Dottie’s Chocolate Jumbles Cookies

by Julie Cohn
Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies1

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Chocolate Jumbles cookies are a treasured holiday cookie in the Schoharie & Mohawk Valley areas of upstate New York where my husband grew up. (Shout out to our extended family in Cobleskill.)  In fact, some say it is not a true holiday season without a batch of chocolate jumbles cookies! Most people who grew up in this area immediately know what Chocolate Jumbles cookies are, with variations of the recipe passed down from generation to generation.  I have heard they are also known as Chocolate Jumbos, but our family knows them as Chocolate Jumbles.
 

Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies9

Dottie’s Chocolate Jumbles Cookies

 
What are Chocolate Jumbles cookies?  They are an incredibly moist, flavorful cookie with ginger, molasses, and cocoa inside, topped with a sweet kiss of royal or cream cheese icing. 
 
This particular recipe was given to me years ago by my sister-in-law, Cathy, who got the original recipe from my mother-in-law, who got it from Dottie, a family friend of my mother-in-law’s.  Dottie made Chocolate Jumbles every year during the holidays and thoughtfully shared them with family and friends throughout Cobleskill.  Since we no longer live in the Cobleskill area, I am thankful that we have this recipe. Whether you call them Chocolate Jumbles or Chocolate Jumbos, it would not be Christmas without a batch of these yummy cookies. Once you try them, they will become a treasured favorite for your family too!
 
Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies9

Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies

Yield: 24
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 23 minutes

A CORK, FORK, & PASSPORT

An upstate New York favorite from A Cork, Fork, & Passport https://acorkforkandpassport.com

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Shortening
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 c. Molasses
  • 1/2 c. Hot Water or Coffee
  • 1 c. Cocoa
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Ground Clove
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 4 1/2 c. Flour
  • Royal Icing
  • 3 c. Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1/2 c. Butter, softened
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Milk

Instructions

Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs together.  Mix in molasses until
blended.  Add hot water, cocoa, and vanilla and stir until combined. 

Mix the remaining dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, and slowly add to
the molasses mixture.  The dough will become stiff but make certain all
the dry ingredients are thoroughly blended together. Cover the bowl with
plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a few hours. 

Separate the dough into four balls and set three of the balls back in the bowl and in
the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first ball with a rolling pin until it
is about 3/4 inch thick. Using a donut cutter, cut the dough into rounds.  Using a smaller biscuit cutter or apple corer, cut out the center of each round, so the cookie dough resembles a donut.  Place the cookie rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack.

Royal Icing

Mix the sugar and butter together.  Add the salt and vanilla and blend. 
Add the milk, starting with 2-3 Tbsp, and add more as needed to thin out the
icing.  Be careful you do not thin it too much, but if you do, add a pinch
more confectioners’ sugar.    Spread the icing over each cookie and
allow to harden before eating.






Notes

Some people use hot water in their cookies, some use hot coffee. We like the flavor of hot coffee.

Nutrition Information
Yield 36 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 239Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 21mgSodium 176mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 1gSugar 23gProtein 3g

All nutrition information is approximate.

 
Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies2

Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies3

Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies4

Key Ingredients & Healthy Substitutions

There are a few key ingredients in the Chocolate Jumbles cookies you should be aware of, with a few healthy substitution ideas, but to be quite honest, don’t mess with this recipe too much.  There are many dishes you can successfully substitute ingredients to make them healthier but this is not one of them.  Since these are primarily a holiday cookie, you only enjoy them once or twice a year, so indulge a little and eat healthier in other areas.  I am a firm believer in allowing yourself some indulgences while maintaining a healthy life.  
 
Shortening:  Use solid vegetable shortening in this recipe.  If you want to make this a bit healthier, use coconut oil.  Butter will change the consistency and taste of the cookie, so I would not use butter.  
 
Sugar:  Sugar is one area you should be able to successfully substitute ingredients.  This recipe calls for white table sugar but you can substitute with coconut or raw sugar.  
 
Molasses:  Blackstrap molasses are power-packed with antioxidants and vitamins and are one of the key flavors in this cookie, so do not substitute.  The only substitution I would do here is organic molasses. 
 
Hot Coffee:  This is an ingredient that varies from family to family.  Some use hot coffee, others use hot water.  I’ve made both but think the hot coffee brings out the flavor of the chocolate more. 
 
Cocoa:  You can use natural cocoa or dutch-process cocoa here, whichever taste you prefer.  Natural cocoa cookies will be puffier but have less “chocolate” flavor; dutch cocoa cookies will have less lift but a more pronounced chocolate flavor.  Since I use hot coffee, which brings out the flavor of the chocolate, I use natural cocoa.  
 

Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles Cookies7

Note:  I received a message from someone stating that this Chocolate Jumbles recipe was a “secret family recipe” and did not wish me to share it.  In fact, they became rather rude and threatening. I want to make it very clear, this is not a stolen secret family recipe.  I am sorry that family does not wish to share their recipe with others, as cookies by their very nature are meant to be shared, but I have violated no copyright laws in sharing this with you since recipes are not subject to copyright law. I have also made it very clear that this is a recipe from a family friend, who got the recipe from her grandmother.

Because of the message I received, I took the extra step of verifying the history of this cookie.  It is, in fact, a well-known recipe in the Schoharie and Mohawk Valley regions, with several variations.  In researching the history of Chocolate Jumbles, I discovered that it is an old 17th-century recipe from Germany, similar to a lebkuchen, brought over by German immigrants.

Upstate New York families have been making this cookie for over 200 years since.  While it may be a “secret” family recipe for some, there is no way to claim ownership for such an old and beloved recipe. In keeping with Dottie’s kind and generous spirit of giving, I will continue to share this recipe with the hope that others can enjoy these wonderful little Chocolate Jumbles cookies with their family too.

Looking for other upstate New York favorites? 

Dottie's Chocolate Jumbles

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45 comments

Jenny Salley Ruland 06/29/2017 at 4:40 pm

Thank you! Thank you Julie! What a delight to discover your post and recipe!

21 years ago I married Kenny Ruland of Cobleskill, NY. One my first memories of those early days was the magic of those Schoharie Chocolate Jumbles!

Unfortunately, as you revealed, getting the recipe pried out of the hands of the natives was a challenge. Your generosity and thoughtfulness brought a smile to my face!

As I write this note, I am baking them right up for my daughter Rose’s graduation party tomorrow. 2 daughters down, 2 more daughters to go! We now live in Corning NY but the Schoharie County clan are headed this way. Boy are they in for a surprise!

PS – I read your post to my husband and he smiled. He immediately knew your name and started naming off all your relatives. He sends a special Hello and Thank you!

Sincerely,
Jenny Salley Ruland

Reply
Julie Cohn 06/29/2017 at 7:27 pm

Thank you so much Jenny! We live in AZ now but are heading back to NY next week! I will mention your husband to mine and see if he knows his family! Your husband probably knows Dottie too! 🙂 I hope you enjoy them! We also the cookies from the Carrot Barn!

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Jenn L. S. 12/15/2017 at 10:53 am

OMG I’ve been craving these cookies for years. As a Coby native I had NO idea these were regional until I transplanted first to AZ and then to Philly. I’m actually using them as one of my cookie swap contributions this year. No lie, I now can go Christmas shopping and finally decorate with 10 days to spare.

Jenn L. S.

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Julie Cohn 12/15/2017 at 9:23 pm

I’m so glad Jenn, thank you! Maybe you know my husband?

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Melissa 02/20/2018 at 6:18 am

Thank you for posting this recipe! We used to buy the Chocolate Jumbles or the Half and Half cookies in Sammonsville at Wemple and Edick’s. Gosh I miss that place, their homemade jumbles and their homemade ice cream.

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Julie Cohn 02/20/2018 at 7:05 am

Thank you Melissa! I love half and half cookies, and there is no place to get them out here in AZ!

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Sheila Khachadoorian 10/30/2018 at 10:37 pm

These cookies are demanded by my adult children and 20 something grand-kids at Christmas (although I make them prior to T’giving and dole them out tthen) the recipe was given to me by my great grandmother in law Leona Lawton, Gloversville NY(Fulton county). She led me to believe it was a secret family recipe too! I have since entered it in many club and church cookbooks for all to share. The difference in the recipe I make from the one here is I use bakers chocolate squares and I cut with a donut cutter, making them uniform. This is the best thing I make (according to my kids) and will probably be the one big think they remember me for! Oh,……NO ginger is in this recipe (as noted in the blurb, but not in the ingredients list). The main ingredients that make this an outstanding cookie is the molasses, the cinnamon and clove.

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Julie Cohn 10/30/2018 at 11:46 pm

Thanks Sheila!

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Hannah 11/16/2018 at 11:01 pm

Thanks For Sharing this recipe!! My family has made these every year when I was growing up, and then my aunt lost her recipe. I grew up in Middleburgh and these are such a tradition. I looked for years for the actual recipe (being away from the area didn’t make things easy either) but had to come up with my own version which was actual pretty similar. This year I am gonna try this version though and see if my family notices the difference.

