101 GOURMET DESSERTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Wendy Paul

gourment dessertsPUB. INFO: Front Table Books, 9/2013
FORMAT: Hardcover, 9781462112616
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: B

From Publisher: 101 Gourmet Desserts for the Holidays is the ultimate recipe collection for the holiday season! Enjoy your Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with unique desserts like Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, and Egg Nog Cheesecake. You can trust these proven recipes by best-selling author Wendy Paul and take the stress out of holiday baking.

Categories: Fruity and Fabulous, The Sweetness of Chocolate, Theme Decorating, Nutty Treats, Flavors of Fall, Sugar and Spice, Holiday Treats, Topping it all Off. Most recipes are for cakes and cookies with a few recipes being for other desserts and a section's just for frostings.

THINGS I'VE MADE
 
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP CANDY CANE COOKIES- This recipe is different, and in a good way. It uses chocolate instant pudding powder. I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of white chocolate chips and I added chopped toasted pecans. I made half and scooped them out with a 1 1/2" diameter scoop and got 27 cookies. They taste great. They aren't too sweet considering they have white and brown sugar, and sugar from the pudding mix in them. I flattened the balls before baking, not after they'd baked, as per the instructions. They took about 11 minutes. The outside is crunchy and the inside is softer. I didn't frost the cookies with melted white chocolate or sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. The recipe calls for no salt so I added 3/8 t. for half the recipe and it wasn't quite enough.
 
You can use any flavor pudding you'd like in here (the author did a different version of these on the internet) and add any type of chip, nut, or dried fruit. I've not had much luck over the years with chocolate cookies. They always taste the same and are never good. This is the best flavored one so far. This recipe is a keeper!
 
I made these again about a month later using vanilla pudding, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans. They were too sweet but tasted alright.
 
FRUITCAKE COOKIES: When I saw the photo of these I knew I had to make them. In addition to a lot of milk this recipe calls for a lot of additives....3 1/4 c. worth. Instead of using orange extract, mixed candied fruit, candied cherries, pecans, and dates I used 1/2 c. chopped sweetened dried cherries, 1/2 c. chopped lightly toasted almonds, vanilla extract, and a drop of almond extract. I used a 1 1/2" diameter cookie scoop and got 27 cookies that were 2 1/2" in diameter after they were baked. I flattened the balls slightly with the bottom of a dry measuring cup before baking. I baked them at a much lower temperature for 11 minutes and they were golden brown on top, more so than other cookies. They were a little too dry due to being over baked so next time I'll give them just 10 minutes. Mine don't look like the photo and have smooth tops.
 
This dough has excellent flavor that's enhanced by the flavor from the browned tops. The butter flavor was very mild. Yay! I love cherries in these, so glad I used them, and will make these again with toasted pecans instead of almonds, more dried cherries, and use shortening, which the recipe originally calls for. I used butter because the author said she makes them with butter and I'd like to try shortening next time.
 
Its been about a month since I made the butter version. I tried this recipe with shortening, 3/4 c. chopped dried cherries, and 3/4 c. pecans. I needed to experiment so I baked just one cookie without flattening it. It didn't spread out much and was pretty much ruined. These don't taste as good as the butter version and they didn't get as brown so I'll stick with the original version.
 
CRANBERRY AND PISTACHIO COOKIES: These were disappointingly bland. No particular flavor to speak of other than cranberry. I used lightly toasted chopped almonds in place of pistachios and scooped them out with a 1 1/2" diameter scoop. They baked in 8 1/2 minutes.
 
MY THOUGHTS: This is a very attractive and useful book. It's hardcover and what you can't see from the outside is that it's spiral bound on the inside and will lay open flat. Don't be put off by the 'holiday' part of the title. There's just a section of recipes that uses canned pumpkin, which is associated with Thanksgiving, and a few recipes that you sprinkle chopped peppermint candies on, with peppermint candy being associated with Christmas time.

There aren't nearly enough photos. I think it's especially important to include many photos of cookies because they don't all look the same. Some are very puffy on top (and I usually avoid making them), some are flat and crisp, ect. I really don't like to make a cookie without having seen the finished product.

I don't like when an author tells us to do something and doesn't explain why. Example: for the Cranberry Pistachio Cookies, she tells us to place the dough balls in the freezer for twenty minutes then bake them bit didn't explain why. Did she try freezing them for a short time because she didn't like the way the un-chilled dough turned out or did she do it just for the heck of it, to see if the cookies would turn out differently? I'd like to know.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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