500 cookies cookbook by philippa vanstone
Become a cookie commando with Vanstone’s guidance.


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CAITLIN BARRETT is a member of THE NIBBLE™ editorial staff. She would like to point out that her popularity level and the volume of cookies she produced while reviewing this cookbook were not mutually exclusive.


November 2005

Product Reviews / Best Reads / Cooking

500 Cookies

By Philippa Vanstone

Cookbooks love to claim that they have something to offer everyone, but catering to everyone’s taste often means that you would need hundreds and hundreds of recipes. 500 seems to be the magic number, as Philippa Vanstone’s 500 Cookies demonstrates that there is indeed a cookie out there for everyone.

From time to time we are confronted with people who don’t like to eat cookies. While this is incredibly difficult for us to wrap our cookie-loving heads around, we can accept some of the reasons that people offer: namely allergies to sugar, wheat, or dairy. Vanstone took this challenge head-on: there are 10 recipes that cater very specifically to special diets: wheat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free. None of these recipes sacrifice flavor in the name of meeting with dietary restrictions or resort to using artificial sweeteners. The dairy-free “Coconut Wedges” get their sweetness from maple syrup and the banana cookies rely solely on the natural fruit sugar in bananas and dates to make them incredibly toothsome. If there isn’t a cookie among those 10 that suit the dietary needs you are looking to meet, there are two to three further variations suggested for each of the recipes in the entire book.

Perhaps others don't like cookies because they are “too sweet.” Vanstone has the solution: try some of her very gourmet “Savory Cookies and Crackers.” Some, such as the “Triple Cheese Sandwich Cookies” and the “Blue Cheese Crumbles,” are versatile enough to be served as hors d’oeuvres while others like the “Anchovy and Olive Sticks,” and the fragrant shortbread-like“Rosemary Wafers” would be right at home presented as part of a cheese course or alongside a crudités platter. Her recipe for “Chili Cheese Thins” is about as far as you can get from a dainty sugar cookie. Forget the milk, these hot and spicy wafers are best served with a frosty beer.

The “Cookies for Kids” section will revitalize your arsenal of child-friendly treats. Kids will love helping to prepare the “Blueberry and White Chocolate Crunchies” (a gourmet twist on the classic Rice Krispies® Treats) and even your inner child won’t be able to resist the allure of assembling a homemade ice cream cookie. Other highlights include the candy bejeweled “Carnival Bars" and the deliciously academic “Alphabet Cookies.”

Baking for a purist? Check out the section on classic cookies, where Vanstone presents a variety of well-tested standards like Scottish shortbread, almond biscotti and snicker doodles. The “Teatime Cookies” chapter will enable you to delight your discriminating guests with refined fare like “Ginger Crumble Cookies” and “Polenta Crescents”. Chocolate lovers will find it hard to resist diving right into a plate of any of the cookies in the chocolate section (the “Chewy Chocolate Cookies” were “simply irresistible,” just as the recipe promised: not a single cookie lasted long enough on the tray to make it to the cookie jar). The chapters on wholesome healthy cookies, dessert cookies, and celebration cookies and bar cookies cover anything else your baker’s heart could desire, making this an indispensable handbook for anyone who loves to bake cookies.

In addition to simple, thoughtful and tasty recipes, 500 Cookies features sumptuous color photography, clever substitutions and something for everyone (and we mean everyone) on your guest list. There is even advice on equipment, ingredients and the cookie-making process. It is one of those books that will live on the kitchen counter covered in batter stains and sticky fingerprints, a distinction that few cookbooks ever achieve.

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