By Mimi Council
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With its “baking 101” approach, Cookies for Everyone has something for every baker — naturally gluten-free recipes, with easy swaps for vegan or nut-free options, even including instructions for baking at any altitude.
Mimi’s Tips and Tricks walk readers through key steps and techniques, demystifying baking; her clear instructions cover everything from basic cookies to sandwich cookies and biscotti. And for anyone who thinks more sophisticated cookies (such as macarons and Florentines) are impossible to make at home, let alone for “special diets,” think again — Mimi’s excellent counsel will have you baking up a storm in no time.
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INTRODUCTION: ONE SMART COOKIE
MY NAME IS MIMI AND I’VE NEVER MET A COOKIE I DIDN’T LIKE. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been sneaking, eating, snacking on, baking, and creating cookies. When I was growing up, cookies were a forbidden treat and that’s probably why I’ve always been so obsessed—I never knew when I’d get my next cookie fix. Even as I’ve gotten older and know I can eat cookies daily (which I do), the little kid inside me is worried I might not get one. So I turned my passion and obsession into my business. I make sure everyone has the opportunity to get their cookie fix by stopping by my bakery, Dessert’D Organic Bake Shop.
I started baking cookies as soon as I was old enough to follow a recipe. To be honest, it was all part of my master plan to eat more cookies. My mom didn’t allow a lot of sweets in our house, and there were strict rules about when we could and couldn’t eat desserts. If we were hungry and it wasn’t time for a meal, we were encouraged to eat healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables, string cheese, or a glass of milk. We always had healthy meals, and my mom cooked them from scratch every night. That means she was in the kitchen a lot. She encouraged us to help her cook, because she felt that if we were in the kitchen we were learning something—like how to read, how to follow instructions, and how to create something. That’s how I started baking cookies and eating cookies with high-quality ingredients—according to Mom. And so my obsession blossomed.
I continued to bake cookies throughout my teenage years, but when I was seventeen years old I graduated high school early “to live in the mountains and snowboard every day” in lieu of going to college. The day after graduation, I packed my car and moved cross-country from the Midwest to Mammoth Lakes, California. And I took my cookie recipes with me, in a small blue recipe box. Living at eight thousand feet made me quickly learn to adjust my recipes in order to bake them at high altitude so I could continue to enjoy freshly baked cookies.
As time passed, I stopped being a ski bum and got a “real” job at Roxy, an action-sports company, which took me to sea-level Huntington Beach, California. I was working in the industry that I loved, and I was making enough money to stock my kitchen with cookie-baking ingredients at all times. This was when my cookie baking really spiraled out of control. I quickly became known to my friends as Mimi Cookies, because I took them everywhere I went.
Then I was commissioned by a friend to bake cookies for her wedding. She was gluten-free and was having a hard time finding good options. I said yes immediately, even though I had never made gluten-free cookies before. But I thought, how hard could they be? I knew I’d figure it out. I test baked a few batches and let her try them before we settled on a couple of flavors for her wedding. I soon realized I had other friends that were gluten-free as well, so gluten-free cookies became one of my specialties.
After five years of working at Roxy, I realized that although I loved action sports, it just wasn’t my true passion. I really wanted to be spending my days baking. My boyfriend, Delaney, who came to Huntington Beach from Maui, was also ready for a change of scenery. This led us back to the quaint mountain town of Mammoth Lakes. Once we resettled there, it became clear that the town needed a place where locals could go to indulge in something sweet. It was the perfect time and place to open a bakery, the bakery that until now I had only dreamed about. My vision was to open a bakery that served nothing but cookies. Peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, coconut cookies, cookies with nuts, cookies without nuts, sweet and salty cookies, cookies with frosting, and many more. I shared my plan with a friend, not knowing that she and her husband would end up turning into my business partners. Their involvement gave me the extra capital I needed to make it all happen. Soon thereafter, Dessert’D Organic Bake Shop was born, and Kimmy and Chris Benchetler have been part owners ever since. Six crazy weeks later, our doors were open and, true to my dream, we served nothing but cookies! (And milk, of course.) Slowly our menu expanded from soft and chewy cookies only to include French macarons. Then we added shortbreads and sandwich cookies. Not long after that came cookie pies and Florentines. Sure, we mixed in some cakes, pies, and ice cream, but our main focus is, and always will be, cookies. As our bake shop continued to grow we brought on another couple, Matt and Thea Zobel, as investors.
