Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies
Author: Alice Medrich
Publisher: Artisan (2010)
The one thing Medrich’s book does not contain is a gluten-free recipe modifier, so while there may be no wheat in her Golden Kamut Shortbread p. 332 they are not the Christmas cookie of choice for your celiac best friend. There are also few vegan cookies in the book, but Medrich is not out there to proclaim Chewy as a book for any specific diet. The very fact that specific modifiers for several of her recipes should be applauded as a move towards accepting the variety of special needs out there.
My only pressing issue with Chewy is that Medrich’s book is fairly tricky to bake from if money’s tighter than you’d like it to be (like around Christmas, for example!) and you don’t want to shell out for expensive ingredients. While many of the recipes are fairly simple in their design, is there no lack of somewhat more “gourmet” goods, nor is there skimping on the quantities of rich ingredients. Your butter and egg bills, for example, will be significantly higher than normal if you’re not in the habit of purchasing them often! Medrich also seems to adore calling for chocolate and all kinds of nuts in Chewy. Most of the brownies (a weakness of both my taste-testers and I) contain half a pound of unsweetened chocolate for an 8” square pan, though she does (thankfully) include two cocoa-based recipes as well. For everyday bake sales or home snacking, her Cocoa Brownies (p. 222) and Less is More Overnight Brownies (p. 206) are more than passable... in fact, I preferred them to the melted-chocolate filled ones.
One thing I absolutely adored about Medrich’s latest work is her creativity with such an old bake sale treat. Cookies are the kind of dessert or after-school snack that are subject to becoming tiresome, since there really are a finite number of ways to re-purpose your old chocolate chippers. I thoroughly enjoyed picking out some goodies in Chewy to try, though it was agony not to make almost all of them! Luckily for me, I do have a (very) well-stocked pantry and basically had my pick of the lot when it came to selecting my Christmas giveaways. With the nutritionists at school clamouring for something yummy and energy-packed during exams, when I happened upon Medrich’s Honey Hemp Bars (p. 157), I knew I had to try them out. While it took up twice the room (filling the bottom of a 9x13” pan instead of an 8” square), the recipe only gave me 12 bars, rather than her stated 16-20. They were definitely worth the bake though! However, I would definitely exercise caution with these! Expensive ingredients aside (for me the pan came to almost $8), hemp seed and some of the other additions to these rich bars are a bit of an acquired taste. I couldn’t get a single child to try it, but then again when the cereal aisles are chock-full of little more than candy bars I wouldn’t expect puffed millet and date paste to exactly draw them in. As for the adult set? Well, the ones who got a taste certainly enjoyed them – and I say those who got a taste because as soon as the word was out that a bar better than the school’s storebought ones was on the table they disappeared!