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The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks) Hardcover – November 9, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Americans spend over $550 million annually on Oreos, some indication of our cookie infatuation. Meeting that passion head-on, The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion offers 400-plus recipes for almost every cookie under the sun--from traditional favorites like oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies (13 recipes including the soft and crisp kinds, plus 11 variations, such a Orange-Pistachio Milk Chocolate Chippers); to global treats like shortbread, tuiles, springerle, and biscotti; to all kinds of bars and soft bites such as brownies, Whoopie Pies, and Hot and Sweet Ginger Squares.

The Cookie Companion is in the King Arthur tradition, which means that it's a teaching cookbook--one overflowing with tips, pointers, lore, and other compelling information. Thus, for example, the introduction to Special Roll-Out Sugar Cookies informs readers that thorough dough-rolling creates thin, snapping-crisp cookies, but roll the dough a bit thicker, and "you’ve got crunchy." Their no-detail-too-small introductory basics are greatly aided by the tour-de-force illustrations of Laura Hartman Maestro. For example, a box on bar-cookie cutting shows readers the five basic size configurations, depending on pan dimensions. Bakers who have routinely paused, knife in hand, before a pan of just-baked brownies, trying to decide how to end up with, say, 24 large squares, won't, following the illustrations, do so again. A section on cookie decoration is equally definitive, as is a final chapter on ingredients, which offers, for example, a full discussion of sugars, plus asides like "Is Splenda the Answer to Low-Calorie Baking" (maybe) and "Can I Substitute a Liquid Sweetener for a Dry One to Make My Cookies Sifter?" (sometimes, but never measurement for measurement).

With "Create-a-Cookie," a section that focuses on manipulating basic dough mixtures to make checkerboard and pinwheel cookies among others; recipes for glazes, icings, dips and finishes; illustrated equipment profiles; plus color photos that depict the cookies in all their edible glory, the book is, simply, a must-have for cookie bakers everywhere. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

The holidays may be the only time of year when store-bought cookies just aren’t special enough to share with friends and family. Even novice bakers are willing to move beyond their comfort zone and try something festive. Now, they don’t have to go it alone. The King Arthur Flour Company, the largest educator of bakers in the world, has provided a thorough how-to on cookies that will appeal to beginners and advanced bakers alike. The company’s bakers have already won The James Beard Foundation KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year award for the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (2003), and now they set their sights on the cookie. The bakers have singled out eight essential cookies—chocolate chip, oatmeal, sugar, peanut butter, shortbread, molasses-ginger, brownies and biscotti—and offer both traditional and exotic recipes, as well as variations and decorating tips to allow for bursts of inspiration. Of course all baking starts with the basics, so the bakers begin by providing information on measuring, baking pans, cookie cutters, ingredients, tools and flour, and they end with a chapter on The Finishing Touch, where they dissect icing. With mouth-watering photos as motivation and drawings to offer assistance, this cookbook is a must for any serious baker. It leaves no cookie unturned.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: King Arthur Flour Cookbooks
  • Hardcover: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (November 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881506591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881506594
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Margaret Van Meter on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received my copy of the Cookie Companion at 10:30 and I had already baked two of the recipes by 5:00. One of the advantages of this great book--no trips to the store for exotic ingredients. Anyone who is a frequent baker already has everything needed on a shelf in the pantry.

If you live at altitude, page 22 alone is worth the price of the book. Photocopy it and tape it at your baking prep area.

The chapter division in the Companion is very baker friendly. How many times do you say, "I think I want to bake a drop/bar/cutout cookie" and how many times do you just think, "I would like an oatmeal cookie." Go to the chapter for the flavor or main ingredient of what you are in the mood to bake (or have the ingredients for). You will be sure to find a cookie that interests you.

I really liked the wide range of choices offered by the multiple recipes for the old standards. Do you want an oatmeal cookie that is soft, chewey, crisp, etc. You can select a recipe that meets your needs and wants for the moment.

The recipe headers are fun to read. The descriptions are sometimes amusing and it seems that the author is being very friendly and honest...almost like a friend handing you a recipe with his or her opinion of the results to be achieved.

I enjoyed the wonderful illustrations. It is obvious that the artist is quite familiar with baking techniques. The art really enhanced my appreciation of the recipes and the book.

Step by step and easy to follow--trademarks of baking with King Arthur recipes. These could be used by a beginning baker as well as by more experienced cooks. The sidebars contain interesting tips on ingrediets or techniques.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a professionally trained home baker and own over 250 baking books. I also have a set of 16 binders I made for various products and projects while in baking school in the early 2000s along with a ring set of master formulas and a laminated 'cheat sheet'so I can bake any product, anywhere. In fact, I am in the process of writing my own book for like-minded home bakers incorporating many of the tricks and techniques I learned in the fabulous States-side Cordon Bleu-based program I attended (a two year curriculum - now that's thorough!).

So, I didn't need this book, but I was looking for a cookie book to give as a gift for my daughter -- who is a scientist and bakes on the fly -- that would present the standard variety (and hopefully more) in an accurate and easy to follow manner. None of the books I had on my own shelves fit all my criteria, so I did a little exploring on Amazon and found this one. I liked what I read enough to buy a copy for myself, first and have now given it as a gift to many people. I am very happy with it.

Once you know the ratios for each baking product [after all, the same four basic ingredients make up 95% of all baking: flour (base), water/liquid ('reagent'), eggs (leavening), butter/oil (fat)] what matters are the details and particulates added along with the proportions. In culinary school students memorize these ratios so they know the difference between a pancake and a crepe, a biscuit and a muffin. The trained eye can also recognize incorrect 'recipes' and wrong proportions that mean many bookstore baking books are useless and lead to failed projects (this is not a problem in Europe where formulas are considered sacred and product names reflect a standardized version of any baked product - almost as controlled as wines and cheeses!
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Format: Hardcover
`The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion' by King Arthur staff bakers and recipe testers, with a major assist from Laura Brody and the usual platoon of editors and designers from W. W. Norton and The Courtryman Press of Woodstock, Vermont is certainly the very best general purpose cookie book I have reviewed to date. I say this with the important caveat that I have yet to review major cookie books by baking heavyweights Nick Malgieri, Maida Heatter, and Carol Walter.

It is important to say that the value of the book is not based on its exhaustive coverage of cookie recipes, although in over 500 pages, the book certainly covers all but a few corners of the far flung land of cookie baking. While it does leave out some important recipes, such as the famous thin Moravian ginger cookies of North Carolina, its real value is in its meticulous description of all those factors that influence great cookie baking.

While a lot of cookie baking is a lot more forgiving than, say, pastry or biscuits or cheesecake, it is still baking, which means that a change in ingredients which would mean nothing to a sautee or a braise will mean the difference between a great cookie and a disappointment. The clearest example of this sensitivity is in the selection of shortening, where the major choices are butter, lard, margarine, or vegetable shortenings such as Crisco. Each option has a significant effect on taste and the degree that a drop cookie will rise or spread. And, that's before you even take nutritional aspects into account with tradeoffs between the saturated fats of butter and the transfats of margarine. Add in the effects of different sugars and different flours and you start to wonder how a cookie ever manages to get made.
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