Read these cookbooks: “Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season” by Elisabet der Nederlanden (Ten Speed, $20) and “The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies & Bars” by The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen, $35)
By Wendell Brock
Greetings, cookie lovers!
This is your holiday letter from Santa.
I don’t usually make such self-serving observations, since my tummy has been compared to “a bowl full of jelly.” (Ha, ha, ho!)
But I just got a gander at two glorious books of cookie recipes, both with beautiful snowy white covers. So if you are looking for holiday-baking inspiration, you’ll love Elisabet der Nederlanden’s “Holiday Cookies” and America’s Test Kitchen’s “The Perfect Cookie.”
In fact, that latter title, with 250 recipes for cookies, brownies and bars of all kinds, is a year-round, go-to baking encyclopedia to rival Dorie Greenspan’s “Dorie’s Cookies” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35) from last season.
Gather your sprinkles, pastry tubes, cookie sheets and tins, kiddos. The countdown to my Christmas Eve arrival has begun. (Wink, wink.)
Let’s start with “Holiday Cookies.” Dare I say it would be a perfect present for bakers of all ages?
A native of Sweden, der Nederlanden seems to have been crafting cookies all her life. She’s mastered the art of the edible ornament and place card-- from gingerbread to red, green, and white pinwheels to thin and crispy Swedish Pepparkakor – and she has tons of tips on how to decorate, package and store these festive creations.
Who wouldn’t love a tin packed with Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle; Chocolate Caramels with Bourbon and Vanilla; or Stained-Glass Snowflakes to Hang on a tree? (Perhaps you’d like throw in a beard comb to help with all the crumbs I’m going to have in my snowy white beard. Ho, ho, ho!)
While “The Perfect Cookie” has a chapter on Christmas cookies (from cute little Coconut Snowmen to Almond-Spice Christmas Wreaths), it’s veritable compendium of cookie styles for every day of the year.
Drop cookies, slice and bake sweets, sandwich cookies, brownies and blondies, and no-bake confections are all explained here. And just like Santa’s elves, who stay busy building toys 24/7, the editors of America’s Test Kitchen put every recipe through multiple trials, and they include a head note explaining why each one works.
So there you are: two wonderful recipe books to satisfy the cookie lovers on your list. Now if you’ll excuse me. Mrs. Claus just baked up a batch of America’s Test Kitchen’s Gingerbread Brownies. Our merry little, snow-covered cottage is filled with the aroma of spice and chocolate, and I need to grab a snack, a mug of coffee, and get back to work.
Happy baking to all! And to all a good night!
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta-based food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock) .