Apees Cookies – President James Buchanan’s Favorite Cookie

Today in American history…James Buchanan was born on April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania. He was our fifteenth U.S. President – serving from March 4, 1857 to March 4, 1861.

President James Buchanan (Matthew Brady Photo)

An article from the Daily Democrat and News published on 20 December 1859 pretty much summed up a “day in the life” of President Buchanan:

“If Mr. Buchanan does not enjoy his politics; he is in full enjoyment of his usual robust health. He rises early, reads the newspapers, breakfasts, transacts business, takes a walk, dines plainly, receives visitors, and goes to bed at ten o’clock” (Daily Democrat and News, 20 December 1859, page 2: column 3, Chronicling America, LOC).

For dinner, he may have eaten his favorite sauerkraut and pork along with the cookies he enjoyed the most for dessert: Apees.

I have never heard of this cookie so, of course, had to do a little bit of research. Apees were a spiced butter cookie of German origins that were very popular in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch country. They used to be be made with spices but later on, because of the cost and the hassle of being imported, they later turned into somewhat of a butter cookie.

For the history of the cookie and the original recipe from 1828 click here.

Here’s the modern recipe that I used in the kitchen today:


1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup of sour cream

2 c all-purpose flour


Cream together the butter and sugar till the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Fold in the sour cream.

Stir in the flour a little at a time, beating until the mixture is well blended.

Wrap the dough and chill thoroughly. I refrigerated the dough overnight.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 3/8 an inch thickness.

Cut with a floured 2 inch round cutter.

Place rounds on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven of 350 degrees until the edges are a golden brown – about 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool.

The cookies are delicious plain but I prefer to add buttercream icing – which makes them even more delicious!

Apees Cookies

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