I think part of growing and evolving is sharing—sharing knowledge, lessons learned, and methods that work. Now that the bakery was doing so well, it made me think about what I should do next. And that’s why I decided to write this book. I want to share with you my tried and true cookie recipes. Some are from that little blue recipe box I’ve had with me since I was young. These are the ones I created for the people I love, like my dad, who inspired Dad’s Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (here), the “cookie that started it all.” It was the first cookie I learned to bake at high altitude. It was the cookie I baked for all my new friends in Mammoth when I moved away from home, the friends who became my family. It was the cookie I shared with Delaney and all my friends at Roxy. It was the cookie that, when my friends tasted it, they praised it and said I should open a bakery. And it’s still one of my favorite cookies today.
In addition to sharing my favorite recipes, I am going to show you that baking gluten-free cookies is just as easy as baking regular cookies. Just because someone can’t eat wheat doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy cookies. And you can give these cookies to anyone, because I promise you, they won’t even know they are gluten-free! I’m also going to reveal that baking at high altitude is just as easy as baking at sea level or anywhere in between. Just because you live at eight thousand feet you don’t have to put up with flat cookies. I’ll show you that many cookie recipes can be made vegan. No need for dairy or eggs to make an indulgent and absolutely delicious cookie, just like my Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies (here). It’s all about having a recipe that works, and my recipes work.
I’ve organized the chapters to start with my easiest recipes first. As you hone your cookie-baking skills, you can move deeper into the book, and by the end you’ll be ready for the more challenging recipes, like French macarons. The recipes within each chapter go from easiest to hardest as well.
Finally, like my mom, I believe in healthy eating, so I only use natural and organic ingredients. Pure, clean, and organic ingredients make up the best things—cookies included. I think everyone should be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of eating a well-baked cookie, one free of processed ingredients and artificial colors. I opened a bakery so people could get their cookie fix. And I want everyone to be able to enjoy them, whether they are gluten-free, they are vegan, they love chocolate, they hate chocolate, they’re allergic to nuts, or they will eat a cookie only if it has frosting. Whatever kind of cookie you love, I’ve got you covered.
ONLY A FEW SIMPLE INGREDIENTS ARE NEEDED TO MAKE COOKIES. Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked so you’ll always be ready to whip up a batch.
Farm and Fridge
Most of these ingredients might already be in your fridge. Here I talk about my favorite kinds.
Butter is a key ingredient in cookies. I use butter in every single cookie (except for the vegan ones, of course!). At Dessert’D all our recipes are made with organic salted butter. My mom only had salted butter in our house when I was growing up, because she was a cook and not a baker. She hated unsalted butter, and now I know why—I mean, who wants to eat unsalted butter on their toast? When I started baking I used what we had at home, salted butter, and I’ve never changed that. If you prefer, you can use organic unsalted butter, but then you may want to add a little more salt to the recipes to get them to your liking. It’s always best to get butter fresh from a farm if you can, but I know that is not always possible. I obsess over fresh butter when I can get it. The rest of the time I am forced to go to the market like everyone else. All butter can taste a little different, so find one you like and stick with it.
The recipes in this book call for large organic eggs (with the exception of Crack Butter Cookies, here). If you can’t find large eggs and only can get medium or extra-large, you can beat the eggs and then weigh them so you get the right amount. Too much egg can make your cookie dough very sticky and difficult to work with; too little can make it dry. One large egg weighs about 50 grams out of its shell. If you’re using a different-size egg, just multiply how many eggs you need by 50 grams, and weigh your eggs after they are cracked and beaten, which will give you the correct amount of egg you need. You can always use any extra egg for breakfast the following morning.
I love to use fresh fruits, preferably from a farmers’ market, but I live in a town that is four square miles in size, and we rarely have them. If I leave town and go to the beach, I love going to the farmers’ market there, and I’ll load up on everything I can. But you can still get amazing fruit at your local grocery store if you know what you’re looking for. The best thing is to use fruit that is in season. If you want to make Blueberry French Macarons (here) and it’s not blueberry season, I suggest using frozen organic blueberries instead of buying subpar fresh ones. Fruit is frozen at its peak freshness, so don’t be afraid of frozen fruit. Sometimes it’s even better than what you can find fresh at the time. If you’re making Strawberry Preserves (here), you can use frozen instead of fresh. But for the Lemon-Frosted Blueberry Cookies (here), it’s better to use fresh because frozen berries have way more moisture in them. If you’re going to use frozen berries for that recipe, thaw them in a mesh strainer overnight in the fridge—you’ll see how much liquid comes out. Then you can use the thawed, drained berries in the cookies.
Milk and Cream
The recipes in this book that call for milk are meant to be made with organic whole milk. In a pinch you can substitute 2 percent, but never skim. You can also substitute unsweetened vanilla coconut milk for cow’s milk in any recipe. Organic heavy whipping cream is another staple that we use a lot at Dessert’D. Our favorite brand is Organic Valley, but there are many others out there that are just as good.
There are a few basic pantry staples I make sure to always have on hand.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Always check the dates on baking powder and baking soda. They quickly lose their strength after expiration. I prefer to buy aluminum-free versions; my favorites are from Frontier Co-Op.
Cocoa and Chocolate
My recipes use organic Dutch cocoa powder. I like the taste and richness of Dutch cocoa better than natural, which I feel is a little less sweet. If you prefer natural, you can use that instead. When choosing chocolate to bake with, it all comes down to taste. If you don’t like the taste of the chocolate, you shouldn’t bake with it. Choose organic milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and semisweet chocolate that you like to eat on its own. My favorites are SunSpire Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, which you can find at your local market. And Mama Ganache is great for organic milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. Their dark chocolate is 70 percent, which I find strikes a nice balance between bitter and just sweet enough for cookies. Find them at www.mamaganache.com.
There is only one kind of organic corn syrup on the market these days, and it’s made by Wholesome. This is the one you should get for all recipes. It is called Organic Light Corn Syrup. You’ll need to have it on hand for making Florentines.
Flavors and Extracts
Flavors and extracts are different things, and though many people think they are interchangeable, they are not. A flavor is less concentrated than an extract. If you’re going to substitute one for the other, make sure you’re doing it correctly. For any of the recipes in this book, use this formula:
1 TEASPOON EXTRACT = 2 TEASPOONS FLAVOR
Flavors and extracts can also make or break your desserts as far as the flavor profile is concerned. Make sure you buy pure, organic flavors, and not ones that are labeled as syrups or imitation. There are lots of different brands out there for standard flavors like vanilla extract, almond flavor, or coconut extract. If you don’t care for one, try another brand until you find one you like. Using good flavors and extracts can drastically alter the flavor of your cookies and take them from just okay to awesome. I love Simply Organic vanilla extract, and it’s really easy to find at your local market. Frontier Co-Op has the best organic lemon flavor, organic peppermint flavor, all-natural almond flavor, all-natural banana flavor, all-natural cherry flavor, all-natural coffee flavor, and more. The great thing about this company is that it is a co-op, so anyone can join. You can sign up on their website at www.frontiercoop.com, and you can also find this brand at a lot of health food stores.
ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: This is an everyday flour and the one I call for most often in the book. Any organic brand should be sufficient, though I prefer unbleached if there is a choice. The grocery-store brand is fine—no need to worry about buying super-fancy flour. Save your money for ingredients that require spending a little more.
GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR: For the best results, use a gluten-free flour blend. Using only one type of flour, such as almond flour or coconut flour, will give you disappointing results. My favorite gluten-free flour blend is Namaste Organic Perfect Flour Blend. This is the brand we use at Dessert’D and the one I used to test all the recipes in this book. It’s made up of organic sweet brown rice flour, organic brown rice flour, organic tapioca starch, organic arrowroot powder, and organic sorghum flour. I think it has wonderful flavor and texture. If you can’t find it, look for mixes that use similar ingredients. King Arthur All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour is also a good choice, though it’s not organic. It has the added ingredient of potato starch. Cup4Cup is very much like King Arthur and is my third choice. Many flour blends also include xanthan gum, which is needed to bind baked goods together when there is no gluten.
OTHER FLOURS: A few recipes call for organic coconut flour or organic almond flour. When that’s the case, don’t substitute. These flours have gotten much easier to find at most grocery stores. Almond flour is used in all the French macaron recipes, so it is a must for your pantry. There are also a few recipes that call for cake flour. There is not an organic cake flour on the market yet, so my top choice is King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour.
I usually prefer my foods without added colors. I do admit, though, that sometimes desserts are a little prettier with a pastel hue, especially French macarons. The desserts in this book were all tested with the dyes we use at Dessert’D, from ColorKitchen. They are powdered dyes made from vegetables, and you can use them to get amazing pastel or bright colors. I love that these dyes are powders, because you’re not adding any liquid to the recipes. The pastel colors are really easy to make because they require just a small amount of powder, but if you want a brighter hue you can simply double the amount of color used. Find these dyes on their website, www.colorkitchenfoods.com. I recommend using only ColorKitchen for dying French macarons. But if you’re just dyeing frostings, then you can use India Tree Nature’s Colors liquid dyes: www.indiatree.com.
I always like to buy organic, raw, local honey because it potentially offers more antioxidants and greater anti-inflammatory benefits than more processed honey, which is pasteurized and thus has a longer shelf life but at the cost of those health advantages. It just doesn’t make sense to me to eat something that has had its health benefits removed. Local honey may be able to help build your immune system, which is great for those who suffer from allergies, so why not buy it if you can?
