Judy’s Earthquake Cookies: They’ll Make You Tremble

Two months ago we learned that we had to travel to Baltimore for a funeral of a great-grandmother. Talking about death with my kids is like pulling the scabs off wounds–they immediately bring the conversation back to my mom’s death.  They still can’t really understand why she had to die so young.  However, that made it easier to then turn the conversation around and talk about their great grandmother’s full life.  Remarkably, she left a family legacy of 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

To brighten the mood and change the conversation, I told my daughter that I was going to try to bake instead of cook.  I decided to bake Judy’s Earthquake Cookies!  These cookies always graced the table for dessert on special occasions (alongside Mom’s famous Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf of course).  Mom would pre-bake the cookies and keep them stowed away in our large freezer in the back of the kitchen, hidden in the way back under layers and layers of wax paper and tin foil in her huge red round tin can.  If you’re reading this blog consistently, you can probably draw a near perfect diagram of the shelves in our back freezer by now.  They’d be jam-packed with red tins full of earthquake cookies stowed next to all of the ball jars of mystery marinade and tin-foil wrapped Banana Chocolate Chip Loaves.  Yum! I would always steal a couple of the cookies and rearrange the others hoping not to get caught– that’s hard to accomplish without leaving a trail of powdered sugar everywhere.  I actually think it became a game between us.  Mom would obviously let me help her prepare and bake the cookies but, she’d always make it a point to say, “don’t take any until dessert.”  To me, “don’t “ meant “do” and of course I wouldn’t be able to wait DAYS knowing they were sitting in the freezer untouched.

Smell that chocolate and butter bubbling on the stove

One of the best parts of this cookie is the name.  If you tell any child its name, their eyes widen and, thinking it’s a science experiment with baking soda and vinegar, they immediately want to offer their help along with a slew of questions!  They usually want to know why the cookies are called Earthquake Cookies.  Then you can get into an entire discussion about the cracks in the cookies when they bake which are similar to the faults in the ground along which an earth quakes.

Making the cookies. It's like playing with play dough.

During the prep process  rolling the cool fudge cookie dough in the powdered sugar is so much fun.  I was able to make an entire afternoon play dough activity out of the “roll out and powder” command. The key to making the roll out part work is to plan and make the batter ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge over night to harden. For some reason, I thought 2-3 hours worth of cooling in the fridge would be ample time for the batter to harden.  Again, I should’ve listened to what mom wrote in the recipe: Leave the batter in overnight to cool! Unfortunately, as we were half way through rolling the batter into balls, it started to lose all maleability and stuck to our hands like glue–our game was lost. Another lesson learned the hard way.   The cooler the dough, the easier it is to shape and roll into cookies.

We made two big batches and LOVED, as I did as a kid, watching them rise high and crack open in the oven.  Make sure the cookies are heavily coated with the confectioner’s sugar for more intense cracks.  And, as you probably guessed, there were about half a dozen cookies eaten out of the shoebox during the car ride down to Baltimore.  They’re simply that good.

Fudge balls awaiting their oven "quake"

Cookies post oven "quake"




  1. yum

  2. This looks so good, but looks like the most delicious and the most “Off my diet” cookie:)

  3. I love these cookies. I think your name is the coolest name for them that I’ve heard.:) I think I’m going to call them that now.:)

  4. These are very delicious cookies, and we love them!
    And I really like the name you gave them !:)

  5. They look delicious! I love these kinds of cookies. I might have to whip up a batch this week. Thanks for sharing on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

    • Kim McCallie » they’re great. make sure you keep the batter in for at least 4 hours before you roll it in confectioner’s sugar. they’re so tasty ad equally as pretty!

  6. What a great way to brighten a mood! These look delicious! Thanks for sharing at Mrs Foxs Sweet Party 🙂

  7. What a great name for these amazing looking cookies! I’ve saved your recipe and look forward to trying them out.

    • Bella Manu » great, let me know how they taste. They really do steal the attention because they looks spectacular. But, then when you eat one, you’ll want to eat 10 mote! happy holidays

  8. My aunt used to make these when I was a kid! I loved them!

  9. Wow, these look amazing! Stopping over from Ginger Snap’s link party. Pinning and making these ASAP! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. I love the name of these cookies! I’m from the SF Bay Area so I know a thing or two about earthquakes 😉

    Found your blog through A Well-Seasoned Life’s link up. Looking forward to visiting more!

  11. You cookies sound wonderful. Sorry abotu your Grandmother and the conversation you had to have with your cjildren. Such a difficult one. But it’s so cool that you pass on the traditions and memories and keep your Mom’s spirit alive!

  12. Ooh these look delic! I love your blog, it’s so cute! I am your newest follower. Can’t wait to browse the rest of the blog. I’d love it if you could follow me back and show my blog some love!! Thanks for sharing

  13. My batter doesnot look half as dark as yours. Have yet to bake the cookies, trying to figure our a remedy, perhaps adding some high quality cocoa powder. I used 4 oz chocolate perhaps not enough?? thoufghts

    • MKF » i’m thinking it has to do with the cocoa you used….. did you let it sit in the fridge for a while?

  14. Hi I’m thinking of making these just wondering how much 4 squares of cocolate is

  15. Creating fun and easy Christmas Cookie platters | Communities Digital News » great tip, thanks so much!


  1. […] I’m finally starting to enjoy what mom tried to pass on to me during my youth.   We decided Earthquake cookies were the easiest recipe to make and immediately went on a scavenger hunt throughout the kitchen to […]

  2. […] where I got this baking itch.  Mom was celebrated for her seemingly complicated desserts, save the Earthquake Cookies and Banana Chocolate Chip loaf.  She’d whip out the three-layer tortes or the hazelnut […]

  3. […] I next browsed through her recipes, and it didn’t take me very long to choose her beautiful “Earthquake Cookies“.  Considering the fact that while living for one year in Los Angeles we didn’t have a single earthquake, but the very week we moved back to Oklahoma the earth shook  three days in a row,  I felt these cookies were the perfect choice!   JUDY’S EARTHQUAKE COOKIES (from My Judy the Foodie) […]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP ( doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP ( and so is spam.

  4. […] intimidating. But, after a thorough review, I realized they’re probably easier to bake than Mom’s Earthquake Cookies or her Black  Bottoms Cupcakes (both of which I can now make with my eyes […]

  5. […] where I got this baking itch.  Mom was celebrated for her seemingly complicated desserts, save the Earthquake Cookies and Banana Chocolate Chip loaf.  She’d whip out the three-layer tortes or the hazelnut […]

  6. […] I can now bake Mom’s amazing Earthquake Cookies with my eyes closed, a simple quick oats cookie recipe has been […]

  7. […] where I got this baking itch.  Mom was celebrated for her seemingly complicated desserts, save the Earthquake Cookies and Banana Chocolate Chip loaf.  She’d whip out the three-layer tortes or the hazelnut […]

  8. […] Hammered 3-Tier Serving Rack to showcase the treats from my afternoon of baking: black bottoms, earthquake cookies and lemon […]

  9. […] Earthquake cookies- during the holidays you can find these at specialty stores that sell cookies. […]

  10. […] Earthquake cookies– during the holidays you can find these at specialty stores that sell cookies. […]

Speak Your Mind