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The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009 Hardcover – Nov 2 2010

3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Nov. 2 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547328168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547328164
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"It represents a snapshot of American incredible seven decades’ worth of cookies complete with mouthwatering photographs."

----Library Journal, starred

About the Author

Over the course of almost seventy years, Gourmet’s editors won three coveted National Magazine Awards, sixteen James Beard Awards, and an Emmy Award.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jasmine Bradley on July 15 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a unique compilation of recipes that integrate historical data with culinary trends. I love the historical filter through which the book is written, one that uses cookies as a way of detailing American history while highlighting our evolving eating habits. It is a book that people will want to read from cover to cover. However despite the fact that I love the overall concept for this book and think that it is both interesting and informative, in terms of recipes tested I was disappointed. I don't know if I just happened to pick flops, but you'd think that with only one cookie recipe included from each year that all of them would have to meet the criteria of being...well, edible. That being said, I haven't given up completely on this book and would like to try a couple of other recipes before deciding whether or not to relinquish ownership of my copy. Perhaps because the recipes included were printed as they originally appeared in the magazine, I should give the editors more credit for authenticity and leeway for results that may not necessarily be compatible with today's tastes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miss Baker on Sept. 30 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must say this is a very attractively printed cookie book, with beautiful pictures for every single cookie recipe. However, I do find that the recipes are not that great. I have tried several of them, and I happened to have to throw 2 batches out. The others are not great tasting either. I have decided to put this book away and move on with my other cookie books that I have trusted and used.
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Format: Hardcover
Although I'm not a wonder-chef, all of the recipes I've tried (ten so far) have tasted as good as they look. I happen to be lousy at rolling cookie dough, so I use the faster drop method, even if that's not as pretty. I find that the conversational tone of the earlier recipes is easier to follow than the more modern list-style. The historical context given for each recipe is quite interesting; and the Vancouver reviewer writing before me notes that tastes may have changed over time, which is worth noting. All I can say to those who are disappointed is, tweak the recipe a little. Easy adjustments, any ONE of which can change the flavour outcome considerably, include: a bit less sugar, or trying brown sugar, or a lighter molasses, or toasting the nuts first, or using different nuts, or adding more fruit...whatever you might find lacking to your taste in these recipes, is certainly in your power to alter. I just can't imagine having to throw a batch out, unless one let it burn to a crisp!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 79 reviews
123 of 126 people found the following review helpful
A history, with recipes and photos, of the cookie at Gourmet Magazine Oct. 3 2010
By Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a longtime subscriber to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit, I used to tell people that I liked Gourmet for its savory recipes and Bon Appetit for its sweets. This new compilation of the best cookie recipes, decade by decade, from Gourmet confronted me with the fallacy of that statement. Some of my long-time favorite cookie recipes, including strawberry tart cookies and cranberry pistachio biscotti, can be found here. The best part of this book, however, is not the recipes, as good as they are, but the history behind them. The division of the recipes by decades offers glimpses into trends, subscribers, changing culinary tastes and abilities, and, of course, the focus of the magazine itself.

Interestingly, when the magazine was first published in 1940s and people baked more than they do today, the cookie recipes were much more simple, with tastes that highlighted a few ingredients: butter, nuts, spices. Even in the 1950s, when baking ingredients were more available, the cookies remained somewhat homey and classic, with gingerbread men, lace cookies, and sesame-seed-coated queen's biscuits taking center stage. In the 1960s, however, Gourmet's cookies started taking on a more international note; as the editors note, commercialized air travel and growing national unrest led to more daring recipes. As the book states, "not a single one of the four cookie recipes that appeared in Gourmet in 1963 was of American origin." With this new internationalism came other recipes with more sophisticated lists of ingredients and flavors. By jumping ahead to the 2000s, Gourmet's final decade, one can see how much American tastes have changed: many of the cookies are classics with gourmet twists that make them look more like professionally baked treats than homemade lunch box snacks. Because the book contains a full page photograph of each recipe, it is obvious that later recipes focused as much on aesthetics as taste, while most earlier ones were content with a plain appearance.

Because this book contains recipes exactly as they appeared in the magazine (with some recipe notes for clarification), contemporary bakers may be somewhat taken aback by the format in the earlier decades, as their directions are "remarkably casual, a kind of mysterious shorthand that assumes that each reader is an accomplished cook." While I dispute that these early recipes require any sort of advanced experience, they are definitely written out as though one person is describing the process to another, with ingredients not listed separately but as part of the instructions. (Separate lists of ingredients don't appear until 1982, when recipes were "no longer able to count on the readers' experience.") In some ways, I found the earlier recipes easier to follow because I didn't have to worry about going back and forth between adding sugar and reading how much sugar was called for. The amount was right there in the text.

But how are the recipes themselves? Absolutely wonderful. Not a single one of the recipes I tried missed, although, obviously, some recipes, such as the sparkling lemon sandwich cookies, took more time and effort. From the humble honey refrigerator cookies to the sophisticated coconut macadamia shortbread, these recipes will please contemporary palates.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Simply Perfection Nov. 16 2010
By M. Hill - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I love the recipes and cookie photographs in this retrospective of the best cookies published in Gourmet Magazine. The bold graphic design of the photographs is stylish and quite attractive although I see some other reviewers disagree. To have a photograph of each cookie is helpful whether the design choice appeals to everyone or not.

