This generic cookbook alters old favorites slightly and then tries to pass them off as newfangled. Chocolate chip cookies that use chunks of chocolate rather than pre-formed chips are hardly revolutionary, but that's the sort of substitution that preens as innovation here. Even the fancier options, like brownies gilded with edible gold leaf, have been trendy for some time now. In recipe headers Johnson (Sweet Dreams of Gingerbread, not reviewed) sounds like a culinary hayseed, announcing earnestly that ``hazelnuts...are popular in European baked goods and are becoming more popular here.'' More problematic are the frequent lapses in logic, e.g., a 12-inch log of marbled icebox cookie dough cut into 1/4-inch slices naturally yields four dozen cookies, not three dozen. While all results tasted fine (although cooking times are on the long side so that if cookies aren't watched carefully, they'll burn), none resembled Holly Stewart's brightly busy photographs. It was impossible to shape the runny almond-and-raisin-studded batter that resulted from the biscottini recipe into a log, as instructed, or into anything other than a giant glob. They were tasty spice cookies, but they lacked the hard texture of true biscotti. Crisp, flourless hazelnut snaps were heavenly, but they welded themselves to the aluminum foil on which they were baked and needed to be chipped off in pieces. Too little art, too little science.
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