Cookbook review: Not your grandma’s snickerdoodle

"Cookies: The New Classics" by Jesse Szewczyk (Potter, $27.50)
Caption
"Cookies: The New Classics" by Jesse Szewczyk (Potter, $27.50)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

‘Cookies: The New Classics’ by Jesse Szewczyk (Potter, $27.50)

“Forget everything you know about sugar cookies. Forget everything you know about blueberry muffins. Now, dream of a cookie that combines the best attributes of both and you have this chewy, tart cookie with fresh blueberries in every bite.”

In tempting us to try his recipe for Chewy Blueberry Muffin Sugar Cookies, Jesse Szewczyk gives us a glimpse into the thought processes that led him to develop the delightfully unique recipes for “Cookies: The New Classics” (Potter, $27.50). Each starts at a cozy, familiar place in our memories before taking us on a sugary, buttery ride to a more exciting destination. A PB&J sandwich inspires Grape Jam Bars with Salted Peanut Streusel; an iconic dessert morphs into bite-size Key Lime Pie Meringues; the humble Oreo is the muse for Black Cocoa Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

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As a cookie columnist for The Kitchn website, Szewczyk knows his subject well. Aware of how easy it is to scan the internet for the timeless standards we know and love, he’s figured out clever new ways to present them. He swirls sugar cookie dough with freeze-dried berries, blends brown butter and bourbon into the base for snickerdoodles, and tints amaretti cookies with matcha powder.

Recipes are categorized in chapters according to their dominant flavors: Chocolaty, Boozy, Fruity, Nutty, Tart, Spiced, Smoky, and Savory. The oatmeal cookies studded with chopped chocolate-covered raisins I made were winners, as were the two different kinds of shortbread I’m trying not to devour before sharing. One is infused with fresh thyme and lemon zest; the other is crowned with electric-pink Campari frosting and coarse orange-flavored sugar.

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I’m dreaming about which cookie to bring to my next cocktail party: perhaps Savory Thumbprint Cookies with Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly, or maybe Toasted Cheddar Cocktail Cookies with a flavor “reminiscent of the ‘extra toasty’ variety of a Cheez-It.”

With imaginative flavor combinations, easy-to-follow instructions, and mouthwatering photography, Szewczyk gives us some new ways to, as he puts it, “evoke a sense of nostalgia and comfort, as only a freshly made cookie can.”

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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