Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season
Cookbook Overviews , Holidays / December 13, 2018

It’s Christmas cookie time! I love making Christmas cookies, and I make the same family favorites every year. But I like to try at least one new cookie, and if I could just bake all day long in December I would make tons of different types of cookies. Since I enjoy Christmas baking so much, I am super excited to try out a new recipe or two from Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden. This cookbook is separated into the following chapters: Very Merry Classics, Cookie Exchange Party, Warm Holiday Spice, Around the World, Holiday Confections, and Decorated Delights. I think creating chapter ideas would be one of the hardest parts of writing a cookbook! The Around the World cookies look especially interesting. The author grew up in Sweden, so some of these cookies are her childhood favorites. In addition, there are recipes from other European countries and even a South American treat. I will be back tomorrow to share a Holiday Cookie recipe!

My Verdict: Clean Sweets
Cookbook Overviews / September 10, 2018

Here’s my verdict for Clean Sweets: Simple High-Protein Desserts for One by Arman Liew. To Read:  Yes, at least the section on alternative ingredients. This is a small cookbook, and there’s not a lot to read. The book starts with the author’s story of creating his blog, which led to this cookbook. Following that, is the most useful section, which explains the various categories of ingredients used in the recipes and how to use alternative ingredients. For example, if a recipe calls for a granulated sugar, you could use regular sugar, coconut sugar, granulated stevia, or several other choices. Since each recipe allows for a lot of substitution of ingredients, this info is quite useful. To Look At: Yes. There are gorgeous photos for each recipe. Unfortunately, the photos look so good and the taste of the desserts don’t necessarily live up to the photos. To Cook From: Maybe. If you are trying to eat desserts while avoiding certain ingredients, this cookbook can certainly be useful. Just don’t expect these desserts to taste exactly like the full-sugar, full-fat, non-vegan versions. I made the Confetti Breakfast Blondie, and the results were similar to the Deep Dish Skillet Brownie. Not great. Many of…

Clean Sweets: Simple, High-Protein Desserts for One
Cookbook Overviews / September 4, 2018

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I love when I can convince myself that the sweet treats I eat are also healthy. Of course, when I saw Clean Sweets: Simple High-Protein Desserts for One by Arman Liew at the library, I had to pick it up. I have to admit, cooking just for myself (instead of making sure everyone in the family is happy) sounded like a nice break also. Author Arman Liew is the creator of  The Big Man’s World blog. He started out writing about travels and his recipe experiments; he lost a lot of weight and wanted to eat dessert but stay healthy. Eventually, his recipes were so popular they became the main focus of the blog. Clean Sweets contains recipes for breakfast, mug cakes, cookies, frozen treats, and more. All of the recipes have gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, and paleo options. I don’t follow any of those diets, but I find it doesn’t hurt to leave out wheat and sugar on occasion. I haven’t read the whole book yet, but I did skim and all the recipes look delicious. I will report back later this week!    

My Verdict: Martha Stewart’s Cookies
Cookbook Reviews / August 31, 2018

Here’s my verdict for Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and Share. To Read: Sure. There’s not a lot to read, just short descriptions of each cookie. After the recipes, there is a tips section that has pretty helpful information. And since this is Martha Stewart, there are even some craft projects that will help you with packaging and sharing your cookies. To Look At: Yes. Each recipe is accompanied by a photo. The tips section also has great photos to clearly demonstrate the steps for making each type of a cookie. Even if you aren’t crafty, the packaging section has some nice photos that can give you ideas of how to present your cookies. To Cook From: I think so. The Mini Black-and-White Cookies were not a success, but the Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies were. Also, I have made the Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies at Christmas for years, and they are a family favorite. With 175 recipes in this book, I doubt everyone is going to be a winner, but there were many more recipes that looked worth trying. I did like the way this cookbook was set up better than Dorie’s Cookies, which had some…

Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and Share
Cookbook Overviews / August 27, 2018

I mentioned before that I am a big Martha Stewart fan, so my husband picked this cookbook up for me at a used bookstore. Martha Stewart Living Magazine published this book in 2008. Martha Stewart’s magazine also put out cookbooks covering cakes, cupcakes, and pies. That’s a lot of dessert testing! I thought it would be interesting to compare this book to Dorie’s Cookies. I think the biggest problem with this cookbook, which includes 175 recipes, will be choosing which cookies to try. I will probably have to resort to my tried and true method of letting my family members pick something. I did already try out one of the chocolate chip cookie recipes, which was really good, so I will share that later this week. But I really one to try out something a little more exciting. Hope everyone has a good Monday, and I’ll be back with some recipes later this week.  

