It’s that time of year again when we start to think about heavy-duty cooking and baking for friends and family. We plan the Thanksgiving menu (if you hail from the US) and the Christmas meal and we even consider a nice bit of baking.
Somehow the holiday season brings out the Martha Stewart or Delia Smith in so many of us. We might shy away from a rolling pin for much of the year but I guess it’s the warm cosiness of the winter kitchen that encourages us to have a go.
Cookies are biscuits. That’s to say a biscuit is to the British what a cookie is to an American and an American biscuit is a British scone. The word Cookie is derived from the Dutch word Koekja meaning small cake. Cookie-making was taken to America by European emigrants and took off in a big way. Perhaps the pioneers found it more practical to make thin, quickly-baked cookies than more elaborate cakes as they travelled across the uncharted wilderness.
The Golden Book of Cookies is just about the most magical cookbook I have seen since the last Golden cookbook by Apple Press. Last time it was The Golden Book of Chocolate and this new volume is just as gorgeous. It’s a mammoth 700-page work which shimmers with gold edges and belly jacket. It oozes old-fashioned quality and charm but it isn’t an ornament. This is a book to be used.
The chapters are divided by type of cookie, starting with Cut Out Cookies, finishing with Tartlets and Tea Cakes, and considering every other conceivable cookie in-between. There are 330 recipes so there can be few that have been overlooked.
This book is impressive and engaging. Each cookie has a page for its recipe and another full page picture. I love this format. It gives confidence to the novice baker and plenty of new ideas to the practised cook. The recipes are clear and the level of difficulty is indicated (none of these are difficult to make – they are just cookies).
My favourite Cut Out cookies from this collection (to be honest I have a few) are Cardamom Stars. These are ideal at the end of an Asian meal. Just serve with a cup of tea for a light but exotic finish. Cookies are made in advance so they are dinner-party stress-busters. The version here is star-shaped but the authors won’t know if you use any other shape. A glass tumbler is a good stand-by cutter.
Cranberry and Pecan Squares are very festive but simple to make. A box of these would make a lovely gift for a foodie. Find a decorative tin or box and get the kids to give you a hand in the kitchen. Gingerbread People (they were only ever gingerbread men when I was small but let’s be PC) will be enjoyed by the little ones. They can do the icing.
If you are a lover of a Macaroon then The Golden Book of Cookies is for you. There are more than a dozen recipes here including chocolate-glazed, Sicilian, with nuts, with fruit, and with spice. Be cautious when eating macaroons. It’s easy to over-indulge and you’ll want to leave room for some brownies.
The Golden Book of Cookies is a sumptuous tome of gift quality. This would be well received by any food lover, enthusiastic baker or cookbook collector. It’s a joy to read and to use. A real stunner!
The Golden Book of Cookies
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018