Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year

Overview

"This creative book has become my new gold-standard guide to cookie decorating. Julia Usher's whimsical designs and ideas make this book as fun as it is informative." —Tish Boyle, Editor, Dessert Professional and author of The Good Cookie

"Julia Usher's over-the-top cookies and detailed, theme-inspired swaps promise joyful sharing and sweet memories for year-round entertaining." —Flo Braker, author of Baking for All Occasions, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, and Sweet Miniatures

"Julia Usher's gorgeous and doable ideas inspire us not only to

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Overview

"This creative book has become my new gold-standard guide to cookie decorating. Julia Usher's whimsical designs and ideas make this book as fun as it is informative." —Tish Boyle, Editor, Dessert Professional and author of The Good Cookie

"Julia Usher's over-the-top cookies and detailed, theme-inspired swaps promise joyful sharing and sweet memories for year-round entertaining." —Flo Braker, author of Baking for All Occasions, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, and Sweet Miniatures

"Julia Usher's gorgeous and doable ideas inspire us not only to trade cookies at holiday time but the whole year through. Filled to the brim with mouthwatering recipes and delectable photographs, Cookie Swap is a sweet treat to savor and celebrate." —Nancy Wall Hopkins, Deputy Food and Entertaining Editor, Better Homes and Gardens

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Barbara Mahany
"No wonder Usher - who grew up to get a degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University, earned an MBA from Stanford University and at 47 is an accomplished pastry chef and cookbook writer - is intent on drawing folks back to the kitchen. She knows, firsthand, the heart-filled connection that's sparked there. And she has just the ticket to get us all baking the honest-to-goodness way."
From the Publisher
Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year

Julia M. Usher. Gibbs Smith, $19.99 paper (160p) ISBN 9781423603788

Encouraging Christmastime cookie swappers to up the ante with plans for eight themed swaps-including Valentine's Day, bridal shower, garden party and Halloween (plus Christmas)-Usher produces a wealth of eye-catching bakery, decoration and entertainment ideas for hosts of all experience levels. Recipes are helpfully categorized by skill level, time commitment and type, allowing readers to decide quickly if they're up for the task of Eggnog Cheesecake Streusel Bars, a one on Usher's scale (meaning novice-appropriate), or the mini Chocolate Chai Burgers on Sesame Seed Buns, a considerably more complicated recipe that merits a three. The result is a book that bakers can come back to as their experience and confidence grows, with at least one recipe worth tackling in each theme. Usher's suggestions for transporting cookies via vintage lunch box or Christmas ornament box, and party ideas like dish towels imprinted with vintage postcards, are easy and ingenious, sure to appeal to fans of the Barefoot Contessa and Martha Stewart (no surprise from the designer dessert maker whose work has appeared in Chocolatier, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit and Modern Bride). (Aug.)

Better Homes & Gardens
A cookie is one of life's most precious, delicious gifts. Swapping them with friends is all the better. Julia Usher's gorgeous and doable ideas inspire us not only to trade cookies at holiday time but the whole year through. Filled to the brim with mouthwatering recipes and delectable photographs, Cookie Swap is a sweet treat to savor and celebrate.

Nancy Wall Hopkins, Deputy Food and Entertaining Editor, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

— Nancy Wall Hopkins

Dessert Professional

This creative book has become my new gold-standard guide to cookie decorating. Talented baker Julia Usher provides foolproof recipes and teaches us decorating techniques, from the simplest bar cookie to elaborate showpieces. Her whimsical designs and ideas make this book as fun as it is informative. Open it to any page-you're bound to be inspired.

Tish Boyle, Editor, Dessert Professional (formerly Chocolatier) and author of The Good Cookie and The Cake Book

— Trish Boyle

Chicago Tribune

"No wonder Usher - who grew up to get a degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University, earned an MBA from Stanford University and at 47 is an accomplished pastry chef and cookbook writer - is intent on drawing folks back to the kitchen. She knows, firsthand, the heart-filled connection that's sparked there. And she has just the ticket to get us all baking the honest-to-goodness way."

— Barbara Mahany

Dessert Professional - Trish Boyle
This creative book has become my new gold-standard guide to cookie decorating. Talented baker Julia Usher provides foolproof recipes and teaches us decorating techniques, from the simplest bar cookie to elaborate showpieces. Her whimsical designs and ideas make this book as fun as it is informative. Open it to any page-you're bound to be inspired.

