Julia Usher's Cookie Swap is a impressive collection of recipes and even more, ideas and techniques for decorating cookies like a professional. There are some confections that even I wouldn't attempt like the Wedding Cake Boxes (don't have the patience!) but each recipe is labeled with a rating between 1 and 3 (3 being the most advanced) so you always know what you're getting yourself into.
The decorating techniques are what set this book apart, some quite detailed and time-consuming (think rainy day activity) but some, like the oblong Witches' Fingers with sliced almond fingernails for Halloween, are wonderful and original ideas for seasonal and event-specific treats.
Obviously, this is a great book for parents with kids who are ready for sugar; I'm waiting a while longer for that big milestone.
• Buy the book: Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year by Julia M. Usher (Amazon, $13.59)
More 2009 Book Reviews
• Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen
• Clean Food by Terry Walters
• On Food & Cooking by Harold McGee
• Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts Francini
• The Perfect Fruit by Chip Brantley
• Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner
• Big Food by Elissa Altman
• Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters
• The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
• Milk by Anne Mendelson
• The New Steak by Cree LeFavour
• A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
• Fresh Food From Small Places by R. J. Ruppenthal
• Eat Feed Autumn Winter by Anne Bramley
• Heirloom Beans by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo