Julia M Usher's Ultimate Cookies

Julia M Usher's Ultimate Cookies

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by Julia M. Usher
     
 

Praise for Cookie Swap

“Usher produces a wealth of eye-catching bakery, decoration and entertainment ideas for hosts of all experience levels. . . . sure to appeal to fans of the Barefoot Contessa and Martha Stewart.” —Publishers Weekly

“Her whimsical designs and ideas make this book as fun as it is informative. Open it to any

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Overview

Praise for Cookie Swap

“Usher produces a wealth of eye-catching bakery, decoration and entertainment ideas for hosts of all experience levels. . . . sure to appeal to fans of the Barefoot Contessa and Martha Stewart.” —Publishers Weekly

“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)

“Move over, Martha. This book, with its cute-named cookies, stunning food styling, and personalized party ideas, establishes Usher as a serious pastry party authority.” —YumSugar

“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, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

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Editorial Reviews

Kerry Vincent

This time the clever cookie comes in the guise of Julia Usher. [I] love the fact that she has created an instructional book with clear intent, [and] thoughtful and excellent recipes topped with quality decorations. I see a lot of adequate decorating out there, but this work is inspirational. Cupcakes had better not rest on their laurels: I can easily be persuaded to put them aside when enticed by the decorative crumbs of Julia's cookies. Beautiful book, beautiful work . . . [I] recommend to all edible artists.

Colette's Cakes

This really is the ULTIMATE cookie book. Whimsical, elegant, colorful and creative!! What more could you ask for? You will not be disappointed.

— Colette Peters

Dessert Professional

Julia Usher is the most talented and creative cookie decorator I know. Her techniques are flawless, as are her beautiful cookies, and this book is the ultimate reference for beginners as well as seasoned cookie decorators. Flip through these pages and you'll soon find yourself in the kitchen, creating awe-inspiring edible works of art and decorating like a pro.

— Tish Boyle, Editor

Sweetopia.net

Astonishingly beautiful cookie creations with effective, user-friendly explanations make Ultimate Cookies an absolute must-have resource for experienced and new decorators alike. Every page is an absolute delight!

— Marian Poirier

Suburan Journals

Julia M. Usher connects her love for creative baking to her mother's kitchen. Her latest book, "Ultimate Cookies" (Gibbs Smith, $24.99) provides cookie projects that put a sweet face on any season, but appropriately tugs heartstrings when cookies fill a traditional role this time of year.

"There is always this notion about so much to do and not enough time. I would urge people to slow down and savor this time in the kitchen. You shouldn't shortchange these expressions of love and sharing. Each of these are home treasures. They are gifts that mark an occasion," she said.

Her new book follows impressions from touring the country with her original "Cookie Swap" book, which won three Cordon d'Or Culinary Academy Awards.

"It was a natural jump-off. In the first one, there were decorative cookies that weren't fully explained and the question was how do you decorate them," she said. The Webster Groves resident, who created one-of-a-kind cake sensations for seven years in her bakery AzucArte, is president-elect of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

She developed projects one-at-a-time for the book. Local photographer Steve Adams demonstrates processes and results.

"I make it accessible. For those who might be intimidated, there are levels of sophistication one to three. I suggest becoming fully devoted to the techniques, which work forever, in the beginning of the book. Each one also offers some faster alternatives," Usher said. She lists tools and equipment for both starter and seasoned decorator.

She includes favorite recipes for cutout sugar cookies, shortbread and gingerbread and flavor variations, plus chocolate and blonde brownies, "macarons," meringues, bendable tuiles, fillings and frostings.

She displays 20 cookie cutters, but her total collection is about 1,000. She finds open tin cutters make cleaner cuts over heavier, blunt copper ones with handles. Her goal is baking a flat, well-shaped, even cookie canvas. They are used in "Holiday Yummies," which include place cards and ornaments, as well as her favorite 3-D projects of snow globes, sleds and trees.

Usher adds shortening to butter to improve shape and crispness in her cookies. Evenly rolling them 1/8- to 3/16-inch thick minimizes domed centers. She likes to cut and bake cookies on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat atop an upside-down cookie sheet.

Chilled dough rolls best. She prefers mixing two batches at a time, to switch one bowl into the freezer for a super-chill while rolling dough from the other. An offset spatula - its blade is offset from the handle at about a 45-degree angle - helps transfer delicate cookies without cracking. When she has the "luxury of time," she bakes one pan at a time to avoid uneven browning.

On book tour, Usher stows three overweight suitcases. One of her carryons is a tiered cupcake caddy holding 80 cookies to stow overhead or under her seat.

Her appreciation of Royal Icing's flexibility for decorating stems from her cake-baking days.

— Janice Denham

My Recipes.com

When I heard the title of Julia Usher's new cookbook, Ultimate Cookies, I was expecting to see crisp cookies, chewy cookies, and a smattering of every possible type of cookie known to man-- chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, sugar... you get the picture. What I wasn't expecting was that her book, released in November 2011, would be as clearly written as a how-to book, as inspirational as a cooking show, and so completely lick-the-page gorgeous that I'd want to use it as a coffee table book.

Don't believe me? Just get ready. I contacted the publisher and asked them to share a few photos from the book with our loyal blog readers and they sent my two favorites for the holiday season: Snow Globes and Snow Honeys. How do I love these cookies? Let me count the ways, starting with Snow Globes.

One of the things I love about Ultimate Cookies is that the book makes it easy for you by providing you with a clear ingredient list and a mini "Prep Talk", which offers a fun and helpful tip for cookie making. It even offers Complexity Levels, so you'll know just how challenging a recipe may be (this one is a 2 on a scale of 1 to 3).

Here, you see them in all their red-and-green Christmas glory, but the great news is that they can be made for anything, like a shower or a tea, and used as a both a dessert and a place marker. Check them out when they're done in pastels-- no snowy feeling here!

While I'm a sucker for a cookie with a Santa scene, my heart skipped a beat when I saw these Snow Honeys: Lucky for us, Ultimate Cookies takes us through the steps, starting with Goofproof Macarons, to making these delicious cookies-turned-tablescapes...and includes photos to show the more difficult tasks, like making the Snowman's scarf.

I'll admit it: I love cookbooks. I love to read them, look at their pictures, and dream about making delicious treats, then get to work making them. Ultimate Cookies gave me great ideas for birthday parties (cookies shaped like purses!), April Fool's Day (cookies that look like spaghetti and meatballs!), and cookies to bake with my nieces (hello, butterflies!).

The best part of this cookbook is that you see several photos of each cookie during the icing process and that the author detailed everything you'd need to know in the front of the book. From baking lingo to tools to styles of icings, she's covered everything, meaning that you never have to run for you iPad mid-cookie prep. Next time you're thinking cake for a birthday or store-bought favors, create one of these delicious treats instead.

— Ashley Kappel

Suburan Journals - Janice Denham

Julia M. Usher connects her love for creative baking to her mother's kitchen. Her latest book, "Ultimate Cookies" (Gibbs Smith, $24.99) provides cookie projects that put a sweet face on any season, but appropriately tugs heartstrings when cookies fill a traditional role this time of year.

"There is always this notion about so much to do and not enough time. I would urge people to slow down and savor this time in the kitchen. You shouldn't shortchange these expressions of love and sharing. Each of these are home treasures. They are gifts that mark an occasion," she said.

Her new book follows impressions from touring the country with her original "Cookie Swap" book, which won three Cordon d'Or Culinary Academy Awards.

"It was a natural jump-off. In the first one, there were decorative cookies that weren't fully explained and the question was how do you decorate them," she said. The Webster Groves resident, who created one-of-a-kind cake sensations for seven years in her bakery AzucArte, is president-elect of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

She developed projects one-at-a-time for the book. Local photographer Steve Adams demonstrates processes and results.

"I make it accessible. For those who might be intimidated, there are levels of sophistication one to three. I suggest becoming fully devoted to the techniques, which work forever, in the beginning of the book. Each one also offers some faster alternatives," Usher said. She lists tools and equipment for both starter and seasoned decorator.

She includes favorite recipes for cutout sugar cookies, shortbread and gingerbread and flavor variations, plus chocolate and blonde brownies, "macarons," meringues, bendable tuiles, fillings and frostings.

She displays 20 cookie cutters, but her total collection is about 1,000. She finds open tin cutters make cleaner cuts over heavier, blunt copper ones with handles. Her goal is baking a flat, well-shaped, even cookie canvas. They are used in "Holiday Yummies," which include place cards and ornaments, as well as her favorite 3-D projects of snow globes, sleds and trees.

Usher adds shortening to butter to improve shape and crispness in her cookies. Evenly rolling them 1/8- to 3/16-inch thick minimizes domed centers. She likes to cut and bake cookies on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat atop an upside-down cookie sheet.

Chilled dough rolls best. She prefers mixing two batches at a time, to switch one bowl into the freezer for a super-chill while rolling dough from the other. An offset spatula — its blade is offset from the handle at about a 45-degree angle — helps transfer delicate cookies without cracking. When she has the "luxury of time," she bakes one pan at a time to avoid uneven browning.

On book tour, Usher stows three overweight suitcases. One of her carryons is a tiered cupcake caddy holding 80 cookies to stow overhead or under her seat.

Her appreciation of Royal Icing's flexibility for decorating stems from her cake-baking days.

Fancy Flours, Inc - Nancy Quist

Julia Usher has integrated insane creativity with a passion for cookie decorating to produce one of the most inspirational sugar art books ever printed. Ultimate Cookies delivers a lip-smacking guide to creating gorgeous cookies for any season.

Colette's Cakes - Colette Peters

This really is the ULTIMATE cookie book. Whimsical, elegant, colorful and creative!! What more could you ask for? You will not be disappointed.

My Recipes.com - Ashley Kappel

When I heard the title of Julia Usher's new cookbook, Ultimate Cookies, I was expecting to see crisp cookies, chewy cookies, and a smattering of every possible type of cookie known to man-- chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, sugar... you get the picture. What I wasn't expecting was that her book, released in November 2011, would be as clearly written as a how-to book, as inspirational as a cooking show, and so completely lick-the-page gorgeous that I'd want to use it as a coffee table book.

Don't believe me? Just get ready. I contacted the publisher and asked them to share a few photos from the book with our loyal blog readers and they sent my two favorites for the holiday season: Snow Globes and Snow Honeys. How do I love these cookies? Let me count the ways, starting with Snow Globes.

One of the things I love about Ultimate Cookies is that the book makes it easy for you by providing you with a clear ingredient list and a mini "Prep Talk", which offers a fun and helpful tip for cookie making. It even offers Complexity Levels, so you'll know just how challenging a recipe may be (this one is a 2 on a scale of 1 to 3).

Here, you see them in all their red-and-green Christmas glory, but the great news is that they can be made for anything, like a shower or a tea, and used as a both a dessert and a place marker. Check them out when they're done in pastels-- no snowy feeling here!

While I'm a sucker for a cookie with a Santa scene, my heart skipped a beat when I saw these Snow Honeys: Lucky for us, Ultimate Cookies takes us through the steps, starting with Goofproof Macarons, to making these delicious cookies-turned-tablescapes...and includes photos to show the more difficult tasks, like making the Snowman's scarf.

I'll admit it: I love cookbooks. I love to read them, look at their pictures, and dream about making delicious treats, then get to work making them. Ultimate Cookies gave me great ideas for birthday parties (cookies shaped like purses!), April Fool's Day (cookies that look like spaghetti and meatballs!), and cookies to bake with my nieces (hello, butterflies!).

The best part of this cookbook is that you see several photos of each cookie during the icing process and that the author detailed everything you'd need to know in the front of the book. From baking lingo to tools to styles of icings, she's covered everything, meaning that you never have to run for you iPad mid-cookie prep. Next time you're thinking cake for a birthday or store-bought favors, create one of these delicious treats instead.

Dessert Professional - Tish Boyle

Julia Usher is the most talented and creative cookie decorator I know. Her techniques are flawless, as are her beautiful cookies, and this book is the ultimate reference for beginners as well as seasoned cookie decorators. Flip through these pages and you'll soon find yourself in the kitchen, creating awe-inspiring edible works of art and decorating like a pro.

Sweetopia.net - Marian Poirier

Astonishingly beautiful cookie creations with effective, user-friendly explanations make Ultimate Cookies an absolute must-have resource for experienced and new decorators alike. Every page is an absolute delight!

