When Yankee published its first issue in 1935, Maine’s Arroostook County was the potato-growing capital of America. In a 1937 Yankee article, Pearl Ashby Tibbets noted, “This section of the Pine Tree State is a land of extremes. Affluence or poverty depend on the price of potatoes.” In 1925, potatoes sold for $12 a barrel; in 1933, it was 10¢.
Tibbets, described in the article as “the busy wife of a very busy country doctor in Bethel, Maine,” concluded her article with 100 potato recipes, all written in short paragraph form. Included among them was an intriguing recipe for “Potato Drop Cookies—Molasses.”
The original recipe reflects the economy that home cooks practiced during the Great Depression, and we found the actual results to be a little too cakey and dry. With a few changes, however, the cookies now have a soft, moist texture, with the added pleasure of making good use of leftover mashed potatoes.
Preheat your oven to 350° and position the racks in the middle, with space in between. Grease two cookie (baking) sheets or line with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl, if using a hand-held mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat 1 minute. Add the molasses and mashed potatoes, and beat to combine.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, and beat to combine.
Drop the dough onto the baking sheets a heaping tablespoon at a time, 2-½ inches apart. Garnish with decorative sprinkles.
Bake until lightly browned on the bottom, rotating pans halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks; then serve.