Like most pastry cookbooks there is no nutritional information provided, but I don't think any of us want to know that when we are baking cookies. But if looking for a book that caters to a particular dietary restriction, like vegan or gluten free, etc., this is not the book to buy. The pages are high quality paper and I found spills wiped up well. This hardback book stayed open, laying flat on my countertop no matter what page I turned to, so a cookbook holder was unnecessary.

Included are seventy heavenly recipes from Gourmet Magazine's 68 year history. I have many cookie cookbooks so deciding whether to add another one to the group is dependent upon the recipes, so I am listing all of them here in case others use that method when selecting a cookbook. Cookie recipes in the book include: Cajun Macaroons, Honey Refrigerator Cookies, Scotch Oat Crunchies, Cinnamon Sugar Crisps, Date Bars, Moravian White Christmas Cookies, Old Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies, Jelly Centers, Brandy Snaps, Chocolate Wafers, Navettes Sucrees (Sugar Shuttles,) Palets De Dames, Coconut Bars, Benne Wafers, Biscotti Di Regina (Queen's Biscuits,) Oatmeal Molasses Cookies, Lace Cookies, Brazil Nut Crescents, Gingerbread Men, Pine Nut Macaroons, Brown Butter Cookies, Cottage Cheese Cookies, Curled Wafers, Fig Cookies, Ginger Sugar Cookies, Apricot Chews, Mandelbrot (Chocolate Almond Slices,) Florentines, Galettes De Noel (Deep-Fried Wafers,) Shoe Sole Cookies, Speculaas (Saint Nicholas Cookies,) Dutch Caramel Cashew Cookies, Crescent Cheese Cookies, Kourambiedes (Greek Butter Cookies,) Almond Bolas (Portuguese Almond Cookies,) Lemon Thins, Irish Coffee Crunchies, Bizcochitos (Anise Cookies,) Linzer Bars, Bourbon Balls, Cloudt's Pecan Treats, Chocolate Meringue Biscuits, Spritz (Norwegian Butter Cookies,) Souvaroffs (Butter Cookies with Jam,) Pecan Tassies, Pastelitos De Boda (Bride's Cookies,) Mocha Toffee Bars, Pistachio Tuiles, Cornetti (Almond Cookies,) Mocha Cookies, Jan Hagels (Cinnamon Almond Wafers,) Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, Aunt Sis's Strawberry Tart Cookies, Basler Brunsli (Heart-Shaped Chocolate Almond Spice Cookies,) Coconut Macadamia Shortbread, Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls, Chocolate Coconut Squares, Gianduia Brownies, Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch, Walnut Acorn Cookies, Cranberry Turtle Bars, Scandinavian Rosettes, Biscotti Quadrati Al Miele E Alle Noci (Honey Nut Squares,) Polish Apricot-Filled Cookies, Mini Black and White Cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies, Trios, Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies and Grand Marnier Glazed Pain D'Epice Cookies.

The recipes I prepared are Brown Butter Cookies (amazing,) Mandelbrot (visually beautiful and equally delicious) and Gianduia Brownies (I was intrigued by the addition of Nutella in the batter -- fabulous result.) One of the other reviewers mentioned the Strawberry Tart Cookies so I tried those too. They are perfection and as with the other recipes I tested, a keeper. I will make these recipes again and again and plan to continue working my way through the rest of the book.

A variety of flavors and cookie styles grace the pages which should appeal to cookie lovers of all types. This book would make a great addition to any cookbook library and a welcome gift for both novice and experienced bakers.
67 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Decent recipes... awful design. Nov. 5 2010
By Terra D. Evans - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was really disappointed with this book, being a lifelong gourmet devotee. The recipes and history of each are good, and up to gourmet standards. But the pictures feel like they were just tossed together in a hurry and are not all that appetizing. The reason for the low star level though, is the layout of the book. It is, to be blunt, horrid.

The photos are on the right hand pages and at the top of the left hand page is the title of the recipe and a blurb about it's history. Aside from a very unwelcoming font, all fine. But after the introductory paragraph is a huge chunk of white space, and then the recipe and directions are crammed together in a small and undifferentiated font in the bottom quarter of the page. It is hard to read and even more difficult to follow when trying to actually cook anything. The result is an altogether cold, difficult to use book. I'll probably copy out my favorite recipes onto recipe cards and resell the book.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I love this book ! Nov. 17 2010
By Irene Grimes - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just received this book in the mail a few days ago and it already is one of my favorite cookie books! I have made several cookies out of the book and they all turned out fantastic !

I have read some of the other reviews (some complaining of the photos) and I have to say I totally disagree - the photos clearly and simply illustrate and show off the cookie in question. I like the little blurbs about each cookie (under the title) and I love the layout - the cookies are listed by year. This way, when I want to bake a more simple (but still tasteful) cookie, I choose one from the 40's (when a lot of ingredients where rationed), and when I want to be a bit more extravagant, I choose one from a later decade.

The only thing I would do differently, is making the print of the recipes a bit larger. However, I do like the fact that the ingredients are in bold print - it makes my mis-en-place much easier .....

Overall, I think this is a very successful cookie book !!
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Wow, what horrible design Dec 16 2010
By Marianne - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I love a cookbook I can cuddle up with AND with recipes that work. Here, the recipes might be fantastic and I love the listing in chronological order, but for a working book, the design is horrible with minuscule hard-to-read ingredient lists and instructions at the bottom of the page. It's tempting to take the vast white space between the description and the ingredients and rewrite them so they're legible to work from.

The editors in Gourmet never should have approved this. They must have known better.