"Big Fat Cookies" by Elinor Klivans

Pros: Delicious recipes; wide variety; lovely photos
Cons: None really, since Chronicle’s habit of choosing quality over quantity can’t really be called a con
Rating: 5 out of 5

Cookies may not be my favorite dessert, but when it comes to the holidays they’re one of the handiest. They’re comparatively quick and easy to make; they come in a wide variety of flavors; many of them freeze well for storage; they also travel well if you want to take them with you to a party. This makes them the nearly-ideal gift and holiday food (too bad for that fattening part, eh?). Because of this, I love cookie cookbooks. Unfortunately, not all cookie cookbooks are created equal. Luckily, Elinor Klivans’ “Big Fat Cookies” has proved no such disappointment!

Cookies are a subject on which people tend to have distinct opinions. For instance, I prefer a delicate, crispy cookie, but it can’t be hard or dry. A friend of mine likes soft pillowy cookies best. Some folks prefer hard cookies such as biscotti, or sandwich cookies filled with various creams, custards, curds, and jellies. Then there are decorated cookies, and of course bar cookies and brownies. “Big Fat Cookies” contains a good selection and variety–an entire chapter each of “big chewy cookies,” “colossal crisp cookies,” and “two-fisted sandwich cookies.” Whether you’re looking for lemon whoopie pies, toasted coconut washboards, oatmeal trailblazers, toffee crunch cookie brittle, or chocolate chip-stuffed cookies, you’ll find it in here. While you’ll certainly find recipes that will please those who only eat “standard” cookie flavors, most of these recipes are inventive and unusual in at least some small way or another. For instance, the oatmeal cookies rolled in trail mix before baking (yum!) or the butterscotch “blondies” that are turned into drop cookies and have melted chocolate swirled into them (one of the best cookies I’ve had in some time!).

As usual for a Chronicle book the production quality is quite high. Photos are elegant and tasty-looking. Layout is clear and easy to read. The recipe steps are simple and non-confusing.

The book includes notes on ingredients, tools, storing cookies, mailing cookies, and so on. Rather than providing hundreds of recipes of reasonable quality as many cookbooks choose to do, it concentrates on a more limited selection of higher-quality recipes. It certainly provides you with new ideas, however, from the cranberry-walnut cream cheese cookie mounds to the lemon butter crumb cookies and peppermint patties. Every recipe we’ve made from this cookbook has been delightful–particularly those butterscotch blondie cookies!

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