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Julie Cohn 11/17/2018 at 5:51 am

Thank Hannah! Hope the recipe is like what you grew up with!

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Joni Mars 12/07/2018 at 7:36 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe! I too had no idea these were a regional recipe. I grew up in Cobleskill/Berne NY and they were such a staple of my childhood that I assumed everyone had them! Sadly my grandmother passed away 10 years ago and the recipe was lost…or so I thought. I have lived in Arizona for awhile now and am so ecstatic to have this recipe again (just as a side note, our family ALWAYS made ours with strong black coffee instead of hot water). Thank you again!

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Julie Cohn 12/07/2018 at 7:44 pm

Joni: Thank you for your kind words and for the recommendation on using coffee, I will try that! My husband grew up in Cobleskill too!

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Laura Sakshaug 12/15/2018 at 5:09 pm

I was very excited to stumble on this recipe. It is very similar to mine. It was the cookie in the cookie jar when my grandfather was growing up in the early 1900’s. He was from Schoharie county NY. They became christmas cookies as I was growing up and would make them for my grandfather as a christmas present. We cut the traditional cookie with a donut cutter which gave the round circle with the hole in the middle. I always make plenty of them as well as other shapes at christmas. My daughter and I make them every year and ship them to relatives and friends around the country. I am a transplanted New Yorker living in AZ. Definitely my favorite!!!

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Julie Cohn 12/15/2018 at 6:13 pm

Thank you Laura, happy holidays!

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Debbie P. 12/17/2018 at 4:48 pm

As a Schoharie resident since day one, these have always been a part of my life. The recipe varies from one person to another. For instance i use my grandmother’s recipe which doesn’t call for coffee. Also the taste will vary depending on what kind of molasses you use. I did two batches this year using two different molasses. One is very dark and has a stronger taste. Both are very good. The other difference in recipes is that mine says add flour with no given amount (gives an idea how old the recipe is) but after 40 plus years of making them I’ve figured that out. I have passed grandma’s recipe to my daughter and hopefully my grandkids will also make them someday.

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Connie Spohn 12/18/2018 at 2:46 pm

Could not believe it when I saw “Dottie’s” recipe. What was best about it was that she did not share the recipe, she made the cookies and shared them at many events and occasions. Dottie shared them at the last ladies golf dinner at the Cobleskill Country Club. She made boxes full of them. If you grew up in Schoharie County it was likely that your grandmother or mother made them for many occasions. My father and brothers really loved (love) jumbles. Although I have always made lots of cookies at Christmas, once I was married I did not make them. My brothers are the ones that do now. Fond memories of Dottie, my mother and my dad with this post. Dad was known for falling asleep in his chair or on the house and we have a picture of a chocolate jumble wreathing his nose!

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Julie Cohn 12/18/2018 at 4:11 pm

Thank you for sharing your memories, Connie! I met Dottie once when she came to deliver a box of her wonderful Jumbles to my mother-in-law before getting her hair done. Dottie was a lovely lady.

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Sheryl 12/30/2018 at 4:13 am

i I grew up not far from Schoharie, from Saint Johnsville, NY, and these were a staple in our house, especially during the holidays. My great aunt taught me to make these. Thank you for sharing with everyone. They all need to enjoy these wonderful cookies.

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Julie Cohn 12/30/2018 at 9:49 pm

Thank you Sheryl! I need to make another batch for my husband! 🙂

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Sandie 01/04/2019 at 9:34 am

Thank you for sharing. My Gram made them for our family reunions! I have the recipe but mine cone out hard. What am I doing wrong!

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Julie Cohn 01/04/2019 at 9:02 pm

If they are coming out too hard, perhaps your oven runs hot and you need to take them out of the oven 2-3 minutes earlier than recommended in the recipe? The only other thing I can think of is if you work the dough too much, it can break down the molecules in the dough, making the cookie dough tough. The other thing you could try is pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. It has less protein, so the cookies will come out fluffier. Let me know if you make a new batch, how they turn out.

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Natasha Wall 01/25/2019 at 3:41 pm

Just tried this recipe and Dottie would be proud, i think ( from my husband’s mouth he used to work at Cobleskill Country club 😉 ) these were great! Thank you so much for posting this recipe ! I also used coffee ( wasnt anything different then what we drink though – but it does “punch ” the flavor of the cocoa )

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Julie Cohn 01/25/2019 at 4:15 pm

Thank you Natasha! My husband used to work there when he was in high school too!

