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Sharing Gifts of Food for Christmas, by the Book : 1988’s Holiday Volumes Address Topics From Cookies to Environmental Toxins

The International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett (Stewart, Tabori & Chang: $24.95, 153 recipes, 256 pp.)

Beyond the brownie and the chocolate chip cookie that Americans are so fond of are 151 equally delightful cookies from cookie jars around the world. The delicious sampling tour can be experienced in the International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett. Illustrated in heartwarming traditional as well as splashy contemporary settings, the cookbook contains over 50 beautiful photographs by noted food photographer Dennis Gottlieb.

The cookie recipes are representative of the most popular choices in nine regions, with an extensive collection from the United States and Canada. A diversified grouping, two of the best-loved goodies from American contributions include: a White Chocolate-Chunk-Macadamia Nut Cookies inspired by a similar cookie in Mrs. Fields’ repertoire; the famous Nanaimo Bars from Canada, which consist of chocolate, coconut and walnut layers with Grand Marnier-buttercream filling.

Gathering sweet cookie memories from her four years of living in Europe and the British Isles, food writer Baggett spells a few of them out into fragrant Florentines and Biscottis from Italy, embossed, anise-scented Springerle from Germany, rich Rum Butter Cookies from Hungary. Recalling one Christmas event in Europe when she helped make a traditional cookie house, inspired Beckett to share a Knusperhaus or Cookie House recipe from Germany. Unlike gingerbread houses made with ginger and molasses, the knusper or “nibbling” is prepared with a honey-spice dough called lebkuchen .

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Other international cookie entries featured in the book are the pistachio shortbread rings of the Middle East, the Scandinavian Kranskake , a tall multi-tiered cookie ring so appropriate for the holidays, Brazilian Coconut Chew, Polvorones from Cuba and chocolate meringue bars from the Soviet Union. Easy to follow, many of the tested recipes featured are geared for holiday eating. Designed to guide the cookie baker is an initial chapter on basic techniques, ingredients and equipment.


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