When author Julia Usher contacted me about a possible giveaway of her new book, Ultimate Cookies, one glimpse and the answer was, “Yes. Please.” Some of you may already have Julia’s first book, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year. The sequel, Ultimate Cookies, published by Gibbs-Smith and with stunning, colorful photography by Steve Adams, is filled with just as much sweet gorgeousness. Her love of baking, born in childhood sharing the kitchen with her mom and siblings, is evident on every page, but the all-grown-up cookies also revel in the art of baking. “Ultimate” is an apt adjective for the title, because I can’t imagine more exquisitely-crafted, flawless cookies than those in this book.
Ultimate Cookies is the answer for her Cookie Swap fans’ pleas for cookie decorating help, and it’s for those who also feel a “naked sugar cookie calls out to be cloaked with icing and sprinkles.” Julia writes, “Cookie decorating isn’t a frivolity to me. It’s fun, for sure, but it’s also a passion that gives my life a strong sense of meaning.” This book is for those motivated by the same passion and patience to create what is truly edible art.
The introductory chapter is packed with information, including all the tools you’ll need and a thorough description of the techniques with step-by-step photographs, including instructions on how to roll dough, prepare royal icing and parchment paper pastry cones, pipe icing, use different cookie decorating techniques, emboss cookies, and use piping techniques, and it even covers 3-D cookie decorating with modeling media such as fondant and marzipan. You’ll also find recipes for sugar cookies, shortbread, gingerbread, royal icing, macarons, meringues, tuiles, Italian buttercream, ganache, and more.
The more than 40 projects include detailed instructions so you can create your own awe-inspiring cookies. I wish I could include every single photograph from the book in this blog post, because choosing which jaw-dropping cookies to feature was almost impossible. Find hand crafted, cookie jewelry in “Party Girl”; sweet versions of spaghetti and meatballs or eggs and bacon in “Incredible Edibles”; caterpillars, butterflies and snakes in “Where the Wild Things Are”; and cookies for every occasion in “So This Season” and “Yuletide Yummies.”
One winner will be randomly drawn to win Ultimate Cookies.