERY strong cinnamon flavor, as well as a dominant brown sugar flavor. Spice drops might have been a really good choice. There’s a bunch of gumdrop cookie bar recipes online, and they’re all REALLY different from these. There’s no butter in these, and that really affects the flavor. They kind of almost remind me of fruit cake cookies or something, if you’re used to those neon green and red sticky fruits in a fruit cake.

I might POSSIBLY make these with jelly beans for Easter, although I normally use a chocolate chip dough without the chocolate and make drop cookies. These cookie bars just come across as WEIRD in texture and flavor, but I think that’s because it was what was popular at the time and tastes have changed. They’re not BAD though, and if you grew up eating these you’d probably really like them.

Here are the plain cookie bars. You can see they’re a light brown with a slightly crackled surface. They look a bit like a blondie.

The recipe calls for frosting which I thought might be weird/too much so I tried some powdered sugar which added a nice bit of extra flavor to the cookies.

I also tried the frosting, with some sliced gum drops on top. Very pretty, and the different textures of cookie and frosting were great. The frosting, which was a cream cheese frosting I had on hand, really brought out a lot of extra flavor in the cookie… probably because of the fat in it.

I had these for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

posted under cookies, culinary arts institute cookbook, evaporated milk, experiments in baking, recipe | Comments Off on CAI Recipe: Gum Drop Cookie Bars