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

by Gourmet Magazine

Bizcochitos (Anise Cookies)

RATING: 0.5 out of 5 (completely inedible)

THE TEST: As soon as I saw this recipe I became intrigued. Apparently in 1989 the Bizcochitos cookie was adopted by New Mexico as their official state cookie, as a way of promoting traditional home cooking. Described in the book as the “most tender creation you can imagine with an extraordinarily flaky texture”, I began to salivate as I made preparations to bake a batch. Mr. Spock and I love the flavour of anise (although he takes his adoration to the extreme) so I thought it would be a unique addition to our Christmas cookie collection.

I have to say I hesitated after realizing that lard is used instead of butter, but with such a glowing recommendation in the recipe intro I forged ahead.

THE RESULTS: Apparently these cookies taste even better the longer they sit. I didn’t keep them around long enough to find out if this is true.

To say that they were disgusting doesn’t give justice to disgusting cookies; they were beyond gross. Based on the vile smell that wafted from my oven I knew they would be a flop, but I did due diligence and tried a bite. Beyond the overpowering taste of lard, the cookie was flavourless. The texture was nothing extraordinary, and the anise was completely lost. I felt as if I had a mouthful of lard flavoured sawdust.

I’ve subsequently seen other recipes for Bizcochitos cookies posted on food blogs that incorporated butter as well as vanilla and other goodies. Perhaps I will give one of these other recipes a try in the hopes of achieving better results. Have you ever made this particular cookie and fared better? I would love some feedback from others!

Irish Coffee Crunchies

RATING: 1 out of 5 (odd & tasteless)

THE TEST: Out of the three recipes I chose to test from this book, it was the Irish Coffee Crunchies that had me most excited. Overall the recipe itself was simple, although for the life of me I could not find double-acting baking powder anywhere. It wasn’t until I searched The Joy of Baking website that I realized most baking powders today are double-acting. Perhaps back in 1977 when the recipe was first published this was not the case, but it would have been nice to have included this information in the recipe notes.

Not sure what happened to the quantities for the icing, but I ended up using double the amount of icing sugar to thicken it up and make it spreadable.

THE RESULTS: I had such high hopes for this recipe. The photo made the cookies look so enticing, and I happen to love the combination of Irish Whiskey, cream and coffee flavours. Mmm…coffee with Baileys anyone?!

Unfortunately this was another flop. The dough was bizarre in texture, and even though the recipe warned it would be very dry I was still at a lost as to how to deal with it in terms of rolling out and cutting with a cookie cutter. The oats did not incorporate well into the mixture, and after cutting out the shapes the cookie just looked rough and ragged. Kind of like dog biscuits. They also smelled like dog biscuits. And I’m afraid to say they tasted like dog biscuits.

In the end we tossed the whole batch of cookies. This time of year I’m careful where I spend those extra calories, and I would rather indulge in treats that actually taste good.

Pecan Tassies

RATING: 4 out of 5 (tasty little bite sized morsels!)

THE TEST: This was an incredibly easy recipe to throw together. In particular, I loved how the crust consisted of a mere three ingredients (flour, butter and cream cheese – can anyone say yum?!) With the aid of a mixer it all came together easily. And ‘easily’ is not a word I usually associate with pastry made from scratch.

The filling is equally uncluttered in terms of flavour, also with a minimal list of ingredients. This kept the mini tart pure and classic in taste.

THE RESULTS: These are a perfect treat for the holiday season! Very rich and sweet, their miniature size makes them the perfect morsel to pop into your mouth. Any larger and these tassies would be too much. Plus this way you don’t feel as guilty after eating two or three.

The crust was simple and tasted great, although I would have preferred a pinch of salt to round out the flavours. I did find the dough quite sticky to work with, but don’t let this deter you from trying the recipe: I’m just being a whiner!

For a copy of the recipe for Pecan Tassies, please click here