Cookies and Brownies (1999)
I bought it on whim from a cookbook club, and when I pulled it out of the box, was slightly disappointed at how slender the book was. This was the only disappointment this book was ever to give.
I have a lot of cookbooks--and the majority of those are on baking. But this is the cookbook I grab first when I'm looking to bake something sweet. There are lots of pictures, which serve to make you crave sweets even more as you flip through the book. But that is all secondary to the recipes. I'm kind of picky about sweets--I have definitely likes and dislikes--so I'm used to seeing recipes that just don't appeal to me.
Not in Cookies and Brownies however. Everything in this book looks good, and everything I have tried has been excellent. In fact, some of my favories are in here. The recipe for "Bittersweet Brownies" is my absolute favorite, and has been a favorite of my co-workers. They may be the best brownies I have ever had. As long as you have bittersweet and unsweeted chocolate, the rest of the ingredients should be on hand, and even better--they're easy. After I made them for the first time, I wondered why anyone would ever bother with brownies from a box.
But that's not the only excellent receipe in here. Double Chocolate Chip Cookies are excellent--best straight out of the oven while they're still gooey, but good ever after they've cooled. I make them with peanut butter chips and I think they're even better. The Chocolate Shortbread is delicious--and also easy. Beacon Hill Cookies were a surprise--again, best out of the oven, but still yummy cooled.
I recently made the Espresso Swirl Brownies and took them to work, and they went over very well--people going out of their way to let me know how good they were.
On the off chance you aren interested in chocolate (heaven forbid), the Lemon Bars are fantastic. They're my mom's favorite recipe from this book. I make the Rugelach for Christmas because this recipe is much easier than the one in Baking with Julia.
I could go on--I haven't tried a single recipe that wasn't fantastic.
There are only two negatives about this book. Mine is starting to fall about. Despite the hardback binding, pages are coming apart, which is very annoying. The second bad thing is that Cookies and Brownies is out of print, and good luck finding a used copy (last time I checked Amazon, the low listing was exhorbitant, which is why I'm keeping my falling apart copy.)
But we can hope that someone will realize what a fantastic book this is, and get it back into print, so everyone can make and enjoy "Bittersweet Brownies" and the other wonders of this book.
I love Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies so much that the pages fell out of my original copy. So how could I resist a new–and LARGER!–cookie book?
So what do we have? ~340 pages of recipes with plenty of notes and pictures and options and alternatives for those recipes. There are also updates to most of the recipes found in Cookies and Brownies.
The layout of this book is by cookie texture, so you can browse for a recipe based on your cookie preferences. I actually have another book with a similar setup to this, and it’s as good as any other arrangement for a cookie cookbook.
The ingredients are given in both volume and weight measurements, which I love, since I try to measure everything by weight anymore (except for very small measurements, like teaspoons and tablespoons, because my scare isn’t that precise).
There is also a lovely reference section in the back. Living in a small town, it’s sometimes difficult to find ingredients that are even slightly unusual (although this has gotten much better in recent years), so it’s nice to have internet and mail-order options for ingredients.
There are also multiple gluten free recipes. I noted this because I have friends who cannot eat gluten. Of course, those friends also don’t bake, but that’s neither here nor there.
I have thirteen recipes marked that I really REALLY want to try, a couple of which are revamped from Cookies and Brownies, but most are new to me, including Chocolate Pudding Bars, which look amazing.
Published by Artisan
There are a lot of recipes I want to try here, though I have made only one so far, her Apple Crisp, and I didn’t even follow that recipe completely, since it called for dried apricots which I 1) didn’t have and 2) wasn’t interested in adding to an apple crisp.
That said, the apple crisp WAS very good.
What I really want to try however are the various pudding and mousse recipes. I have a Thing for puddings and panna cotta and other such creamy desserts, so I am very much looking forward to expanding my repertoire with things that aren’t horribly complex and time consuming. (I just have to remember to stock up on whole milk and cream.)
There are, of course, lots of gorgeous pictures, almost all of which looks achievable by a human being, and the recipes are thorough, which would make this a good book for someone who isn’t comfortable baking.
She also has several sauces which can be applied to any number of desserts, which I always love seeing.
The recipes are organized by dessert types, such as fruit desserts, puddings, cookies, etc.
I definitely want to try more recipes from here.
Published by Artisan