We all have fond, cookie-shaped memories—whether it be the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven, lunchtime oatmeal raisins, holiday gingerbread, or tangy summer lemon bars. Authors Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin pay homage to the cookie in all its forms in their tasty new book, Fabulous Modern Cookies: Lessons in Better Baking for Next Generation Treats. Their recipes introduce creative taste sensations, textures, and designs that will be the hit of any party or gathering. Their previous best-selling book, The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert, showcased their inventive recipes and techniques.
With bold and fearless suggestions, Taylor and Arguin, scientists turned bakers, explore the deep-in-our-heart love of cookies as well as the philosophy behind them. Does a cookie always have to be round, sweet, or soft? Breaking down the essential rules, ingredients, and equipment needed, Fabulous Modern Cookies demystifies the cookie and provides home bakers with fun and unique cookie recipes.
“We are always asked ‘why a book on cookies?’ For one, we love cookies— but that’s not the only reason. To us, cookies are the most approachable of all desserts,” Chris and Paul state. “For this book we took the vast universe of cookies and tried to expand it even further. We brought a scientific approach using innovative techniques to ensure success in baking regardless of whether you are new to baking or have been elbow-deep in cookie dough for decades. The cookies will still seem familiar (brownies, bars, drop cookies, cookie- cutter cookies, and the like) but with new and exciting flavors.”
Filled with 100 recipes, Chris and Paul also provide “Cookie Bytes” – short tips, tricks, helpful techniques, and explanations to demystify the science of baking. The recipes are grouped in chapters like Bar Cookies; Drop Cookies; Rolled Cookies; Filled, Stuffed and Sandwiched Cookies; Savory Cookies and Slice-and-Bake Cookies. Some of the recipes in the book include:
- Whiskey-Lemon Sweet Potato Squares
- Salted Caramel Sugar Cookies / Chewy Malted Vanilla Variation
- Escapes (The Pina Colada Oatmeal Cookies)
- Teatime Stamped Shortbread
- Pumpkin Snickercrinkles
- Peanut Butter Cup Cut-Out Cookies
- Stollen Glances
- Grapefruit and Pistachio Stained-Glass Slices
- Elderflower Dainties
- Cucumber Cheesecake Everything Bagel Bars
- Mai Tai Cremes
- Jam-on-Toast Thumbprints
- Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches
“Cookies are so amazingly diverse and amazingly adaptable— simple doughs can be augmented with fun flavors and textures, elevating them to new heights. Our goal with Fabulous Modern Cookies is to entice and teach fellow cookie lovers and bakers of all stripes to make delicious, foolproof cookies and introduce new flavors that bakers can use to share with friends, wow at parties, and create new memories with their families.”
This holiday season give the gift of fun and amazing cookies with Fabulous Modern Cookies.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin are scientists who used their backgrounds to develop logical and reliable recipes that transform what they consider to be the most approachable baked goods.
The couple met through a mutual friend in 2009. They were states apart at the time, so the two picked a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible to bake together over the phone for their first date. Taylor selected the complex but stunning Scarlet Empress, and the blue-ribbon baking duo was born. They married in 2014.
Chris Taylor (right) is a full-time epidemiologist but is also a pie master and talented pastry decorator. His Peanut Butter Checkerboard pie won Best of Show in the 2017 amateur division of the National Pie Championships. Paul Arguin (left) is a double-board certified MD. Both are self-taught bakers with a passion for pies, cookies, and competitive baking, and run a boutique baking business, Flour Sugar Butter, LLC. Their previous baking book is The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert. They live in Atlanta, Georgia and can be found on social media @floursugarbutter.
This fall try this unique recipe of mock apple pie cookies.
Recipe and Photo reprinted with permission from
FABULOUS MODERN COOKIES: Lessons in Better Baking for Next Generation Treats
By Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin
Countryman Press/April 2022
MAKES 22 (11 / 2-INCH) COOKIES
At one time, boxes of Ritz crackers always had a recipe card on the back for mock apple pie. The recipe’s claim was that you could boil(!) some buttery crackers in water and add cream of tartar and a few spices to create a faux apple pie that was nearly as good as the original. As devoted (and award-winning) pie bakers, that claim seemed absurd to us. Could this possibly be true? How could a pile of wet crackers create the illusion of apple pie? The secret is in the cream of tartar. We keep that white powder in our pantries for adding just a pinch to our stiff- peaked egg whites. Turns out that when used in larger quantities, it is not only a convenient source of acid but a flavoring agent that is close enough to the taste of a tart apple to provide an ideal basis for the deception. With the addition of some nuts and a sprinkling of fall spices, the mirage is . . . close flavor-wise, but should never actually fool anyone who is remotely familiar with an actual apple pie. Here we used this surprisingly effective deception to make mock apple pie cookies. With a satisfying crunch, we’ve transformed this back- of- the box sorcery into a 21st- century delight.
40 crackers (133g) Ritz crackers
¾ cup (71g) Pecan halves, toasted and cooled (see Note)
½ cup (100g) Light brown sugar Packed
½ teaspoon Cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
1 large (35g) Egg white
1 tablespoon Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 tablespoons (57g) Unsalted butter, melted and cooled but still pourable
- Position two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350°F. Line two 18- by- 13- inch baking
sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Place the crackers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are small crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl. Add the pecans to the food processor and coarsely grind them as well. Add the ground nuts to the bowl with the cracker crumbs. (Alternatively, the crackers can be crushed by hand directly in the bowl and the pecans can be chopped by hand.)
- Add the brown sugar, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the bowl. Mix these dry ingredients together by hand, using a silicone spatula. Add the egg white, lemon juice, and melted butter and mix until the dry ingredients have all been moistened and the mixture has formed into a cohesive clump. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes before scooping.
- Portion 1 tablespoon (18 grams) of dough, using a #60 scoop, roll into balls, and evenly arrange 13 portions on the first baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingertips. Repeat with the remaining dough and arrange on the second baking sheet.
- Bake until cookie edges are set and just beginning to brown, 13 to 17 minutes. Halfway through baking, rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. After cooling, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
NOTE: For most of the recipes in this book, we call for using toasted nuts. Toasting brings out more of the delightful nutty flavor. The nuts have to be toasted and cooled before adding to the cookie dough or batter, or the nuts will lack flavor in the finished cookie. Be mindful that roasted nuts (like most of the canned nuts sold in the supermarket) are not the same as toasted nuts. Commercially roasted nuts often have additional salt and oil added as part of the roasting process. Toasted nuts are raw nuts that are toasted to a light golden brown. To toast nuts, spread raw nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until the nuts are fragrant and light brown, about 7 minutes. Nuts can also be toasted in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat.