The International Cookie Cookbook

Scandinavian krumkake, English shortbread, German lebkuchen, French madeleines, and six variations of the American chocolate-chip cookie--THE INTERNATIONAL COOKIE COOKBOOK has recipes for them all. Author Nancy Baggett has collected excellent recipes for familiar treats; elaborate concoctions by professional bakers are not the point here. Instead, even beginners can easily bake most of these recipes. Many of the recipes are not particularly time-consuming; there are bar and drop cookies as well as fancy rolled cookies.

Baggett begins with a few basic instructions before moving on to one hundred fifty regional recipes. Her tips are probably unnecessary for the experienced baker, but such suggestions as rolling out dough between pieces of waxed paper will aid new cooks.

The first and longest section of recipes covers American and Canadian cookies. The dominant adjectives for these treats seem to be “chocolate” and “chewy"--in addition to the variations on chocolate-chip cookies, there are recipes for two types of brownies, for Nanaimo Bars, chocolate icebox cookies, Chocolate Kiss-peanut butter cookies, and for double-chocolate chews, a brownielike drop cookie.

In following sections, British Isles “biscuits” are what Baggett terms “go-with-something-else sweets,” cookies that are often mild and delicately flavored. The Scandinavian cookies are typically buttery. The section on Western European cookies is, surprisingly, distinct from that on Eastern European baked goods; the Western cookies seem to use more spices while Eastern ones employ honey, poppy seeds, and jam. The Southern European section includes a recipe for Sweet Ravioli, and the section on Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, and Pacific cookies covers a range from Chinese Almond Cookies to ANZAC (Australia-New Zealand Army Corps) Cookies, which were sent to soldiers during World War I.

The recipes in this collection are nearly uniformly good and are easy to follow. Only a few of the recipes require special equipment, but several of them are written with instructions only for a food processor rather than a standard mixer. The photographs accompanying the recipes help by showing the finished product and are a pleasure to look at as well, though some are puzzling--why are those toy pink flamingos pecking at a jam-filled cookie?