Tish Boyle, Editor, Dessert Professional (formerly Chocolatier) and author of The Good Cookie and The Cake Book

Author of The Modern Baker, How to Bake, and Cookies Unlimited - Nick Malgieri
"Julia Usher's lovely cookies will inspire you to become a dedicated cookie decorating hobbyist."

Nick Malgieri, Author of The Modern Baker, How to Bake, and Cookies Unlimited

Better Homes & Gardens - Nancy Wall Hopkins
A cookie is one of life's most precious, delicious gifts. Swapping them with friends is all the better. Julia Usher's gorgeous and doable ideas inspire us not only to trade cookies at holiday time but the whole year through. Filled to the brim with mouthwatering recipes and delectable photographs, Cookie Swap is a sweet treat to savor and celebrate.

Nancy Wall Hopkins, Deputy Food and Entertaining Editor, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

author of Pie in the Sky - Susan G Purdy
Julia Usher is one smart cookie . . . and luckily, we can now all be invited to her Cookie Swap! Her new book has it all: complete basics for beginners, everything a home baker needs to perfect the simple art of "something out of nearly nothing," and imaginative creativity for pros. Well-tested recipes are reliable, fun, and scrumptious; photos are enticing; and party ideas are both practical and budget conscious. Essential for all bakers, this excellent guide to year-round cookie swap parties is a winner.

Susan G. Purdy, author of Pie in the Sky

author of Baking for All Occasions, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, and Sweet Miniatures - Flo Braker
Julia Usher's over-the-top cookies and detailed, theme-inspired swaps promise joyful sharing and sweet memories for year-round entertaining.

Flo Braker, author of Baking for All Occasions, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, and Sweet Miniatures

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Encouraging Christmastime cookie swappers to up the ante with plans for eight themed swaps-including Valentine's Day, bridal shower, garden party and Halloween (plus Christmas)-Usher produces a wealth of eye-catching bakery, decoration and entertainment ideas for hosts of all experience levels. Recipes are helpfully categorized by skill level, time commitment and type, allowing readers to decide quickly if they're up for the task of Eggnog Cheesecake Streusel Bars, a one on Usher's scale (meaning novice-appropriate), or the mini Chocolate Chai Burgers on Sesame Seed Buns, a considerably more complicated recipe that merits a three. The result is a book that bakers can come back to as their experience and confidence grows, with at least one recipe worth tackling in each theme. Usher's suggestions for transporting cookies via vintage lunch box or Christmas ornament box, and party ideas like dish towels imprinted with vintage postcards, are easy and ingenious, sure to appeal to fans of the Barefoot Contessa and Martha Stewart (no surprise from the designer dessert maker whose work has appeared in Chocolatier, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit and Modern Bride).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423603788
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 8/1/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 706,466
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia M. Usher is a celebrated pastry chef and food writer who has designed extraordinary desserts for such magazines as Chocolatier, Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit, and Modern Bride, and such books as Vera Wang on Weddings and For the Love of Food. Usher is a former Contributing Editor at Chocolatier magazine, a James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards finalist, and a Director of the Itnernational Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She divides her time between St. Louis, Missouri and Stonington, Maine.

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Read an Excerpt

Cookie Swap Countdown

1. At least four weeks prior to the party:

Choose a date and send out invitations to allow guests ample time to bake. Ask each guest to bring a favorite cookie and enough copies of the recipe for all to share. Though there are no hard-and-fast rules about how many cookies your guests should bring, consider capping each guest's contribution at five or six dozen (generally no more than two or three standard-sized batches), or at whatever number s/he can comfortably prepare. The goal is to keep the event stress-free for everyone.

Most importantly, use the invitation to your guests' advantage. Identify any known food allergies in advance and broadcast off-limits ingredients in the invitation. If your event is themed, share the concept so guests can bake clever cookie tie-ins if they wish. You might even include a few tried-and-true recipes as inspiration.

2. With two to four weeks to go:

Gather all the essential support for the cookies, such as serving plates (should guests forget them),
napkins, beverages, and containers for packing up the take-home treats. Elevate your swap by avoiding paper plates and plastic wrap whenever you can. Stock up on paper and pencils for writing down recipes, making name tags for cookies, and/or listing the ingredients in each recipe. (The latter is especially important if guests have food allergies.)

3. With one to two weeks to go:

Make your cookie contributions as close to the event as possible. If time won't permit last-minute preparation, choose cookies with a long shelf-life, or doughs that can withstand some freezing. It's best not to let fragile cookies dominate your offerings. If you opt for fragile cookies, gather the packaging and transport instructions that guests will need to get the cookies home in one piece. (As a general rule, package fragile cookies in one layer and cushion them with paper towels to prevent them from sliding in the car.)

