Cookie Cookbook (Country Kitchen Collection, 1985)


Cookie Cookbook is another entry in The Country Kitchen Collection; Jean Childress’ large library of very small cookbooks. As one might imagine this volume focuses exclusively on cookies: twenty-eight recipes in all, hand-lettered and simply illustrated in keeping with the rest of the series.

I frankly find it hard to get excited about cookies. We have fresh chocolate chip cookies several times a month. My spouse has worked out a recipe that makes them exactly the way I like them – medium rare in the middle but not too greasy. This, and the occasional Oreo, are more than enough to satisfy my usual cookie quota. I do enjoy a good Christmas cookie exchange, where I get to sample other homemade cookies, but learning to make those cookies myself doesn’t exactly spark joy.

Which is why I appreciate the Cookie Cookbook. Consistent with the series’ ethic the recipes are simple, and one can whip up a batch of cookies in a half hour or so. Childress knows her way around the kitchen so I don’t have to waste time refining recipes, and the collection is well-balanced. There’s a roughly equal mix of traditional cookies, eclectic takes on the traditional, and a satisfying collection of brightly flavored treats built around fresh fruit and toasted nuts.

These fruit cookies are really the reason to hunt this one down. The Fresh Apple Cookies taste like breakfast in the mountains – a nutty mix of walnuts, apples, and dried fruit. (The original recipe calls for raisins, but I’ll usually use dried apricots or even dried apples) The raspberry meringue bars are elegant and fun, and endlessly adjustable to work with whatever jam you have on hand.

A recipe that perhaps best sums up Cookie Cookbook is the Lemon Blueberry Bars.  It’s not the tastiest cookie in the book nor is it the most ingenious, but it captures everything I like about Cookie Cookbook in one short recipe.  It’s a simple bar cookie livened up with a healthy dose of fresh blueberries, and the deliciously retro use of cook-n-serve pudding as an ingredient.  It illustrates perfectly Ms. Childress’ penchant for livening up old Good Housekeeping standards with fresh, bright flavors.  It’s also stupid simple to make.

There’s not anything that really needs fixing in the original recipe, but I can’t resist pairing blueberries with fresh basil.   Blueberries accentuate the floral qualities in the basil, and the final product seems to fit the fresh-from-the-garden vibe of the original.  I think Ms. Childress would approve.

Lemon-Basil-Blueberry Bars (adapted from Cookie Cookbook)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 40 min
  • Ready in: 55 min
  • For: 12 bars

Ingredients

For the crust:

For the filling:

Instructions

For the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix flour, sugar, and salt (if desired) in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until mixture is uniform and resembles small pea-sized crumbs. Press into the bottom of a small glass baking dish (mine is 7 x 11) and cook 15 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. Whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon rind, and butter. Pour in the dry pudding mix and basil and stir, then fold in blueberries.
  2. When the crust is cooked, spread the filling evenly across the top. It will form a very thin layer, about the thickness of a single blueberry. Return to the oven and bake 20 - 30 minutes until edges are browned and center is cooked through (it will look a little bit bubbly).
  3. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

 


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