review: ultimate cookies
I reviewed Julia Usher’s Cookie Swap last year and loved it so much that I was thrilled to hear that she was coming out with a second book. Ultimate Cookies is really what the name says, cookies that go way beyond the norm into new territory. The cookie “projects” are just so creative, I was amazed at what Juia accomplished with this book and I had pretty high hopes already! The recipes are each labeled with a complexity level of 1, 2 or 3 (basically beginner, intermediate, and advanced), but even the beginner cookies yield stunning results, like the spiral lollypaloozas. The author also shares the recipe for her signature sugar cookie dough as well as several other dough and frosting recipes. Plus, there’s a tutorial on how to make the perfect “goofproof” macarons.
Ultimate Cookies goes over, not only the basics of decorating cookies, but all the extra fancy techniques, too. Each recipe has complete instructions and pictures to help you to produce extra special delights. The Party Girl section seemed more like the “royalty” section to me with its ornate cookie jewelry boxes and jewel toned rings, pendants and crowns. Incredible Edibles has show-stopping treats for parties like meringue ice cream cones and cupcakes and adorable tiny tiered cakes. Where the Wild Things Are has ideas like stunning butterflies, cute cookie caterpillars, ladybugs, and more. There’s even a gorgeous peacock cookie that can be transformed into a turkey for Thanksgiving!
Of course, there are seasonal favorites for the whole year. I just loved the darling little topiary cookies, perfect for any Spring holidays or get-togethers. And the author uses the classic stained glass cookie effect, popular for Christmas cookies, to make spooky fun spider webs and Jack O’Lanterns for Halloween. I can’t wait to make the cookie snow globes, with their beautiful 3D Winter scene! I just loved Ultimate Cookies, its like a complete cookie course in a book!
About the Author:
Julia Usher is a celebrated pastry chef and food writer. She is a James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards finalist and a Director of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). Usher has designed desserts for Better Homes and Gardens, Fine Cooking, Bon Appétit, and Modern Bride, as well as for the book Vera Wang on Weddings.