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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Cookiepedia: A Book Review and Give Away

The nice people at Quirk Books recently asked me to review a new cookbook and of course I jumped at the chance.

I love cookbooks...and I love cookies, so why would I not want to take a sneak peek of a publication called the Cookiepedia! They also are giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader. Stick around to the end to find out how to enter!



The book is filled with the author's favorite cookies and I think that's a good sign. I like cookbooks that contains recipes that you feel like someone has actually tried! The cookies are grouped in categories that remind me of the way I class cookies - nutty, chocolately, fancy!



Another major plus of this book is that there is at least one picture of each and every cookie. I tell you what...it makes it hard to choose which one to bake!


I really love the chatty descriptions of each cookie and this one in particular gives you the flavor and theme of this whole book. Although the title suggest an encyclopedia of cookies, it is more like browsing through a personal diary of the author's cookie memories. I think after reading her lead in to these Pistachio Butter Cookies I might like to start a little history of my own with them!


I had a really hard time narrowing down one particular cookie to try for this review, so I didn't! I tried three :-)

The first one I attempted was from the Chocolately Chapter. Mint Thins are Thin Mint wannabes and were supposed to be dipped in chocolate per the recipe. I ended up kind of flubbing (totally my fault) the dipping chocolate and ended up with more of a mint ganache filling. So I "made do" and did sandwich cookies instead. Even with my boo boo these were wonderful.



Mint Thins
Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon peppermint flavor


1. Cream the butter until it’s light and fluffy.
Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing,
stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as
needed. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
Add the flour mixture by halves, beating to
incorporate after each addition.

2. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface
and form it into a disk with your hands. Split
the disk in half and place them in the fridge
to firm up for 1 hour.

3.Preheat oven to 350°F. Working on a floured
surface (you’ll need
a decent amount, since the dough is sticky),
roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Shape the
cookies using
a 1-1/2-inch round cutter and
place them on a
parchment-paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for
10 to 12 minutes, then let cool
completely.

4. Break up the chocolate into a bowl and set it
over a small pot of simmering water (make sure
the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Add the butter
and the peppermint flavor and stir the mixture
steadily until it’s fully melted and looks glossy and
smooth. Remove the bowl and let the chocolate
cool slightly.

5. One by one, drop the cookies in the chocolate,
then scoop them out with a fork to let the excess
drip off. (Tap the cookies against the side of the
bowl to help drain the extra chocolate.) Move
them carefully to a wire rack or parchment-paperlined
baking sheet. When they’re all coated, move
the sheet to the refrigerator or freezer to set.

The next cookie I tried because I absolutely love them and decided this was the perfect excuse to whip up a batch. I've had my own long history with this cookie, the French Macaron. The recipe was easy to follow and not as fussy as some I've seen. I ate each and every one of them myself since Randy isn't too crazy about the overwhelming almondness of them. Only one thing I can say was a little off about this recipe..it made way more than it said it would..total bonus. Stacy offers several variations, but I chose to do the standard variety.

French Macarons
Shells:
1 cup almond meal or finely ground blanched almonds

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cups sugar 3 egg whites

Filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons almond meal or ground, blanched almonds

1. First make the shells: Grind the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor until superfine. Sift the mixture, tossing out any big pieces left behind.


2. Whip the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Bump up the speed to medium and slowly stream in the sugar, pausing to let it incorporate, until the egg whites form soft to medium peaks. You can test this by pulling a spoon through the egg whites-the peak should stick almost straight up, but then droop downward at the end. Remove the bowl and gently fold in the almond meal mixture a little at a time.


3. Fit a pastry bag with a large, plain tip. Fill the bag about halfway with the macaron batter. Working on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, pipe small disks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches( about 2 inches apart. don't worry if the dough seems difficult to pipe at first-it will soften as you go. Set the piped creations aside for 30 minutes for the tops to set slightly. When you've got a few minutes to go, preheat oven to 375°.


4. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the oven down to 300° for the last 5 minutes. The cookies will taste delicious now, but if you plan to fill them, wait until they've cooled.


5. To make the filling: Beat the butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and almond meal and mix until they're combined. Pair up the cooled macarons, matching by similar size. Spread a thin layer of filling (about 1/8 inch thick) onto one flat side of pair. Create a sandwich with the other macaron.


And finally, my third try..a very simple but very tasty cookie - Italian Biscuits or S cookies! I especially like this one because its my initial. Absolutely perfect for coffee or tea. Its really sturdy. Aren't they the cutest little Sssss?



Italian Biscuits
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups plus
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 eggs

1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set it aside.

2. With a mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed for a minute. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, continuing to mix on medium until they're combined. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the cooled butter and vanilla.

3. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.

4. Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them between your fingers into ropes about 5 inches long. Gently form the ropes into S shapes. Place cookies on sheets about 2 inches from one another. Let them sit for 15 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°.

5. Bake cookies for 15 to 18 minutes, until they're golden brown and delicious.


I loved reviewing this little book and I think it would make a great addition to anyone's cookbook collection. With Christmas only weeks away this would be great in someone's stocking! It's available at Amazon and other fine book stores.

GIVEAWAY!

One lucky reader may also get a free copy. Nothing tricky...just leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you by Sunday, December 11th at 12pm PST and I will randomly pick a winner to be announced later the same day.

Good Luck!

Participating this week in:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

17 comments:

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

I'm gonna try the S cookies, they sound great! Thanks for a chance at the fun give-away Suzy, I love cookies:@)
itsworthalook - at - gmail.com

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook said...

Suzy, I think your boo boo was a great idea, they look amazing as a sandwich cookie! The macarons and the S's look tasty, too!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Bravo, Suzy, your macarons are picture perfect. They are definitely not the easiest cookie to make. What may have been a boo boo turned into a beautiful chocolate cookie as well. Nice book review.

Beansieleigh said...

Oh, ANYBODY who knows me, KNOWS I love baking cookies!! Please do count me in for this giveaway, and thanks for sharing these recipes! The Mint Thins sound good, and I think I just may try these! ~tina

Foley said...

You don't see to many cookbooks that actually has a photo of each recipe! Double Plus for me..
You did a great job on the macarons, have always wanted to try these, maybe now I will get the nerve. Then thin mints look delicous and even the 'S' cookies. Great post...

Anonymous said...

Looks & sounds like an interesting cookbook; even tho I don't bake much anymore, I'm sure I will get to sample some of the cookie recipes from my talented daughter!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Wow, they all look delicious, Suzy! I'm a big fan of chocolate so those really caught my eye but I love the S cookies for obvious reasons too :)

Great review and this looks like a great cookbook too!

suburban prep said...

Yummy the cookies look so wonderful.
I am Maureen
msgb245 at gmail dot com

I would love to be included.

Melinda said...

Can't wait to try those mint ones - yummo!

Lisa said...

The book looks fantastic, and your cookies look double fantastic, so if these yummy looking cookies are from that book..I would love it! :)

Little Mommy said...

Yumm! Do I need this book or what? Glad to be your newest follower!

ikkinlala said...

The cookies look great (and I love the idea of pistachio butter cookies, too)! I'd love to enter if Canadians may.

ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

Kathleen said...

They look delicious! I think I'll have the chocolate!
Toss my name in, and thanks for the chance!

Debbie@Mountain Breaths said...

Suzy, I haven't met a cookie I didn't like! May I have one of each? The cookbook looks like one I would enjoy having in my collection. Thanks for the review!

Mrs. C said...

Great ideas and I'll take a handful of each! The Italian cookies look just like the ones my grandmother made-perfect! Thanks for the memories and a chance to win!

Debbie@Mountain Breaths said...

Suzy, I received your email that I won!! Let the baking begin :-) Thank you!

Denise said...

I love the S Shaped cookies. They are so charming and remind me of childhood baking.

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