From Olive Oil Sugar Cookies to Chocolate Basil Brownies

100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More
By Sarah Kieffer
(Chronicle Books, 2020)

Celebrate the start of a new school year or add some cheer to family game night or a Zoom celebration by whipping up a delicious batch of sweet treats! A new cookbook by Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog provides a step-by-step guide and 100 recipes to inspire you to bake crunchy cookies, chewy bars and brownies, toothsome cream pies, and other hand-held delights. (As well as a few ice cream combinations, like Hazelnut and Raspberry Ripple.)

One of Kieffer’s claims to fame is her now-viral "pan banging" technique that ensures crisp edges and soft centers. It’s a trick that she explains, along with a host of other specific tips and advice that an author can include when focusing fairly narrowly on a certain type of cooking.

Recipes are straightforward and include all the classics as well as unique creations like rich olive oil sugar cookies with tangy blood orange glaze; meringues with crunchy cacao nibs and a sweet caramel swirl; smoky butterscotch cookies; chocolate basil brownies; and fragrant lavender cookies with white chocolate and creme fraiche glaze. (Unfortunately, there are no options for anyone on gluten- or sugar-free or other restrictive diets.)

Kieffer sprinkles literary quotes like jimmies throughout the book, and also includes a “Music to Bake To” playlist with a mix that runs from Louis Armstrong to St. Germain.

Kieffer began baking in ninth grade, when after school, she baked her way through a number of cookbooks, gifting the results. In that same spirit, she’s created a cookbook filled with colorful, creative, and tried-and-true confections, which make it easy to start at the beginning and bake your way through, creating mounds of warm, sweet, buttery delights to eat with your family or share with friends.

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with our readers.