Saturday, November 10, 2012
The Daily Cookie: A Cookbook Review AND A GIVEAWAY!!!
Sometimes the best ideas for cookbooks aren't the most complicated ones. Reading the best cookbooks feel so necessary and natural you can't believe they didn't already exist.
Even if I hadn't been reading Anna Ginsberg's blog Cookie Madness for years and didn't know that Anna was a former Grand Champion Winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I would have needed to buy the Daily Cookie: 365 Tempting Treats For the Sweetest Year of Your Life.
I think it's fair to say that everyone who loves cooking also loves holidays. The only problem is that there really aren't enough major holidays to justify special occasion-worthy baking to satisfy the appetite of most bakers. Anna's cookbook satisfies that need! Because there is a holiday for EVERY day of the year, even if you didn't know it--and a cookie to celebrate the day! Of course, we all know about Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. But what about shortbread for Robert Burn's Birthday (January 25th) or Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Bars for World Nutella Day (February 5th)?
The great thing about all of these cookie recipes is that most of them are reasonably easy to whip up, and run the gamut from the fancy (like Chocolate Tiffins for April 29th, the day of the Royal Wedding of William and Kate) to the exotic (Alfajores on August 29th to honor the Death of Atahualpa, the last Incan King of Peru) to the goofy but yummy (Double Trouble Chocolate and Potato Chip Cookies for July 21st, National Junk Food Day).
True confession: my birthday is July 21st, and I'm a little embarrassed to learn that my birthday falls on National Junk Food Day. But that illustrates one of the great, unique pleasures of this book--as well as looking for great cookie recipes you can also have fun paging through the different birthdays of friends and relatives, to see what holiday and cookie is associated with that special date.
For parents, scout leaders, and people who work with kids like teachers, I have to say I think this book is essential. You know how sometimes you're stuck with a bunch of bored kids, and you have no idea what to do with them? Or are stumped for lesson plans or activities? Just open up the book and you have a holiday to teach them about and a cookie to bake to celebrate that holiday! Mission accomplished!
Another amazing thing about this book is how accessible it is for cooks on a every level. When I started reading Anna's blog, I had no experience whatsoever in baking, and needed to learn everything. Her blog had everything from easy, accessible quick recipes that didn't intimidate me to complex but oh-so-worth it special occasion 'project' recipes to show me what I could aspire to as a baker. This book is filled with new recipes that run the same gamut. A novice or an expert baker would love this book just as much and everyone will 'grow' as a baker who uses this book because Anna's instructions are so detailed and thorough.
I am in awe how Anna is able to post a new recipe every day, and yet was also able to create 365 NEW recipes for this book. Plus, she has a wonderful guide at the beginning of the book discussing techniques of cookie baking, demystifying everything from the optimal ways to measure flour versus brown sugar, what types of equipment you absolutely need (and which ones are not necessary but are nice to have), and other baking tips.
Amazon and order your copy! Thanksgiving is on the horizon, which means the holiday baking season will be in full swing.
I am also giving away a copy of The Daily Cookie, here--my first giveaway ever!
Just leave a comment on this blog post telling me your favorite 'UNUSUAL' holiday. (I'll leave it up to your judgement as to what is an unusual holiday). Leave a comment before midnight on Friday, November 16th and I will announce the winner on Monday, November 19th on my blog. If you submit your name, please check back so I can get in touch with you to send you your copy. Winners will be selected at random.
(U.S. and Canadian addresses only--sorry to any international readers).
S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies
--From page 335 of The Daily Cookie: yields 32--
1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 (1.4 ounce) milk chocolate bars (Hershey's or other), broken into pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 375F and place a rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick foil.
2. Mix the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-size bowl; set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl [I used a large mixing bowl], using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until creamy; add the vanilla and egg and beat for another 20 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
4. By hand or using the lowest speed of the mixer, sir in the flour mixture [I did this by hand]. When the flour mixture is incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough about 2 1/2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. bake one sheet at a time for 8 minutes or until the cookies appear almost set. Remove from the oven and quickly press a couple of marshmallows and a few small pieces of milk chocolate into the cookies. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 3 more minutes or until the marshmallows have puffed up and the cookies appear set. [Watch carefully--it took my oven about two minutes.] If you are concerned about timing it just right, bake one cookie as a tester and repeat.
6. Let cook on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.