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Julia M. Usher's Ultimate Cookies Paperback – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


This time the clever cookie comes in the guise of Julia Usher. [I] love the fact that she has created an instructional book with clear intent, [and] thoughtful and excellent recipes topped with quality decorations. I see a lot of adequate decorating out there, but this work is inspirational. Cupcakes had better not rest on their laurels: I can easily be persuaded to put them aside when enticed by the decorative crumbs of Julia's cookies. Beautiful book, beautiful work . . . [I] recommend to all edible artists.

(Kerry Vincent, Food Network Challenge Judge )

This really is the ULTIMATE cookie book. Whimsical, elegant, colorful and creative!! What more could you ask for? You will not be disappointed.

(Colette Peters Colette's Cakes )

Julia Usher has integrated insane creativity with a passion for cookie decorating to produce one of the most inspirational sugar art books ever printed. Ultimate Cookies delivers a lip-smacking guide to creating gorgeous cookies for any season.

(Nancy Quist, President Fancy Flours, Inc )

Julia Usher is the most talented and creative cookie decorator I know. Her techniques are flawless, as are her beautiful cookies, and this book is the ultimate reference for beginners as well as seasoned cookie decorators. Flip through these pages and you'll soon find yourself in the kitchen, creating awe-inspiring edible works of art and decorating like a pro.

(Tish Boyle, Editor Dessert Professional )

Astonishingly beautiful cookie creations with effective, user-friendly explanations make Ultimate Cookies an absolute must-have resource for experienced and new decorators alike. Every page is an absolute delight!

(Marian Poirier )

Julia Usher has integrated insane creativity with a passion for cookie decorating to produce one of the most inspirational sugar art books ever printed. Ultimate Cookies delivers a lip-smacking guide to creating gorgeous cookies for any season.
(Nancy Quist, President Fancy Flours, Inc )

From the Author

Move over, cupcake! The decorated cookie has arrived! Don't get me wrong. I love cute cupcakes as much as the next baker, but can we be frank? They've hogged the spotlight for far too long, don't you think?!

The present of a lovely decorated cookie is truly transcendent.  We all know this instinctively. We bask in its fragrance as it takes shape in the oven. We ooh and ahh over the icing artfully laid on its top. We smile as its buttery crumbs caress our tongues. It's a rare gift that not only tickles the fancy and teases the palate, but satisfies all the way to the heart.
What?! You say I've got a soft spot for cookies?  I won't deny it. It comes from years of cookie-decorating fun with my sibs under the supportive tutelage of my mom. Each Christmas we donned her frilly June Cleaver-esque aprons and tried our darnedest to outdo one another with the cleverest cookie design. Even when disfigured cutouts or errant icing blobs foiled our plans, we earned Mom's unswerving praise -- and, better yet, the excuse to eat our mistakes.

Warm and fuzzy memories aside, cookies are practical and infinitely adaptable, too. Dough can be made ahead, frozen, and then cut and baked when you've got the spare time. Cookies can be top-coated, flocked, stenciled, marbled, rubber-stamped, stacked, and arranged into countless 3-D designs.  And once baked and decorated, cookies have the advantage of a relatively long shelf life. If you've poured your heart and soul into a fabulously decorated treat, it only makes sense that you should be able to admire it for a few days without it going stale or bad, right?

Okay, yes, a part of me hopes that Ultimate Cookies will spur the next crazy baking trend. But my bigger aim is to share my joy of cookie decorating and all the tools needed to bring this joy more completely into your life. If you smile while turning the pages, then I'll smile, too, knowing that Ultimate Cookies struck a chord with you.

Live sweetly, Julia M. Usher

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142361934X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423619345
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former owner of the boutique bakery AzucArte, Julia made her first mark on the food world in 1997 as a wedding cake decorator and pastry chef. Her desserts have since appeared at the James Beard House and in the pages of Vera Wang on Weddings, Pastry Art & Design, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Brides, and Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, among others.

Julia now pours her passion for sweets into food writing and styling for a number of local, regional, and national magazines. She is Contributing Editor at Dessert Professional (formerly Chocolatier) and a 2008 James Beard-nominee for her monthly column Prep School in St. Louis-based Sauce magazine. In recent years, her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, Yankee, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, Gastronomica, The Herb Companion, and St. Louis At Home. Her first book, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year (Gibbs Smith, August 2009), won three prestigious Cordon d' Or Cookbook Awards and is currently in its ninth printing. Julia's latest book, Ultimate Cookies, releases on November 1, 2011 and promises to set the standard among cookie decorating books.

Julia graduated valedictorian from The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in 1996. She also holds degrees in mechanical engineering from Yale and U.C Berkeley, and an MBA from Stanford. In addition to serving as Secretary/Treasurer of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Julia is a three-time President and two-time Program Chair of the St. Louis Culinary Society, and a founding member of the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d' Escoffier International. Prior to beginning her career in food, Julia worked as nuclear reactor systems engineer for General Electric, as a management consultant for Bain & Company, and in marketing research for industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to industrial design.

