It pains me to say this (because I'm never ready for it), but the holidays are just around the corner. Now is the time to start your shopping -- unless you're one of those well organized
freaks types who do Christmas in July shopping -- I'm lucky if I can manage Black Friday once or twice a decade.
Here's a good place to start if you've got an aspiring baker on your list...or maybe you're just starting out yourself. The Cookiepedia, written by by Stacy Adimando, and photographed by Tara Striano, gives you the rundown on all the basic cookie types, with some "fancies" mixed in.
The book opens with a fun quote by Robert Fulghum (author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten -- among other titles):
"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap."
I like that this book is set up in sections by cookie type. It starts off with "The ABCs of Cookie Baking," introducing you to Kitchen Tools, Cookie Speak, and Fun with Decorating, then moves on to Buttery Cookies, Chocolaty Cookies, Fancy Cookies, Fruity Cookies, Spicy Cookies, and Nutty and Seedy Cookies, wrapping up with an Index. Each section features at least seven cookie options.
Another nice detail to this book is that it's in hard cover form and spiral bound, so you can easily flip it open to the recipe you are working on and don't have to worry about it closing on you or having to anchor it with something.
Much like the bulls-eye notes in the margins of all the For Dummies books, Stacy provides tips highlighted by a gold ribbon for many of the recipes. Here you will find information about what chilling or resting the dough will do for a particular cookie, how the dough will respond to being baked on parchment rather than a Silpat, how not to squish your dough when slicing from a log, etc. She even provides a NOTES section by each recipe so you can record your own observations or ideas for how to make it your own.
Although my brain can't process the flavor of a Green Tea cookie, that's one recipe in the Spicy section that I can't wait to try. I have a set of fall cookie cutters with different leaves I haven't had occasion to use yet. Maybe I'll ice some veins onto the leaves. Look how cute they are in the bottom center block ...
... and don't get me started on the Cornmeal Cookies with rosemary on the right. I can't believe I have resisted jumping on those for this long!
When I first got word from Eric over at Quirk Books about reviewing this cookbook, he mentioned that Snickerdoodles were his personal favorite. He was horrified to hear that I had never eaten one before, much less made them, so I promised to mix up a batch of Stacy's recipe.
Here are hers :
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grease several cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper. Set aside. Next sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set it aside as well.
- Cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed for several minutes until they're light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the flour mixture in two batches, making sure the first half is incorporated before adding the second. Stop when the second batch is fully combined.
- Stir together cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Roll 1-inch balls of dough into the mixture. Place them on the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart, or slightly more if you think you've had a heavy hand. Flatten the balls of dough slightly with the palm of your hand.
- Bake the cookies 9 to 10 minutes, if you like them chewy, or 12 to 13 minutes, if you prefer crispy. Cool the sheets on wire racks for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies directly onto the racks to let them finish cooling.
I followed Stacy's recipe - with the exception of salted butter. I have unsalted butter buried in the freezer somewhere but didn't want to wait long enough for it to thaw, so I used salted butter and reduced the amount of salt called for. I also (of course) increased the cinnamon and vanilla a little. I was shooting for chewy, but they didn't look quite done at 10", so I did go the full 13". They had that perfect chewy texture some cookies cry out for.
OK Eric, how'd I do??
A few other recipes I can't wait to try are the Salt and Pepper cookies (never heard of those), her Lemon Chewies (I'm a sucker for anything with lemon or coconut in it), and OF COURSE, her Almond Biscotti. There's nothing better in the morning than a hot cup of coffee (preferably Dunkin Donuts) and a couple of crunchy biscotti to dunk!
See how pretty those are? If you pick up a copy of the cookbook, you can make batches to bundle with a pretty holiday ribbon to give out as gifts. And if you're super nice, you'll include a Dunkies gift card with mine. ;)
Leave a comment telling everyone about your favorite cookie - what's it called, what's the predominant flavor if something unusual, the texture, why it's your favorite, etc. Like Hye Thyme Cafe on Facebook Follow Hye Thyme Cafe on Twitter Follow Hye Thyme Cafe via Google Friends Connect (see at right) Follow Quirk Books on Facebook Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave link as a comment below Tweet this giveaway and leave link as a comment below
"Thanks" to Stacy for some great recipes and to Quirk Books for providing me with a review copy. (They provided me with the book and photos, but my opinions are strictly my own. I am not otherwise being compensated for this post.)
Winner selected via the Random.org random sequence generator. Omitting my own two comments, the winning entry was #4, making CookieBaker the lucky winner.