Set your table for the cookies it will soon receive.

4. On the day of the event:

Welcome friends with open arms. After a few hours of lively conversation and cookie sampling, give everyone the signal to swap treats. Partygoers should take home nearly the same quantity of cookies as they brought, but their choices will now be immense.

Bar Prep Talk:

Allow about 1 hour for the brownies to cool before applying the marshmallow topping; otherwise, the marshmallows will melt and flatten. The brownies will stay fresh longer if kept in the pan, tightly wrapped in foil, and cut just before serving. Store at room temperature up to 1 week.

I've taken the same campy ingredients in s'mores and turned them into an easy-to-package bar, perfect for tossing into summer picnic baskets.

S'mores Bars

Makes 2 dozen (2-inch) squares

Graham Cracker Crust

2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (15 to 17 crackers, finely ground in a food processor)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Fudge Brownie Filling

6 ounces premium unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into tablespoon-size pieces

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional,for topping)

4 cups (packed) miniature marshmallows (about 8 ounces, for topping)

1. Line a 10 x 15 x 2-inch glass baking dish (sometimes called a roasting pan, p. 10) with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang around the top edge of the pan. Smooth out any big wrinkles in the foil and then lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Prepare the Graham Cracker Crust. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugars in a small bowl. Gradually add the melted butter until the crumbs just hold together when squeezed in your palm. (The crumbs may absorb slightly more or less butter depending on the graham cracker brand.) Press the mixture into an even 1/4-inch-thick layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Run a smooth-bottomed measuring cup over the crust to pack and level it.

4. Mix the Fudge Brownie Filling. Combine the chocolate and butter in a large bowl (about 4-quart capacity) that fits a double boiler. Place the bowl over barely simmering water and stir as needed until the chocolate and butter are melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour, mixing until smooth. Pour the batter on top of the graham cracker crust and level with a small offset spatula.

5. Top and bake. Scatter the chopped nuts evenly over the batter, if desired. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the brownie center comes out with dark, damp crumbs on it. Do not overbake. Set on a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.

6. Distribute the marshmallows evenly over the brownie top. Place the pan under the broiler in the top third of the oven for about 1 minute, or until the marshmallows are puffy and golden brown. Watch carefully and rotate the pan regularly, as the marshmallows can easily burn.Cool until the topping is firm and easily cut without sticking.

7. Remove the brownies from the pan in one block by gently pulling up on the foil overhang or by easing the block out with an offset spatula. Place directly on a cutting board. Remove all foil and trim any uneven edges before cutting into 2-inch squares. For the neatest cuts, use a sharp knife, wiped clean with a warm, damp cloth between slices.

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Table of Contents

7 . . Introduction

10 . That's How the Cookie Crumbles: Cookie Baking Tips

15 . An Affair of the Heart

29. . Spring Fling

47. . Not Your Garden-Variety Garden Party

65. . A Vision in White

81 . . Fun in the Sun

95. . Cookies Cum Laude

109. Cookie Monster

127 . Deck the Halls

142. . Cookie-Cutter Approaches: Basic Recipes

152. . The Sugar on Top: Decorating Techniques

156. . Resources

158. . Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2010

    I am cookie inspired

    Fun, fun, fun. I love this book. I am truley cookie inspired. This is crazy but I kind of want to eat the pages.Thank you Julia for this cookie book. It makes me happy just looking at it. Write another one! Gotta go, I'm going to start baking!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2009

    Incredibly creative book!

    Julia Usher's food styling is truly impressive - both creative and detailed. She takes the traditional concept of a Christmas cookie swap and expands upon it, illustrating the endless opportunities for using cookies to celebrate any occasion throughout the year. I imagine my attempts to duplicate her work will probably fall short of the fabulous photos in this book; however, with the clear and easy to follow instructions provided, I think I may have a shot at success. (And even if I fail, what fun I will have!)

    Overall, "Cookie Swap" is an absolutely beautiful book, full of inspiring recipes and gorgeous photos. This book not only belongs in your kitchen, but on your coffee table as well. This book would make a great gift for any of the "foodies" you may know.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    I love it...

    Very helpful, great pictures.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Miranda

    Miranda is my name

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    Posted April 21, 2012

    Jayden

    Jayden is my name

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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