Library Journal
Usher's award-winning first book, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats To Share Throughout the Year, is a tough act to follow, but once again she delivers. Her latest title is not for slice-and-bake aficionados but for those who want to express themselves in butter, sugar, and homemade ingredients. Usher begins by introducing the basic tools needed and even gives tips on creating homemade implements, such as a parchment cone, to keep the budget low. Next she describes 15 main decorating techniques, accompanied by sumptuous photos that will inspire even the most hesitant beginner. Each project that follows includes step-by-step instructions and photos. With intriguing and distinctive content, this is a great addition. Though paperback, it is large and well constructed, with strong, lustrous paper that should hold up through many circulations.—Jane Hebert, Mount Juliet, TN

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423619345
Publisher:
Smith, Gibbs Publisher
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
274,060
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

butterflies

Land one of these supersized treats in your tummy, and you’ll be flying high for quite some time. Trace the outline of a large butterfly cookie cutter and then blow it up 150 percent to make the templates for these giant moth and butterfly wing designs.

Makes about 6 moths or butterflies, 4.75 to 5.75 x 5.75-inches each

14 ounces (about 1/4 recipe) Cutout Cookie Gingerbread (p. 213)

Custom template, for wings (See Step 1, p. 108)

1/2-inch to 6/8-inch plain round cookie cutter (or pastry tip)

About 4 1/4 cups Royal Icing (p. 225), divided; quantity will vary with number of marbling colors mixed

Black and other soft gel food coloring (p. 248), colors of your choice

Parchment pastry cones (p. 248) or disposable plastic piping bags

Toothpicks or trussing needle

About 6 (1/2-inch) gumballs (1 per moth), for heads

About 6 wire stamens normally used for gumpaste flowers (1 per moth, p. 248; must be removed before eating), for antennae (optional)

Stand-in: If time is of the essence, make flat moths using a standard-size butterfly cookie cutter. You can also substitute store-bought candies for the iced and filled cookies used to make the butterfly bodies, pictured on page 12. Here I used a combination of Skittles (for the heads and the first four segments of the bodies) and mini M&Ms (for the tails).

Marbling and Detailing a Wing. (1) Outline the wing with thick black Royal Icing. (Divide the wing in two parts and work on one part at a time.) Apply relatively heavy patches of icing within the outline. The colors should just touch one another. (2) Pipe thin lines of black icing on top. The cookies pictured have three lines—one on the blue icing and two more on the yellow, close to the edge of the wing. (3) Use a toothpick to draw several lines starting at the edge of the wing and ending in the center. (4) Add dots with icing of beadwork consistency. (5) Repeat to complete the other half of the wing.

4. Outline the wings. Tint the remaining 1/2 cup icing black; then thin to outlining consistency following the instructions on page 226. Fill a parchment pastry cone with the icing and cut a small hole (about 1/16-inch) in the tip of the cone. Outline around the perimeter of each wing. Let the outlines dry to the touch before marbling the wings.
Note: Though I typically don'ft outline cookies before top-coating, I like to outline when marbling with many colors, since the larger amount of icing on top is more likely to flow off. If the icing flows off, the marbled pattern will distort. For large cookies such as these, divide the top and bottom of the wings with the outline and marble each area separately. The icing is less likely to set up as you work if you marble a smaller area at a time.

5. Marble the wings. Thin the 2 1/2 cups icing reserved for marbling to the proper consistency (p. 226). Divide evenly into about 5 portions and tint each portion. (High-contrast colors work best for marbling.) Fill one parchment pastry cone for each of the marbling colors and cut a small hole (about 1/16-inch) in the tip of each cone.
Work on one wing at a time. Start with the upper half of the wing. Apply colors in an alternating pattern so that they completely fill the interior of this portion of the wing. (The surface of the icing should be very smooth, as if it had been simply top-coated.) Immediately run a toothpick or trussing needle through all of the colors to create a marbled pattern of your choice. Marble the bottom half of the wing using the same process.

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What People are saying about this

Kerry Vincent
This time the clever cookie comes in the guise of Julia Usher. [I] love the fact that she has created an instructional book with clear intent, [and] thoughtful and excellent recipes topped with quality decorations. I see a lot of adequate decorating out there, but this work is inspirational. Cupcakes had better not rest on their laurels: I can easily be persuaded to put them aside when enticed by the decorative crumbs of Julia's cookies. Beautiful book, beautiful work . . . [I] recommend to all edible artists.

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