When I heard the title of Julia Usher's new cookbook, Ultimate Cookies, I was expecting to see crisp cookies, chewy cookies, and a smattering of every possible type of cookie known to man-- chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, sugar... you get the picture. What I wasn't expecting was that her book, released in November 2011, would be as clearly written as a how-to book, as inspirational as a cooking show, and so completely lick-the-page gorgeous that I'd want to use it as a coffee table book.

Don't believe me? Just get ready. I contacted the publisher and asked them to share a few photos from the book with our loyal blog readers and they sent my two favorites for the holiday season: Snow Globes and Snow Honeys.



How do I love these cookies? Let me count the ways, starting with Snow Globes.


One of the things I love about Ultimate Cookies is that the book makes it easy for you by providing you with a clear ingredient list and a mini "Prep Talk", which offers a fun and helpful tip for cookie making. It even offers Complexity Levels, so you'll know just how challenging a recipe may be (this one is a 2 on a scale of 1 to 3).

Here, you see them in all their red-and-green Christmas glory, but the great news is that they can be made for anything, like a shower or a tea, and used as a both a dessert and a place marker. Check them out when they're done in pastels-- no snowy feeling here!


While I'm a sucker for a cookie with a Santa scene, my heart skipped a beat when I saw these Snow Honeys:


Lucky for us, Ultimate Cookies takes us through the steps, starting with Goofproof Macarons, to making these delicious cookies-turned-tablescapes.


..and includes photos to show the more difficult tasks, like making the Snowman's scarf.


I'll admit it: I love cookbooks. I love to read them, look at their pictures, and dream about making delicious treats, then get to work making them. Ultimate Cookies gave me great ideas for birthday parties (cookies shaped like purses!), April Fool's Day (cookies that look like spaghetti and meatballs!), and cookies to bake with my nieces (hello, butterflies!).

The best part of this cookbook is that you see several photos of each cookie during the icing process and that the author detailed everything you'd need to know in the front of the book. From baking lingo to tools to styles of icings, she's covered everything, meaning that you never have to run for you iPad mid-cookie prep.

Next time you're thinking cake for a birthday or store-bought favors, create one of these delicious treats instead.