It's high season for new cookbooks and good food reading. Sara Kate and others of us from The Kitchn have been doing our best to keep up with this year's new books, giving you tastes and peeks inside some of our favorites. This week we are going to be reviewing several more new books that we think would make great gifts — for yourself, or for others! First up is a great little stocking stuffer or hostess gift of a book: a cookie book filled with inspiration and eye candy for bakers.
Title & Publisher: Cookie Craft Christmas: Dozens of Decorating Ideas for a Sweet Holiday, by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer. Published by Storey Publishing, 2009.
First impressions: This is a small hardcover book with a dustjacket and glossy pages. It stays open and flat if you lay something on it, and it can easily be held in one hand. There are images for every recipe, and step-by-step photos for some. The recipes are short and the photos are inspiring!
Number of recipes: 3 basic cookie recipes, and around 70 decorating examples.
The angle: This book is a follow-up to the authors' 2007 title, Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust, Designs and Techniques for Creative Cookie Occasions. They say that they realized they could fill a whole other book just with Christmas cookies, and they did! This book has inspiration for lots and lots of pretty cookies. Many, of course, rely on specialty cookie cutters, but many others can be made with just a round biscuit cutter (there's a special guide to just these cookies).
The other stuff: An introduction with plenty of information about how to flood, pipe, and work with frosting. There is helpful info on equipment and, at the end of the book, a guide to shipping decorated cookies and an inspiration chapter on holding a cookie party. There's a lot packed into this little book!
Strengths: These cookies definitely take some skill but the authors are careful to mark the extra-easy cookies and to give really helpful guidance on making picture-pretty cookies yourself. Compared to other highly decorated holiday cookies (Martha! We're looking at you!) many of these feel accessible and actually do-able.
Recipes for right now: Peace Doves, Cookie Place Cards, Easy Snowflakes, Starry Starry Chocolate, and Peppermint Gingerbread House (recipe coming up later!).
Recommended? Yes, for bakers looking for a little extra inspiration for their holiday cookies, and for some easy and accessible ways to make pretty cookies for gift-giving this season.
• Buy the book: Cookie Craft Christmas, $9.32 at Amazon
More 2009 Book Reviews
• The New Portuguese Table by David Leite
• 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
(Image: Storey Publishing)