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Friday, November 20, 2009

Everything Cookies & Brownies {Cookbook Review}

EverythingCookiesBrowniesCookbook

When my friend, Marye, asked me to review her cookbook I was thrilled to do so.  I got it in the mail and couldn’t wait to get out the flour and my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer and try out a few recipes.

But first, a little background on the author.  I met Marye through Twitter (@maryeaudet) this past spring.  She is a wonderful resource for bouncing food and flavor ideas around with (and I might add an incredible source of Christian encouragement).  She has eight kids in a wide range of ages and lives in an old restored farmhouse in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  She does a lot of food writing and blogs at Baking Delights on a regular basis as well as other places as listed on her home page.

The impression I get from this book is that her whole approach comes from her own experience as a mom.  In other words, ladies, this is a practical cookbook written by a mom as a wonderful resource for moms. 

“Don’t wait for a rainy day to make some cookies.  Choose a recipe, gather your family together, and enjoy some quality time while creating a mouth-watering snack.”

The cookbook starts off with a chapter of “Cookie Baking Basics” which includes a lot of handy tips (i.e. substituting non-caloric sweeteners, what to do when using a glass pan instead of metal and cookie storage tips) and interesting facts as well.  For instance, did you know that “the very first decorated cookies in history are thought to be from Switzerland”? 

“Knowing how to store and ship cookies makes it easy to send a quick gift or have a cozy snack whenever you want.  Keep the cookie jar full and the family happy by using your freezer to your advantage.”

The remaining chapters (2-16) break down all of the 300 (yes, I said 300) cookie and bar recipes into genres to make them a little easier to find.  Just to give you an idea, some of the chapter titles are All Kinds of Chips, Easy Drop Cookies, Brownies and Bars, No-Bake Cookies, and Kids Can Bake!  There is even an entire chapter dedicated to Cookies for Special Needs (such gluten free and egg/dairy free) which is a great resource for that treat you have to fix for your child’s class when there is that one child with an egg allergy. 

“Storing Gluten-free Treats:  Cookies that are baked without gluten do not have the same storage times as regular cookies.  In fact, gluten-free items are at their best still warm from the oven.  Plan to eat the cookies immediately, or place in the freezer for longer storage.  Warm the cookies a few minutes in the oven and they will taste as fresh as if they were just baked.”

Overall it is a comprehensive resource for cookies and brownies.  I mean, I was amazed and honestly, a little overwhelmed at how this book almost literally takes you through cookies from A to Z.  It is a nice mix of standard recipes that you would recognize, new twists on old standards and new/different things you may have never heard of.  Everything from the most common Chocolate Chip Cookie that’s good comfort food on a rainy afternoon to the specialty Rose  Crackle Cookie that would be the perfect addition to any tea or bridal shower. 

Recipes are laid out to be simple  and concise.  There’s not a lot of fluff.  They are clear and to the point.  It’s pretty no-frills and does not have pictures with the recipes, but just gets right to the point.  Each recipe also includes tips and usually ingredient substitution/ addition/subtraction ideas.  The book is paperback and lies open nicely on your countertop to easily refer back to the recipe as you cook.

In general the ingredient lists are fairly common, but there are some very unique recipe names that would call for some specialty ingredients.  For example you would need loose leave Chai Tea Blend for the Russian Chai Tea Cakes, and you would need mascarpone cheese for the Tiramisu Brownies.  But I think if you were making some of those more specialty recipes, you’d be ready to get those special ingredients. 

Now, I’d like to show you some of my results from the Everything Cookies & Brownies cookbook.

First up, Pecan Pie Bars. 

Now, if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I am not a big nut fan.  However, my daddy is.  And now that my daddy is back in these United States, I am excited to get to cook for him again.  So, I made these Pecan Pie Bars for him.  I also figured that with his experience with pecan pie, that he would be a good judge of how they turned out. 

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From what I could tell, I thought they turned out gorgeous.  And easy… Oh WOW!  Just see for yourself.  Marye has granted me permission to give you this recipe.

Pecan Pie Bars
(yields 36 bars)

Ingredients:

Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (cool room temperature)

Topping:
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
4 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 10” x 15” jelly roll pan with parchment, allowing it to overhand sides and ends slightly.

2.  Stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt.  Cut in 1 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press firmly into the pan.

100_65313.  Bake 20 minutes

4.  Mix together corn syrup, eggs, remaining sugars, melted butter and vanilla; whisk until smooth.  Stir in pecans.  Pour over hot crust.

5.  Bake 25 minutes, or until set.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.

**You can sprinkle 1 cup of chocolate chips over the crust before pouring on the topping for a chocolaty variation.**

Do you see how easy that is???

This is one of those recipes that you can make it once and from then on just be able to look at the ingredient list and go without looking at the directions hardly ever again.  There is nothing better, in my opinion, than a completely from scratch, homemade recipe that you can almost do in your sleep it’s so easy.  And this is one of those. 100_6535

And my daddy?  He tried one and immediately hid them from anyone’s sight.  So, I’d say he liked them pretty well.  And they are more portable than regular pecan pie so he took them out to the deer lease with him the following week where, from what I gather, they were a big hit as well.

I have also made the Chocolate Toffee Cookies.  Now, these are a little more involved as they require some refrigeration.  And certainly these are cookies you make for a little bit of a special occasion when you’re willing to spend a little on ingredients.  But oh, heavens.  SO worth the 1 pound (uh-huh… 1 POUND) of bittersweet chocolate.  They are like a rich brownie in cookie form with little pockets of toffee.  Also known as “heaven in edible form.”

100_6609

Overall I am impressed with the Everything Cookies & Brownies cookbook.  From the easy to read recipes to all the tips sprinkled throughout the entire book about everything from ingredients to methods.  It’s a comprehensive guide to cookies and I believe it would be well used in your kitchen.  I know it will be in mine.

Everything Cookies & Brownies can be purchased through Amazon.

4 Comments:

Hoosier Homemade said...

Great review! Thanks for sharing the recipes!
~Liz

bridget {bake at 350} said...

The cookies you made look fabulous! Sounds like a great book!

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

Those cookies sound delicious... I will have to get a copy of Marye's book!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Wonderful review! It all sounds so good to me - what a wonderful cookbook. And those cookies - yummy!!