My Verdict: Dorie’s Cookies
Cookbook Reviews / June 1, 2018

Here’s my verdict on Dorie’s Cookies. To Read: Yes. I’m not done reading yet because there are so many recipes. Each recipe has a good story and valuable baking tips you won’t want to miss. To Look At: Yes, the photography is by Davide Luciano, and he does a good job of highlighting these cookies. Each recipe has a photo, which I really appreciate. Although the descriptions of the the cookies are well-written, if you are just flipping through and trying to pick out a cookie you wanted to make, the photos will really help. To Cook From: Yes! Each recipe is really well-detailed, with extra tips regarding ingredients and cooking methods. I think if you closely follow all the tips (which I didn’t very well with the Strawberry Shortcake Cookies), you will have success every time. While, I did really love this cookbook, I had a couple of minor critiques. First, a lot of these cookie recipes were what I would call old-fashioned. There are a lot of nuts, dried fruit, ginger, and other ingredients that might not go over great with kids. They sound yummy to me, but probably wouldn’t be a big hit with the family. Second, her…

Tips for Baking Yummy Cookies
Cooking Tips / May 31, 2018

Here are some baking tips from Dorie’s Cookie’s along with a few of my own thoughts. Give your oven plenty of time to preheat. Dorie suggests that you check the temperature with an oven thermometer (one that you buy, not the one already on your oven), and that you let it continue to heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. I have a pretty new oven, so I haven’t taken the extra step of buying a thermometer. But it’s probably a good idea. Use inexpensive rimmed baking sheets, also known as half sheet or jelly roll pans. I definitely agree with this. Because they are inexpensive, you can have plenty on hand when you want to do holiday baking, and they can be used for so many things besides baking cookies. Line those baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. I have a couple of the silicone mats, which I love, but be careful because I have torn my when I was cutting bar cookies still in the pan. Also, my husband started buying pre-cut parchment sheets, instead of rolls of parchment paper. So convenient! She suggests you have three sizes of cookie (or ice cream) scoops on hand:…

Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops
Recipes / May 30, 2018

I told you that we take brownies seriously in my family. Well, here are some brownies disguised as cookies. Delicious! Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops Makes about 20 cookies 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into about 10 pieces 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate 3/4 cup sugar 2 cold large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 3/4 cup all-purpose flour Powdered sugar, for dredging Coarsely chop 6 ounces of the chocolate and scatter it over the butter. Finely chop the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and set it aside. Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate with the butter. (I just do this in the microwave.) Stir sugar into the melted chocolate and butter. One by one, add the eggs, whisking for a minute or two after each egg. Whisk in the vanilla and the salt, and then the flour. Stir in the finely chopped chocolate. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Put some powdered sugar in a bowl. Using a medium scoop, scoop out level portions of dough or use a tablespoon to get rounded spoonfuls. Roll each into a…

Bonus Recipe: Classic Brownies
Recipes / May 26, 2018

I promised in my intro to Dorie’s Cookies, that I would share her brownie recipe. We take brownies seriously in our house, and our favorite recipe is Barefoot Contessa’s. The Contessa’s brownies manage to be super rich and fluffy all at the same time. I will say Dorie’s brownies are more on the traditional, fudgy side, but still satisfied our brownie cravings. In our house brownies don’t have nuts, and they certainly don’t have icing. You could add 1 cup of chopped walnuts to this recipe if you like, but if you want icing you’re on your own. Classic Brownies 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 3/4 cup sugar 2 cold large eggs 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/3 cup all-purpose flour Makes 16 brownies Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt the butter and the chocolate together. Stir in the sugar. When the sugar is incorporated, beat the eggs in one at a time. Stir in the salt, followed by the vanilla. Add the flour all at once and gently stir and fold it in. Scrape the batter into…

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Recipes / May 24, 2018

I’m running a little behind this week, and Dorie’s Cookies is a big book. Consequently, I think I am going to try another recipe or two, and then give my review at the end of next week. Today’s cookie would be perfect for Memorial Day get-togethers. It’s really cute and the red strawberries look great with Patriotic decorations. Strawberry Shortcake Cookies FOR THE CAKES 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of sea salt 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1/3 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM 1 cup very cold heavy cream 2 tablespoons powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract FOR THE TOPPING 8 to 12 ounces strawberries, hulled Makes about 24 shortcakes Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two regular muffin tins or use baker’s spray. To make the cakes, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium for about 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is pale and tripled…

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