To schedule an event or interview with Julia, contact:

Ron Longe, Account Manager
Media Masters Publicity
101 West 104th Street #8
New York, New York 10025
Office: 212-866-2906
Cell: 917-312-5571

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Karen B on November 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for all levels of expertise. There are lots of examples of decorating techniques, including fondant, royal icing, chocolate clay, stenciling, painting, using frosting transfer sheets, etc. All techniques are easy to follow with detailed photos.

The numerous photos of the decorated cookies are literally breathtaking!!! The 3D Peacocks are amazing and templates are provided for making these, as well as other 3D cookies. There are a handful of cookie recipes, including Sugar Cookie, Shortbread, Tuiles, "GoofProof" Macarons, Meringues,Gingerbread, etc. There also is a recipe for Royal Icing with detailed instructions on how to achieve the "right" piping consistency. Several other useful recipes are included(chocolate clay, chocolate ganache,Italian Buttercream,etc). The extensive Resource List is helpful for locating decorating necessities.

This is a BEAUTIFUL, informative book. The author REALLY takes Cookie Decorating to the next level!!! She is extremely creative in her decorating. It's worth purchasing this book just for the photos of her beautiful cookies!!! I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who enjoys decorating cookies. Her cleaver decorating ideas are very impressive!!!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anniina Jokinen on January 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those just venturing into the craft and art of cookie decorating, this book is a must. The book starts by covering all the basic tools (and where to get them), tools to avoid, and tools to put on your wish list. Next, Julia explains the how-to's of doughs (rolling, cutting, baking), how to make a pastry cone, and the various "bedazzlers" (extras you can put on your cookies in addition to royal icing). Then comes the tour-de-force section--"15 bottom-to-top decorating techniques"--all the different methods to ice a cookie. Everything is illustrated, step by step, with clear photos, so you know exactly what to do. Even marbling, stenciling, and using decorative wafer papers are covered. These are followed by a section on decorative borders, including beadwork. At the end of the book are recipes and tips for making the perfect consistencies of icing for piping, flooding, and "topcoating" -- even tips on how to make sure your icing makes a perfect, rounded bead. No more pointy dots for anyone! The next 150+ pages are dedicated to various cookie projects, which are explained in minute detail with accompanying photos of each stage. The end of the book is dedicated to various recipes for doughs, icings, and modelling media. A really lovely book; clear, well-written, and well-illustrated. Julia takes the fear and mystery out of cookie decorating, and makes the reader feel that anything is possible with practice. Highly recommended!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hello Happy TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was amazed at what Juia accomplished with this book and I had pretty high hopes already based on her first book, Cookie Swap! The recipes are each labeled with a complexity level of 1, 2 or 3 (basically beginner, intermediate, and advanced), but even the beginner cookies yield stunning results, like the spiral lollypaloozas. The author also shares the recipe for her signature sugar cookie dough as well as several other dough and frosting recipes. Plus, there's a tutorial on how to make the perfect "goofproof" macarons.

Ultimate Cookies goes over, not only the basics of decorating cookies, but all the extra fancy techniques, too. Each recipe has complete instructions and pictures to help you to produce extra special delights. The Party Girl section seemed more like the "royalty" section to me with its ornate cookie jewelry boxes and jewel toned rings, pendants and crowns. Incredible Edibles has show-stopping treats for parties like meringue ice cream cones and cupcakes and adorable tiny tiered cakes. Where the Wild Things Are has ideas like stunning butterflies, cute cookie caterpillars, ladybugs, and more. There's even a gorgeous peacock cookie that can be transformed into a turkey for Thanksgiving!

Of course, there are seasonal favorites for the whole year. I just loved the darling little topiary cookies, perfect for any Spring holidays or get-togethers. And the author uses the classic stained glass cookie effect, popular for Christmas cookies, to make spooky fun spider webs and Jack O'Lanterns for Halloween. I can't wait to make the cookie snow globes, with their beautiful 3D Winter scene! I just loved Ultimate Cookies, its like a complete cookie course in a book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joanne on November 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I absolutely love this book. It is the best cookie decorating book I have ever seen. I am an experienced decorator and yet I learned so much. All of the ideas are so creatively clever. The photography is beautiful and the detailed instructions, with pictures, are so easy to follow. I love the book so much that I am going to order one for each of my 3 daughters as Christmas gifts. This book is perfect even though my girls have varying degrees of experience ranging from very little to quite a lot. It is a book they can also use for baking and decorating with their own children.
I love the variety of using royal icing, fondant, wafer paper, stencils templates and the list of ideas goes on and on. This book is for everyone who wants to decorate beautiful cookies. The recipes are perfect, too. I highly recommend Ultimate Cookies. I would give it 10 stars if I could.
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