Christmas Cookies

Last year, I signed up for Harper Collins First Look program, which sends out advance reading copies of books for review. I’ve signed up to get a couple of different things, but the first book that I was selected to review is Lisa Zwirn’s Christmas Cookies. In a case of somewhat unfortunately timing, it came this week. On the other hand–when is it a bad time to eat a cookie? While I don’t go around making gingerbread in July, it’s certainly possible to bake cookies out of this book year-round.

Initially I groaned–I had done so much holiday baking, and it really didn’t seem fair to review a cookbook without at least making one recipe. I started leafing through, and there were a few cookies that caught my eye, but I definitely wasn’t in the mood for doing any kind of fussy or fancy baking. I decided to make a drop cookie, since those are generally simple.

Her Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies were a delight–very simple to prepare, light and buttery. The only thing I needed to get at the store were the pecans–everything else we had in our kitchen–I hate it when a cookbook requires that you scour the earth for eggnog spice mix, or hemp-washed ginger*, or something weird. My kids liked them, although they both professed their hatred of the pecan during the preparation phase.

Generally, it’s a cleanly-laid out, readable cookbook. Her opening sections on basic cookie-making and preparation were helpful, and not overly-filled with advice like “use high-quality ingredients” (duh!). I found especially helpful the advice on storing different kinds of cookies, and it’s great that she points out which of her recipes make dough that’s good for freezing and baking later.

The one complaint I had is that not every recipe is accompanied by a picture–for regular cookies, that doesn’t bother me much, but for Christmas cookies–if I’m gonna give them as gifts, I want to see what they’re supposed to look like in advance. On the whole, if you’re looking to change up your Christmas cookie repertoire, or just add a new favorite or two, check this one out.


January 11, 2009. books for grown-ups.


  1. jackie replied:

    I agree with you– I used a cookbook of Christmas cookies (Southern Living) for the first time this year, and it would be nice to have photos of all the cookies. Christmas cookies are more about presentation than lunchbox or cookie jar cookies.

    Also, thanks for the tip on the program, I just signed up!

  2. Mere replied:

    Thanks for the review. I LOVE making holiday cookies (I like to modify the recipes in Baking Illustrated), but I’m always looking for new ones to add. I’ll have to check out this book. Oh and I always freeze my batter. Nothing like cookies made from scratch without all the fuss!

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