In Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, the goal is perfect results. For Medrich, a playful perfectionist who writes with wit, perfection includes big flavors, "noisy textures" that crunch and crackle, and lots of chocolate. Achieving it requires paying attention to details, such as using unsifted, bleached, all-purpose flour, measured so a cup weighs close to five ounces. Other meticulously detailed advice helps you make evenly baked cookies that are tender and rich, not dry or tough.
There are about 50 recipes in this book. Each is a gem, from the most buttery shortbread (using melted butter is a key) to the most sophisticated, barely sweet chocolate-chunk cookie, truly tangy lemon wafers, and incredibly easy Almond Macaroons. For killer brownies, Medrich offers a new technique she calls the Steve Ritual. Guaranteed to make the outside crustier and the inside creamier, it involves a pan of ice water. Beyond cookie recipes, Medrich includes a doubly peanutty filling for sandwich cookies and a careful guide to chocolate-dipping your favorite cookies and biscotti.
Luscious color photos and enchanting line drawings illustrate this articulate, one-of-a-kind cookie book. --Dana Jacobi
From Library Journal
Almost an embarrassment of riches for dessert lovers, here are new books from four talented bakers. Gand and her husband, Rick Tramonto, are the pastry chef and chef, respectively, of their two popular Chicago restaurants, Brasserie T and Tru. Their first book, American Brasserie, included some of Gand's delicious desserts, and now they offer a generous collection of almost 175 recipes, from Millionaire's Shortbread to Sweet-Hot White Pepper Ice Cream. The writing style is slightly precious (e.g., "Butter is a true aristocratAand a modest one"), but the recipe instructions are clear and the headnotes informative. For all baking collections. Medrich, the well-known author of Cocolat and Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, now presents 50 delicious recipes for favorite cookies and brownies, many of them shown in mouth-watering full-page color photographs. There's a good introduction, and each chapter opens with "Here's What I Learned," a brief but informative collection of clever tips. Many of the recipes are classics, and all of them seem irresistible. An essential purchase. Purdy's A Piece of Cake and As Easy as Pie have become classics, and her two recent low-fat cookbooks, including Let Them Eat Cake, have been very popular. Her new book features recipes for all sorts of homey desserts and other baked goods, from Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding to Blue Ribbon Cherry Pie to Sour Cream Spice Cake. The recipe instructions are detailed and thorough, and there are many thoughtful technique tips and other useful hints, as well as variations. For all baking collections. Wilson is a baker and food writer, and her specialty is wedding cakes, the topic of her first cookbook (The Wedding Cake Book). Unlike her extravagant wedding cakes, a number of the desserts in her new book are fairly simple, although many of them feature a "Bake It to the Limit" version, an optional final step for a more elaborate presentation or variation. (The cake recipes, perhaps not surprisingly, are far more complicated than the other desserts.) With recipes for sweets like Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart and Sour Cherry Bars, this is recommended for most baking collections.
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