The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009

by Gourmet Magazine

The best cookie from each year of the premier food magazine’s nearly seventy-year history.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547328164
  • ISBN-10: 0547328168
  • Pages: 176
  • Publication Date: 11/02/2010
  • Carton Quantity: 10
About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book
    For this stunning collection, the editors of Gourmet delved deep into their archives and selected the most delicious cookie for each year of the magazine’s sixty-eight-year existence. After marathon testing sessions and winnowing from thousands of recipes—many sent in by readers—they chose an amazing array, from the almond-scented French-style Cajun Macaroons, from the magazine’s beginnings in 1941, through Mocha Toffee Bars (1971), to the contemporary Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies. The enticing assortment includes
     
    Cookies of every type and description, from the homey (Aunt Sis’s Strawberry Tart Cookies) to the exotic (Grand Marnier-Glazed Pain d’Epice Cookies), including balls, bars, refrigerator cookies, drop cookies, even deep-fried cookie confections.
     
    Cookies from around the world: from Dutch Jan Hagels to Irish oatmeal sandwich cookies filled with cream and Irish whiskey, to Scandinavian Rosettes.
     
    Dozens of Christmas cookies: Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies, star-shaped Moravian White Cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies.
     
    Printed exactly as they originally appeared in the magazine, with abundant tips and recipe notes from Gourmet’s test kitchen, and with headnotes describing their cultural context, the recipes present a fascinating bite-by-bite history of how our appetites evolved.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    INTRODUCTION
    Buy a cookie, and it's just a bite of sugar, something sweet to get you through the day.
    Bake a cookie, on the other hand, and you send an instant message from the moment you
    measure out the flour. Long before they're done, the cookies become a promise, their
    endlessly soothing scent offering both reassurance and solace. And even the tiniest bite is
    powerful, bringing with it the flavor of home. For anyone who is comfortable in a
    kitchen, a warm cookie is the easiest way to say I love you.
     Somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know this. It is the reason we bake
    cookies at Christmas, why we exchange them as gifts. Not for nothing do we pack up our
    cookies and send them off to our far-flung families. Like little ambassadors of good will,
    these morsels stand in for us. There are few people who don't understand, at least
    subconsciously, how much a cookie can mean.
     But until we began work on this book, it had never occurred to us to look at
    history through a cookie prism. When we decided to select the best cookie from each of
    Gourmet's sixty-eight years, we knew we would end up with an awesome array of treats.
    But we did not realize that we would also discover a way of charting the changes in the
    way that we eat. Our cookie cravings, it turns out, offer a fascinating window on history,
    a portrait of our country that reveals the way our appetites have evolved.
     We were so captivated by the language of cookies that we have printed the recipes
    exactly as they originally appeared. In the early years, they are remarkably casual, a kind
    of mysterious shorthand that assumes that each reader is an accomplished cook who
    needs very little in the way of guidance. "Bake in a moderate oven until crisp," is a
    classic instruction. So is "Add flour until the dough is stiff." It's interesting to watch as
    numbers creep into the recipes in the form of degrees, minutes, and cups. And it's
    startling to observe the recipes growing longer and longer as they become increasingly
    precise.
     Although we have left the language of the recipes unchanged, we have removed
    the guesswork; when we retested, we added notes, so that you'll know exactly how hot
    your oven should be, and how many cups of flour it takes to stiffen that dough.
    Cookies turn out to be an excellent indicator of what we have been eating. The instinct to
    bake them is essentially conservative, which means that cookies are rarely the first place
    that new ingredients appear. An ingredient must have a solid place at America's table
    before it makes its way into the cookie cupboard. So when pistachios start showing up in
    cookies in the eighties, you know that the luxurious nut has finally become part of the
    American food landscape. And when, in the early nineties, espresso stops making the
    occasional appearance and turns into a standard ingredient, it is no accident; this is just
    when venti became part of our vocabulary, a sign that America's drinking habits had
    undergone a serious revolution.
     Looking at cookies in this way is a fascinating exercise. It is also a great predictor
    of future trends. Work your way through this book and you'll be in a very good position
    to know what cookies we'll be baking next year, and the year after that. But while new
    cookies keep being invented, old cookies never die. They just get better and better. We
    like to think that you'll be baking the ones in this book for many years to come.
     —The Editors

