35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Edit: Changed to 5 stars, read bottom.
I bought this book in Tina's store in NY within an hour of trying one of her cookies. A food tour took us by Milk & Cookies where we sampled Tina's amazing chocolate chip cookies (which I'd still recommend to anyone!). The book is incredibly disappointing.
I bake a lot, and while I've made mistakes before, I've tried several times to use this book and am sure I didn't make any mistakes in following directions EVERY time. I also used a scale to measure ingredients, and keep premium ingredients in my house.
Like others here, I agree the measurements are off. The first recipe I tried was the one that made me buy the book in the first place: the chocolate chip cookie. And like others, mine went wide and flat, delicious, but with a poor texture. There's no shortage of tasty cookie recipes. Funny thing about mixing fat, flour, and sugar in large quantities, it generally tastes good. I bought the book to hit that texture and balance I'd never seen in a cookie before.
And like others, I'm left to experiment. I increased the flour, and they're still unsatisfactory. I increased it even further, and they're STARTING to get closer to where I want them to be. I could also try processing the oats less, decreasing the butter, adding additional oats at the end to help with structure and chewiness, or kneading the dough longer (something borderline unheard of with quick breads). I could try all these things and more. I didn't buy the book to waste ingredients and guess at the missing parts to a recipe. I bought the book to replicate the cookies that sold me on the book in the first place. I had no shortage of "fun ideas" for baking. This book provides little more than a finger pointing in the general direction for success.
I'm giving it two stars because the pictures are enticing, there are some incredibly good ideas for cookies (despite the passive aggressive traps that are the inaccurate measurements), I haven't tried all the recipes (maybe there are more accurate ones, but from fellow reviewers, it doesn't look that way), and because the book is all around laid out very smartly, with each cookie in its own "family," an additional section on cookie-related recipes, and a smart bit of advice in the front that the author seemed to completely ignore.
I paid just under full price for the book. It was $24.95 and the tour I was on gave me a 10% off coupon. I would honestly not buy this book even if it were $5. I've already wasted well over $30 in ingredients for cookies unsatisfactory to present to co-workers or friends. Even in my home, each bite is bitter with the wasted potential of this book.
Edit 11/13/11: I am changing this from 2 to 5 stars. I've had the book for some time now, and had a chance to go through many of the recipes. I think I found what was causing them to go flat for everyone, and it's odd that it isn't emphasized more in the book. When it says to whip the butter to "light and creamy," they really mean whip the bejesus out of it. I put it on a Kitchen Aid mixer with the whisk attachment and just leave it on for a good 5-6 minutes on medium. I discovered this when I got distracted and left it on for far longer than I usually do; I had no idea butter could take on that texture, it reminded me of whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. I guess that "thicker" butter holds everything together long enough for the flour to do its job in the oven, versus going to liquid too soon and causing the whole structure to collapse (pure conjecture). I've made the chocolate chip cookie recipe 6 times now, and they've always gone flat and wide until I found this technique out, and the past two times they've been spot on examples of Tina's shop. Anyways, that's the first crucial thing that should be bolded in her print. As for the other, I suppose not overworking the dough. She says to knead it, but I ignore her, and lightly work the dry into the wet until just combined. That one is more common baking knowledge, but I just wanted to mention it.
So, bottom line: whip the butter! I haven't done every recipe yet, but I've done a few from each chapter and this one change is when everything started to work correctly.
12FEB12 update: Also don't do too small scoops. I tried to stretch a batch out further and they didn't collapse, but they lack that thick chewy texture (this applies to the peanut butter cookies as well). So just to recap: whip the butter thick!, don't overwork the dough, and be generous with your scoops (about 2 Tablespoons).