Review: The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009

by Gourmet Magazine

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The whole premise of The Gourmet Cookie Book was to feature the best cookie recipe from each year of Gourmet Magazine’s existence (1941-2009). Released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ($18), it is a unique compilation of recipes that integrate historical data with culinary trends. I love the historical filter through which the book is written, one that uses cookies as a way of detailing American history while highlighting our evolving eating habits. It is a book that people will want to read from cover to cover.

The photography is stark and simple; an artistic approach that I think works well and compliments the overall historical tones of the book. Even the index itself was appealing and very user friendly, incorporating thumbnail photos of each cookie.

However despite the fact that I love the overall concept for this book and think that it is both interesting and informative, in terms of recipes tested I was disappointed. I don’t know if I just happened to pick flops, but you’d think that with only one cookie recipe included from each year that all of them would have to meet the criteria of being…well, edible. That being said, I haven’t given up completely on this book and would like to try a couple of other recipes before deciding whether or not to relinquish ownership of my copy. Perhaps because the recipes included were printed as they originally appeared in the magazine, I should give the editors more credit for authenticity and leeway for results that may not necessarily be compatible with today’s tastes.

As a loyal fan of Gourmet Magazine, I mourned alongside numerous other foodies once publication ceased. I had such high hopes for this book, but I think editors will have to rely entirely on brand recognition and subscriber nostalgia when it comes to sales.

Has anyone else tried this book? I would love to hear if others had similar (or differing) experiences to mine!

To read the results of my recipe tests for The Gourmet Cookie Book, please click HERE

9 comments on “Review: The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009

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  2. I have tried one from this book and have another one that will be made (as soon as I set up my new red Kitchen Aid mixer!!!). I made the Brandy Snaps and I found them difficult to get thin enough before rolling. While I did not like them as I thought they tasted only like molasses the receiver apparently did. I threatened to make them again so I am pretty sure the evaluation was truthful. Which is great because I will not attempt again.

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  4. Stay-At-Home-Chef on said:

    Thanks for your comment Ashley! I’m glad the recipient enjoyed the brandy snaps…guess it was worth all the hassle?!

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  6. marsha decaria on said:

    I have made at least 20 of the cookies, and the best review was from my very health (and calorie) conscience sister in law. Her comment was they were all WTC. (worth the calories). I like the book so much I just requested I-Books to make it available.

  7. Stay-At-Home-Chef on said:

    Thanks for your comment Marsha! Do you have a favourite cookie from this book? I recently made the wheat-free oatmeal raisin cookies and they were AMAZING. By the way, I think your sister-in-law has it exactly right – this entire book is WTC (worth the calories!)

  8. YES! The Irish Coffee Crunchies is a lousy recipe. Tasteless, just as you said. And by the time I added more cream and sugar to the icing (my initial skepticism was definitely warranted) in order to approach spreadability, the taste of irish was entirely gone and there was precious little coffee flavor.

    On the other hand, the Mocha Cookies are way out wonderful – worth the price of the book on sale at Amazon, and the Mocha Toffee Bars and Ginger Sugar Cookies are keepers.

    The Mocha Cookies need more coffee if one uses high quality chocolate, and need longer cooking time if one wants the bottom of the cookie to come off the parchment paper.

    The Mocha Toffee Bars are best the 2nd day.

    My son-in-law loves gingersnaps, and thought the ginger sugar cookies were great. I’m going to add candied ginger next time, though, because I like it.

    I’ll continue to bake my way through this book, but I will avoid the Anise recipe. Thanks!

  9. Stay-At-Home-Chef on said:

    Nina – thank you so much for your comment! I appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences with the recipes in this book. To be honest, I have not cooked from this book since reviewing it but sounds like I need to try those Mocha Cookies…pronto!

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