    1941 - Cajun Macaroons
    America's first epicurean magazine had very
    ambitious plans. Although war was imminent,
    you wouldn't have known it from turning the
    pages. In this, the second issue, Gourmet's
    chef, Louis P. DeGouy ("de goo-ey"), taught
    his readers how to cook a duck. They could
    also read about "Famous Chefs of Today";
    peruse the first installment of "Clementine
    in the Kitchen," the story of a French cook
    (the series eventually became a beloved
    book); and shop vicariously at a store that
    specialized in dates (it sold Deglet Noors,
    Golden Saidys, and black Hyanas). Turning
    to the menus, they found a rather elaborate
    celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans,
    complete with oysters rockefeller, Creole
    soup, papaya balls, pompano fillets, pigeon
    pie, poinsettia salad (canned pineapple,
    pimiento strips, cream cheese moistened
    with French dressing, and paprika), creamed
    peas, and sugared yams.

    But the best thing about the menu was the
    finale: crisp, chewy little cookies with a
    subtle almond scent. Although the recipe
    required a lot of work, readers would beg
    for it again and again over the years.
    Happily, the food processor has taken most
    of the labor out of these French-style
    macaroons, and today they are a breeze to
    make.

    Makes about 4 dozen 1 1/2-inch cookies

    These should be baked a few days in advance. They will keep several months
    when kept in a closed tin in a cool, dry place.

    Work 1/2 pound almond paste with a wooden spoon until it is smooth.
    Add 3 slightly beaten egg whites and blend thoroughly. Add 1/2 cup
    sifted pastry flour, resifted with 1/2 cup fine granulated sugar and
    1/2 cup powdered sugar. Cover a cooky sheet or sheets with bond paper.
    The cooky mixture may be dropped from the tip of a teaspoon and
    shaped on the paper, or may be pressed through a cooky press, or
    shaped with a pastry bag and tube. Bake in a slow oven (300° F) about
    30 minutes. The cakes may be removed from the paper by means of a
    spatula while still warm.

    Variations: Finely chopped or ground candied fruits may be added to
    the mixture before baking. Or the tops of the macaroons may be
    decorated before baking by placing in the center of each a nut half, a
    raisin (seedless, black or white), or a bit of candied fruit—such as a
    bit of angelica—cut fancifully, or by sprinkling with finely chopped nut
    meats. The cakes may be decorated after baking by dainty frosting
    designs formed with the help of a cake decorator or a pastry tube.

    Recipe Notes
    1. The almond paste should be at room temperature.
    2. Rather than working the almond paste with a wooden spoon, use a food processor.
    3. Use White Lily flour (see Sources, page 154) or cake flour (not self-rising) in place of
    the pastry flour.
    4. Use regular granulated sugar in place of fine granulated sugar.
    5. In place of the bond paper that the recipe calls for, use parchment paper.
    6. The cookies should be pale golden.


    1971 - Speculaas
    (Saint Nicholas Cookies)
    A former minister of foreign affairs in
    Holland offended many cooks when he
    informed the world that the speculaas was
    Europe's best cookie. That is a matter of
    opinion, but it is a matter of fact that
    they are among the oldest cookies on
    record, for speculaas have been baked in
    the Netherlands for centuries. They began
    life as gifts to the gods, left in the
    fields as offerings to ensure a good
    harvest. But humans are equally enamored of
    this cross between a spice cookie and a
    shortbread because of their comfortingly
    robust and old-fashioned flavor.

    Makes about 4 dozen cookies
    Into a bowl, sift together 3 cups flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 tablespoon
    cinnamon, 1 teaspoon each of cloves and nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground
    aniseed, salt, and ginger or white pepper. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 sticks, or
    1 cup, butter, softened, with 1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar until the mixture
    is light and fluffy. Stir in 3 tablespoons milk, dark rum, or brandy.
    Gradually add the flour mixture, stirring until it is well combined...

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

    ----Library Journal, starred

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