Favorite cookie cookbooks for the holidays

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I love baking, and I especially love holiday baking.  For about 10 years, I baked an entire batch of cookies for every person in my family, many of my co-workers, and all of my closest friends!  I even had a little survey postcard I would send out before the holidays asking about food allergies and preferences.

So I’ve done my fair share of midnight cookie baking.  If you are planning a baking all nighter this weekend, I have four treasured cookbooks to share with you.

Mrs. Fields Cookie Book: 100 Recipes from the Kitchen of Mrs. Fields by Debbi Fields was my favorite cookbook for several years.  Unfortunately, it suffered an untimely end after I lent it to a friend and there was a major ingredient spill.  Luckily, by then, Mrs. Fields Best Ever Cookie Book! 200 Delicious Cookie and Dessert Recipes from the Kitchen of Mrs. Fields had been released.

This book specializes in the kind of overloaded and sweet cookies you might find at the Mrs. Fields shop in your local mall.  As I’ve gotten older (and my friends have too), many of these are heavier and sweeter than what we hope to be eating around the holidays.  But if you want to dive into a sugar rush, you can’t beat this book.

Favorite recipes:

  • Banana Nut Cookies (p. 22) – I usually use 2 bananas.
  • Applesauce Oaties (p. 45) – I substitute craisins for raisins and sometimes use pecans instead of walnuts.
  • Tuxedo Cookie Bars (p. 114) – These are really brownies, but who’s counting?  I can’t stand white chocolate, so I usually substitute peanut butter chips or nuts.

Most dangerous (yet tasty) recipe:

  • Creamy Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars (p. 112) – Just save yourself the time and eat the box of powdered sugar.

Best-Loved Cookies by Nestle Toll House and Hershey’s Fabulous Desserts are two brand-centric recipe books.  In truth, the Nestle cookbook has better cookie recipes, but I love the Hershey’s cookbook because it has traveled with me since I was in college and is the home of the fantabulous Reese’s Chewy Chocolate Cookies recipe (now available online).  This is definitely my favorite cookie recipe of all time – you can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter chips!

Favorite recipes:

  • Chocolate Fudge Brownies (p. 47) – I love the peanut butter brownie variation, without nuts.
  • Banana Bars (p. 85) – Yum.  Extra bananas won’t hurt, but aren’t required.

Good to know:

Favorite recipes:

  • Reese’s Chewy Chocolate Cookies (p. 164 and linked above) – I skip the chopped nuts.
  • Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Chip Cookies (p.164) – Not because it is any better than any other chocolate chip cookie recipe, but because it includes instructions for a pan (bar cookie) variation.  Knowing that I could convert drop cookies into bar cookies changed my life!
  • Marbled Brownies (p. 146) – I often used to substitute almond extract for vanilla extract, and this is the first recipe I ever saw that actually used almond extract.

Good to know:

  • There are some seriously awesome cake recipes in this book.  My favorite is the Black Magic Cake (p. 54).  There are also some good basic fudge and truffle recipes.

The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks) by the great folks at King Arthur Flour is like a cookie cookbook for “grown ups.”  Not only does it have a chapter on each of the classic cookie types (chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal, molasses, peanut butter, shortbread, biscotti, brownies, and decorative cookies) with several “essential recipes,” but it also explains some of the details about the purpose of different ingredients and techniques that will allow you to formulate your own baking recipes.

Favorite recipes:

  • Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies (p. 103) – I usually skip the peanuts.
  • American-Style Biscotti (p. 136) – Biscotti are sturdy and can survive for a few weeks, so they are the idea shipping cookie.  Most Americans seem to prefer the sweetness of the American recipe.  My favorite variations are the Mexican Mocha (p. 138), Cranberry-Orange (p. 141), and Lemon-Almond (p. 149) biscotti recipes.

Good to know:

  • The 30 page technique section is the real deal.  You will learn all kinds of cool things about cookies and baking if you actually read it instead of skipping right to the recipes!

What’s your favorite holiday cookbook or cookie recipe?

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