Emacs Cookies

Way back in the 1970s, Richard Stallman (rms) created the GNU project in reaction to the commercialization of software, which was taking away the cooperative world that he was used to. Over the years more and more applications were added to GNU until it became an entire operating system. Finally all it needed was the "kernel". Linus Tolvalds created that and called it Linux. Today what we call Linux is almost entirely built on the back of the GNU project.

EMACS is a text editor written in 1976 by Stallman as the first part of the GNU project. For many years there was a text file in with the distribution with several recipes for cookies. Unfortunately it was removed in 2014 so it is now apocryphal and I include it here. The file itself is here: http://www.soronlin.org.uk/local--files/emacs-cookies/Emacs%20COOKIES.txt

But I will also expound on the first and original recipe in the file which I find makes fantastic cookies and requires a great amount of fun since it makes so many. You need a huge bowl, or even two, and you need to have a production-line process to cook them, which is a great caper. Unlike lesser recipes, you won't eat them all in the first evening either.

This is not a full recipe's worth

EMACS Cookies

Cream together:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar

For people outside North America this is even more fun, since we measure butter by weight and have no idea how much a cupful is. Great fun cramming it into a measuring cup and scraping it back out. (Or you could find an online converter.)


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Mix together in a separate bowl:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 5 cups oatmeal powderized (put small amounts of oatmeal in blender until it turns to powder. Measure out 5 cups of oatmeal and only "powderize" that, NOT 5 cups "powderized" oatmeal)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda

That's right — 9 (nine) cups of flour-oid ingredients. Do you see where this is going?


  • All of the above

This actually requires a fair amount of muscle-power and will make a hilarious mess if your bowl is too small. (Your bowl will always be too small.)


  • 24 oz. bag of chocolate chips and
  • 1 finely grated 8 oz Hershey bar (plain)

Rubbish; you can't get that many chocolate chips over here and Hershey's is horrible chocolate. Replace this with 32oz of the best chocolate you can afford. Chop it up fairly finely. You'll end up with plenty of chocolate powder as if you'd grated some of it. Try to avoid chocolate containing palm oil as it is a sign of cost-cutting and harms orangutans.


  • 3 cups chopped nuts (any kind)

Any kind indeed. Tosh! Only use high quality nuts. You're spending time here. This is a performance. Don't skimp. The Devil takes those who use peanuts.

Bake on greased cookie sheet (make golf ball sized balls) and bake about two inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Makes 112.

That's 350 Fahrenheit of course. And to be honest I've never got over a hundred cookies. It comes close though.

I use four baking sheets and a cooling rack. Fill one baking sheet, put it in the oven and set the timer for four minutes. When that time is up put the next sheet in and set the timer for another four minutes. Next time around you'll take the original sheet out and put a new one in. Leave that sheet cooling for one cycle and then transfer to the cooling rack so you can use it again. The cooling rack can contain a few baking-sheets-worth of cookies but you'll eventually have to decant them elsewhere. When they come off the baking sheet they are still very soft but as the chocolate sets they become more handlable.

Of course you can make a half-size batch, but where's the fun in that?

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