The quick and dirty reciew for those that don't want the long version: This book is an essential for any cookie monster. The contents isuniquely laid out and ultra functional as are the sections of the book. There are pictures for every recipe. The recipes are varied in flavour, texture, difficulty, and cost. This book is almost flawless. Recipes to try (They're all chocolate. Wonder what I like in my cookies? :D): chocolate crackles, chocolate chip maracroons, chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies, chocolate thumbprints, chocolate cookie cutouts.
I have tried 23 recipes of the almost 175 that the book contains. There were pnly a few recipes that did not turn out or were unappetizing. Most of the rest that I would not make again were fine cookies, they just didn't interest my palette. But over half the cookies I made I would definitely make again, many were really phenominal. For a cookbook, where some hit-and-miss is to be expected, I am not surprised that Marth Stewart's Cookies manages to have so many great recipes.
The book is divided into seven sections by cookie texture: light and delicate, soft and chewy, crumbly and sandy, chunky and nutty, cakey and tender, crisp and crunchy, rich and dense. Soft and chewy, crumbly and sany, crisp and crunchy, and rich an dense are all larger chapters, and the other chapters are about half the size. I absolutely love that the book is divided this way because I generally like cookies with certain tentures, while I don't like other cookie textures. Also, having the cookies laid out by texure makes it easy to find the right kind of cookie for, say, tea time or dessert or snack. There is also a picture for each cookie in the book. I love it when there is a picture for each dish in a book. It elevates the cookbook into a real treasure, plus it's nice to see the cookies to help decide whether you think you'd make them.
There is no mini-contents within each chapter, instead just one at the beginning of the book, but it works because the contents is laid out so uniquely. Instead of a boring list of the types of cookies in the book, each section has a page or two and every cookie is photographed from the top and underneath is the name and page the recipe is found on. I love this! It is the most unique contents I have ever seen, it's beautiful, and so unique. Plus it's really handly to be able to picture-peruse a bunch of cookies at once when deciding what you want to make.
Although Martha always demands the best of the best ingredients for her recipes, which can make things a bit pricey, there were many cookies where grocery store brand ingredients could be substituted with little or no compromise on cookie quality. So many of the cookies are quite affordable to make. There are of course the medium and more pricey cookies as well, but sometimes it;s nice to treat yourself to a decadent experience, which you'll definitely get with may of the cookies in this book. There is also a range in equipment and difficulty level needed for cookies. Ther are your oh-so-basic drop and bar cookies and then there are others which need special presses or moulds (one even needs a waffle maker). There are cookies that require precision fingers and techniques to finish them off, but then there are some less difficult cookies that require only some knowledge beyond basic, so these would be good stepping-stone recipes before foraying into the uber-expert recipes. There are also cookies that can be made in under an hour and with one or two bowls and then others that involve many steps or layers and can be a bit time consuming to make (and then you have to do the dishes after).
As for cookies featured in the book, there is also quite the variety as well. You're going to get your tranditionals like chocolate chip, shortbread, rum balls, brownies. There's also a lot of traditional "foriegn-style" cookies like bratseli, fortune cookies, mexican wedding cookies, and alfajores de dulce de leche. Besides textures, there's also a variety of styles like drop, bar, meringues, cut-out, liquor-based, icebox, and sandwich. There's lots of simple flavours like chocolate, sugar, and nut-based and then cookies with interesting flavours like Earl grey, sesame, pistachio, and lime. There are also many cookie styles that are reapeated. There are several textures of chocolate chip, depending on what you like. There are also several flavours of merengue, shortbread, macaroon-style, and meltaways. I like that Martha doesn't just pick one style of certain cookies. By adding ingredients or changing the style of how the cookie is made, some basic cookies are really showcased for all the variety that they can bring to the table. I've tried a few of the shortbreads and they don't even taste like the same cookie. There is also, of course, a variety of cookies of all palettes. This is a book that parents can use to bake for their kids, that makes adult tea-time cookies, that has savoury and sweet combinations. It's clear that a lot of planning and thought went into covering all the possible variety bases they could when making this book. I'm sure that there were many great cookies that did not make the cut, and not one recipe seems redundant or just to add filler.
This is a classic cookbook for any cookie lover. I turn to it again and again. It is the only cookie book I will bake from. There were barely any flaws in this cookbook, which is a tour-de-force, easy to use, functionally laid out, and pictures with every recipe.
Recipes I have tried (starred for favourites):
*soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies
*marcaroons (regular, chocolcate, and chocolate chip)
cream-filled chocolate sandwiches
*chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies
cashew caramel cookies
dark chocolate cookies with sour cherries
mocha shortbread wedges
*rum raisin shortbread
chunky peanut, chocolate, and cinnamon cookies
rocky ledge bars
peanut butter whoopie pies
raspberry almond blondies
*cakey chocolate chip cookies
*chocolate cookie cutouts
Earl grey tea cookies