Review: The Gourmet Cookie Book

The Gourmet Cookie BookThe Gourmet Cookie Book
by Gourmet Magazine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Gourmet Cookie Book / 978-0-5-473-2816-4

I love cookie cookbooks, so I was excited to pick up this Gourmet Cookie Book based on the yummy cover alone, not being overly familiar with the magazine that this book is meant to be representing. The recipes are yummy - although some are exotic enough to not really tickle my fancy - and the pictures are very pretty, but the book seems stymied by strange design choices.

Each recipe represents the "best" cookie from a specific year of the magazine. This is an interesting layout choice, but seems destined to celebrate the magazine as opposed to good cookies - some years apparently just didn't have a lot of great cookies to choose from, as they weren't currently in vogue at the time. I would have happily given up a few years worth to get some better recipes overall. Each recipe features a fairly large text "write up" about the cookie and that year as it affected the magazine, followed by the actual recipe... in relatively tiny text! This is a very strange layout choice: most people probably aren't going to want to read the history of, say, the 1971 cookie over and over again, but they will want to read the recipe instructions each time they make that cookie, so why is the "history of" text so much larger and more accessible than the recipe text?

Also odd is that the recipes are, I guess, reproduced exactly as they were printed in the magazine, which means that the "ingredients lists" don't show up until the 1980s and oh-my-gosh is this *frustrating*. Note to recipe editors: ingredients lists are *mandatory*. Do *not* make your readers read the whole recipe just to find out what ingredients they will need. On the plus side, they did bold the ingredients in the recipe text to help as much as possible, so they at least tried to make up for the difference. Also on the bright side, the pictures included here are lovely, and there's one picture per recipe, which is a very good thing indeed. Some of the more tricky cookies could have had assembly instructions (there's some folded cookies and rolled cookies), but it's usually easy to divine the instructions from the finished pictures.

If you're a big fan of Gourmet Magazine, this is a lovely and yummy homage piece, well worth checking out. But if you're just looking for a cookie cookbook, well, it's hard to say if this one will meet your needs. There's a lot of "historical" recipes here, and there's definitely plenty of pictures, but the layout sometimes seems like a barrier to using this book for its intended purpose - cooking - and sometimes the text seems more interested in celebrating a cooking magazine than celebrating good cooking.

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.

~ Ana Mardoll

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