You’re the best…

I get my fair share of free cookbooks from publishers. If I really like the book, I feature it here on the blog. More often than not, those books are not really baking/dessert books, though usually have both in them. So I get especially excited when someone offers to send me an actual baking/dessert book. So when Houghton Mifflin Harcourt asked if I wanted a copy of The Gourmet Cookie Book* I was all over it. My original intent was to give it to my mother after I was done with it. But after having it now, I had to go buy my mom her own copy for Christmas (don’t worry, I didn’t spill the beans…she never reads my blog :P).

The book highlights what they feel was the best cookie of that year, starting in 1941 and making and baking its way up to Gourmet’s sad demise in 2009. :( I was a bit overwhelmed with my choices. I thought about choosing my birthday year, only to realize I didn’t have the main ingredient. So I did what I sometimes do to cookbooks, I just opened a page and that is what I made. I hit 1999 (Prince would be so proud). There pictured were beige cookies. Damn it! Beige again. I hate taking pictures of beige food. So I figure I would make them but not put them on the blog. Fine.

And then I ate one. Oh my. These cookies come from Skibo Castle (in Scotland…my dad would be so proud) and have just a hint of ginger that you don’t even notice it is ginger. The people I had try these loved the flavor but no one could pick out what it was. I actually love when that happens. No overpowering ginger flavor here. They are a super thin shortbread that is topped with a topping that almost ends up like half icing, half candy. I love it. I want to top many more things with it.

I quickly forgave the beige color and decided that regardless people needed to make these.  I think they would make a great cookie to take to cookie exchange, I can pretty much guarantee that no one else will have them. And as far as the book goes, you probably want to pick that up as well.

*My copy of The Gourmet Cookie was given to me for free by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt but the opinions are all mine.

Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch

Makes about 5 dozen
For shortbread base:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 TBSP) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For topping:
3/4 stick (6 TBSP) unsalted butter
1 TBSP Lyle’s Golden Syrup (British cane sugar syrup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13- by 9-inch metal baking pan.
Make shortbread base:
Sift together dry ingredients and blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press evenly into bottom of pan (base will be thin). Bake in middle of oven until golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.
Make topping just before shortbread is done:
Melt butter in a small saucepan and whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, 30 seconds.
Pour topping:
Remove shortbread from oven and pour topping over, tilting pan to cover shortbread evenly. Cool in pan on a rack, then cut into small rectangles (8 rows lengthwise and 8 crosswise).

Source: The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009

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  1. I love it when a cookie surprises. Also when a cookbook does. It makes life so much more fun. I am a ginger addict so I’m sure I would adore these!

  2. Beige color forgiven :) I love it the treat!

  3. wow these look really scrumptious! now i want to buy the book because i love those things where it’s like best of months/year/decade/etc.

  4. Liz @ Blog is the New Black says:

    Intertesting flavors!

  5. What can you use instead of Lyle’s Golden syrup? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before at the store. Would corn syrup work?

  6. This cookie looks delicious! I love the ginger aspect. I find that many people can’t identify ginger but still enjoy it.
    Please correct your subject line; “your” indicates possession, while “you’re” is a contraction meaning “you are.” I believe you mean the latter. It really reflects poorly on your blog and your writing skill to have such a mistake in your subject line.

  7. Oh dear lord, you did not just grammar police me. I changed it. The world can now return to functioning. I really have much better things to do with my life that worry about grammar.
    I can assure you that anyone who reads my blog knows I suck at both spelling and grammar….proudly.

  8. You will not get the same flavor without Lyle’s. You can use dark corn syrup but wont really get the caramel flavor it produces. Almost all of my grocery stores carry it now. You might want to look for it.

  9. these look wonderful! i may have to add this book to my collection…

  10. These sound refreshing and delicious!

  11. It’s on my shopping list! Thanks, can’t wait to try these!

  12. :) your response to the “grammer police” made me smile – and it’s been a really bad weekend. thanks. :)

  13. Oh, those look wonderful – am definitely keen to try them… but also to try all the other ideas I keep thinking of for that gingery topping! I think my greatest blog aspiration is to be sent recipe books gratis! Much as I love sending random thoughts and recipes into the ether, the thought of yet more baking opportunities would be irresistible – lucky you!

  14. I immediately thought of the song “simply the best, better than all the rest”. And these look great. I just arrived back from Australia with a supply of CSR Golden Syrup (sorry Lyle’s fans but this is the best Golden Syrup) and I can’t wait to try these. I am going to have to purchase a copy of this book.

  15. Those ginger bars must be divine! Wonderful.



  16. That may be a beige cookie, but I am drooling. They look luscious. Love the photo of the cookie with the bite…shows exactly how lovely that top is. Almost like soft fudge. YUM!

  17. Oh no, I really must make. Gotta get some Lyle’s golden syrup! And fast!

  18. I got an advanced copy of that from and haven’t tried anything yet, but I have my eye on the gianduja brownies!!

  19. Prince would be proud- Ha!! The beige color looks great with your blue background!! Your photos are all really amazing.

  20. Sounds like I need to get my hands on this book! Any other good suggestions for a new influx of cookbooks? You always know the best ones! Also, just tried Lyle’s for the first time (can’t seems to find it around my parts) and thrilled to have a new recipe to use it in-thanks Peabody!!

  21. Of all things sweet, cookies are my favorite to eat and bake! I might try these for a cookie exchange I go to every year – prizes are always awarded, and I try to win one every year…hehehhehe

  22. These look and sound amazing! So glad you posted them!

  23. I hear ya on the beige issue. It seems between breads, cookies, and chocolate, everything on my blog is brown. And I hate brown!

    Thanks for the heads up on the book. I’ll have to check it out, since I have such a dearth of cookbooks at my house. ;-) The cookies sound/look amazing!

  24. Beige has a place in the world…and it’s right here.

    Note to grammar police: …translates to “it is right here.” Nothing to see here. Move on.

    Off to Market Street to see if they have Lyle’s!

  25. so delish!! i added some scotch, allspice to the topping and they turned out amazing.

  26. Such a delicious looking cookie! I could go for a few right now :)

    Hope all is well in your world and things are getting easier for you.

  27. I have every single ingredient, including Lyle’s. It’s a sign! I’ve also been eyeing that cookbook.

    For those in the US looking for golden syrup, World Market/Cost Plus carries it!

  28. Oh my. These look so delicious. That cookbook has been on my wish list since I found out it was being released. I have a weakness for “best of” formats. :)

  29. Mom doesn’t but dad does.And I am proud!

  30. These really do sound delicious. I love the sounds of all almost fudgy topping paired with shortbread.

  31. mmm those look great. I think my favorite cookbook so far is the one you recommended I first get when I started blogging – Dorie’s Baking :) so thank you for that b/c it’s b/c of you that I got that book and joined TWD and am where I am today :)

  32. Those look fantastic. I get excited when I see a dessert book too!!

    Oh, I loved your response to the grammar police :)

  33. I made some tonight! Must be really small – 5doz?

    There are lots of “goats” at work :)

  34. Peabody – love ya and you’re post :-)

    I’m glad you responded about the need to use golden syrup. When I lived in the US and couldn’t find golden syrup I tried, without success to use maple syrup. It’s just not the same.

    Ginger Crunch is a very popular slice (aka bar cookie) in New Zealand and has been made for generations and definitely way before 1999 (just showing that I actually read your posts LOL ) with recipes varying wildy as to the proportion of base to icing. You can find ginger crunch in almost every café in NZ. Your recipe looks like the “proper” old fashioned kind and I love that it’s Scottish. Yum!

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