The organic molasses I recommend is made by Wholesome, and it’s what we use at Dessert’D. This is actually blackstrap molasses, even though the label doesn’t say it. So, when you’re shopping and wondering if you’re purchasing the right one, if it’s from Wholesome, then you are! Molasses is made during the production of sugar, and molasses has a higher sugar content than blackstrap molasses. I use blackstrap molasses along with sugar in all my recipes, hence why I use blackstrap molasses.
Organic peanut butter. Yes, that is the kind that has a good amount of oil on top and is usually separated when you buy it. I like to buy peanut butter that contains only two ingredients: organic dry roasted peanuts and sea salt. I know it can be a pain—trust me, we go through ridiculous amounts of these jars at the bakery, and we have to stir up every single one! But the quality and taste of that peanut butter blow the doors off any other kind. Here’s a trick to make it a bit easier to work with. Dump an entire jar of peanut butter into your stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low until creamy. Then put it right back in the jar.
Salt is used in sweet baking because it brings out the flavors of all the other ingredients without making everything salty. I like to use fine sea salt for all my recipes. I avoid iodized salt because it doesn’t actually bring out flavors very well.
Spices are an amazing way to add more flavor to your cookies. I use organic ground spices in all the recipes in this book, which can be found at any local market. Two of my favorite brands are Simply Organic and Frontier Co-Op. Spices last for about six months for best flavor, so buy small amounts if it’s something you don’t use all the time. You can get both of these brands at Frontier Co-Op: www.frontiercoop.com.
Everyone loves sprinkles, I won’t deny it. But what I don’t love is the artificial colors and weird stuff they put in sprinkles. That’s why I use all-natural sprinkles made with dyes from vegetables. At Dessert’D we use a few different brands. Our pastel rainbow sprinkles are from India Tree, and they are called Nature’s Colors Carnival Mix. They are dyed with things like turmeric, annatto, and beet juice. They are a little lighter in color than traditional rainbow sprinkles, but I really like the pastel look. We also use India Tree’s Natural Chocolate Sprinkles. These are delicious because they actually taste like chocolate, unlike other sprinkles. You can find them on their website, www.indiatree.com. If you want traditional bright rainbow sprinkles, pick up Rainbow Sprinkles from ColorKitchen. Their colors are brighter, and they are made with almost the exact same ingredients as the ones from India Tree. Find them at www.colorkitchenfoods.com. A brand called Ticings produces all-natural sprinkles from real chocolate. They also make colored sprinkles from white chocolate and natural vegetable dyes. These are the best-tasting sprinkles out there for sure. The only drawback with Ticings sprinkles is that they don’t react very well in the oven, so don’t use them in recipes like Sprinkled Shortbread (here). They are better for decorating the tops of cookies and biscotti after they come out of the oven. You can find them on their website, www.ticings.com.
CANE SUGAR: All the recipes in this book are intended to be made with organic cane sugar, which is easy to find, even at chain grocery stores. Organic sugar looks quite different than regular sugar—it is usually a little darker and more tan in color because it’s less processed (and more flavorful!) than white sugar, and the crystals are usually larger. If you don’t use organic sugar, your baked goods will probably come out lighter in color.
POWDERED SUGAR: This is also known as confectioners’ sugar. All the recipes here call for powdered sugar to be sifted because it can sometimes clump, especially if it’s been sitting in the pantry for a little while. Sifting will help avoid lumps in your cookies or frostings.
BROWN SUGAR: I use organic dark brown sugar for all recipes. You may choose to use organic light brown sugar, though it won’t have as much flavor and your finished product won’t be as dark in color. Wholesome is my favorite brand if you’re going to buy it. But you can actually make your own Brown Sugar (here), which is super easy—and you can get the exact shade of darkness you’re looking for. It also lasts longer than store bought.
I like to use organic ground vanilla bean in place of vanilla extract for many recipes. Vanilla bean has a different flavor than vanilla extract. It is earthier and richer, whereas extract is a little sweeter. I really like the pairing of vanilla bean with chocolate, which is why I use it in a lot of chocolate cookies, like the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (here). And with the Vanilla Bean Florentines (here), using vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract gives the cookie more balance because Florentines are already very sweet. If you don’t have organic ground vanilla bean, you can substitute vanilla extract. Use this formula:
½ TEASPOON GROUND VANILLA BEAN = 1 TEASPOON VANILLA EXTRACT
THERE ARE A FEW PIECES OF BAKING EQUIPMENT I RECOMMEND YOU HAVE.
- On Sale
- Nov 5, 2019
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Da Capo Lifelong Books