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You know what time of the year it is? Cookie time! Yep. December is all about the cookies and cookie exchanges. When I was a little girl, my mother would take a weekend in early December and spend from early Saturday morning into Sunday midday baking and decorating. My dad (who is not a baker) would stay up to keep her company and help any way he could. When we kids got up on that Sunday morning, we were allowed to eat the broken cookies for breakfast! That was an amazing treat for us. Later that afternoon we would go out as a family and deliver cookies to everyone in the neighborhood. It was a wonderful tradition.
One way I know that it's getting on toward Christmas is when I find myself buying the special-interest magazines at the checkout counter of the grocery store. This week, I picked up the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine. [Side note: Mr. BFR noticed the magazine on the kitchen table. What did he mean when he asked me if I really needed it?]
This year, the issue is filled with lots fun ideas. There are even special "cookies" for dogs and for cats. The magazine has something for everyone, from exquisitely decorated cookies made from scratch to quick and easy cookies that start with a cake mix. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photograph and tips and hints are scattered throughout the pages. Better Homes and Gardens are reliable and test and retest their recipes.
From the newest cookie collection I've acquired to the oldest. Just about the very first cookbook I ever owned is Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, which my mom gave me when I was in high school. At least once a week when I was a teen, my girlfriends and I would bake cookies together after school. Our mothers were fine with this, as long as we cleaned up after ourselves. I don't think I've ever had a failure out of this book, even when I was an inexperienced and young baker paying more attention to my friends and gossip than I was to the cookie dough.
There are chapters for every kind of cookie you can think of, including good ones for mailing, for children, for special diets, and for different holidays. There is whole chapter on brownies and one on heritage cookies; there's even an icing section and decorating tips. I recommend this book to everyone -- experienced and newbie bakers alike. I've been using it for years and have yet to be disappointed.
The third cookie book I want to talk about is the award-winning The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett. This is a newer book and a bit more sophisticated than the other two. Some of the recipes require a more skill and time, but you'll still find lots of bar cookies, 40 pages of chocolate chip cookies, and basic sugar cookies and shortbread. There is a great introductory chapter with lots of advice for consistently making fabulous cookies.
The last chapter has some fun cookie crafts, including jigsaw puzzle cookies and a gingerbread house. And you'll also find some great icings and fun decorating ideas. Most (but not all) of the cookies are shown in gorgeous photographs. In fact I got hungry just writing up this post! As with the other books, you'll find terrific tips and hints throughout the text. I recommend this for bakers looking for new ideas.
I own many cookie cookbooks, but here are four more that I've baked out of a lot over the years and can recommend.
Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum, Cookie Companion by King Arthur Flour, Biscotti by Lou Seibert Pappas, and Bar Cookies: A to Z by Marie Simmons.
So you want to know where the recipe is?? Ha, this is a trick post. Today, Kathy of BermudaOnion and Julie of BookingMamma are kicking off their twelve days of Christmas cookies! Later in the week they'll be asking for cookie recipes, I'll be sharing some my favorite cookies as part of their get ready for the holidays fun.
All books discussed in this post were bought (see review policy)