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chris 01/27/2019 at 8:12 am

thank you for recipe and they look delicious..how much do they make as far as dozen (s)?ty again

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Julie Cohn 01/28/2019 at 8:43 pm

I make them big so only get about 24-30 out of one batch! Thanks for asking.

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Heidi 10/14/2019 at 10:07 am

I stumbled upon your recipe through a Quora link and definitely would like to try these! I have a question about what to do with the little round pieces cut out from the center. Do you just add them to the next ball of dough? Also, what diameter biscuit cutter are you using? Thanks for posting this secret recipe! I love learning about the history of regional recipes.

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Julie Cohn 10/14/2019 at 11:03 am

Hi Heidi, and thank you! The extra pieces from the center I roll into a ball and roll back out with the rolling pin to use as much of the dough as possible. Also, I usually use the 3 1/4 in size biscuit cutter but you can use whatever size works for you. My husband likes big cookies! 🙂

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Sherrie 10/28/2019 at 8:19 am

In this blog, you mention these Chocolate Jumbles cookies are made with ginger, molasses, and cocoa in them, yet no ginger listed in ingredients not in directions. Can you clarify?

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Julie Cohn 10/28/2019 at 8:39 am

Thank you for bringing this to my attention! Another reader noticed this today too. There is ginger in it but at some point in time it got deleted by mistake, so I have added it back in.

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Antonia Triumpho 10/29/2019 at 8:22 am

I have a recipe that is similar to this one that was passed down several generations. Just an FYI if you use a donut cutter it’s must faster to cut out cookies.

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Julie Cohn 10/29/2019 at 7:50 pm

Great tip, thank you Antonia!

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Wendy 10/29/2019 at 2:53 pm

Would love to print this recipe but no PRINT button!

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Julie Cohn 10/29/2019 at 7:50 pm

Give me a few days and I will convert it so you can print it! ♥ I am actually enjoying fall in Schoharie County right now.

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William Fox 10/29/2019 at 5:26 pm

When my mother Lena (Rorick) Fox (1906-1962) of Gloversville, N.Y. was a young girl she would spend several weeks with her Rorick-Pickett relatives in the Schoharie valley. She started making a cook book of all the recipes she had seen the old timers make. Her people were German descendants and one of her recipes was for chocolate jumbos. I have it somewhere among my many recipes that I have collected over the past 75 years. I have known what chocolate Jumbos were since my childhood.

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Julie Cohn 10/29/2019 at 7:50 pm

William, I have heard them called jumbos and jumbles!

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Judy Kane 10/29/2019 at 8:35 pm

Wow! So glad to find this recipe. Chocolate Jumbos are my husband’s favorite but no one in his family wrote the recipe down and none of them are left. Quick question. For shortening, do you use butter or Crisco? My husband says thanks! We are from Johnstown, NY.

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Julie Cohn 10/30/2019 at 7:06 am

Thank you, Judy! The original recipe calls for Crisco but I am sure you could substitute with butter, although the taste would be slightly different, as would the texture, they would be fine.

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Hollie Vitola 11/09/2019 at 7:30 am

You forgot to mention that the cookie gets frosted on the flat side (underside). I grew up in Sharon Springs and live in Middleburgh these days. Chocolate Jumbles are my tradition for Christmas to share with my kids and grandkids.

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Julie Cohn 11/09/2019 at 7:32 pm

Thanks Hollie!

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Mary Filippini 12/02/2019 at 10:29 am

Hi Julie,
Should the it be powdered ginger or freshly grated ginger ?
Has anyone tried this using the butter flavored Crisco?

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Julie Cohn 12/02/2019 at 4:54 pm

I use powdered ginger but you could use fresh too, but I would use a bit less because the taste will be stronger. I have not tried it with butter-flavored Crisco.

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Cheryl L Steimel 12/04/2019 at 12:15 pm

Except for the addition of cocoa and frosting, this recipe is the same as the Cry Baby cookies my mother made every holiday. They were delicious, and I still make them for my family. Thanks for sharing!

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Julie Cohn 12/04/2019 at 1:21 pm

Thank you Cheryl! I have never heard them called Cry Baby Cookies. Are you from upstate NY?

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Barbara Anderson 09/27/2020 at 1:44 pm

Thank you so much! Grew up in Fonda NY with Chocolate Jumbles from the Fort Plain bakery. I moved to NYC and was surprised to discover they did not exist there – though I got to explore dozens of NY bakeries along the way. I also tried to re-create them myself and got results that were ‘almost’ I’m delighted to have the real thing!

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Julie Cohn 09/27/2020 at 3:12 pm

Yay, thank you! I just made a batch a few weeks ago. ♥

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