The cover of cookbook author and columnist Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Dorie’s Cookies features her infamous chewy and salty shortbread “World Peace Cookie.” The chocolate-laden treat is set in stark relief from the image’s almost iridescent purple background; each sweet crevice gleams, begging to be bitten. The image — one of many eye-catchers in this volume of more than 160 cookie recipes — hints at the nostalgia of mid-20th-century food photography, while also establishing a bold aesthetic to reveal the most subtle details of each cookie’s finer points.

A four-time James Beard Award-winning author, Greenspan has authored or co-authored 12 cookbooks. She also writes an “Everyday Dorie” column for The Washington Post, splitting her time between Westbrook, Paris and New York. Her love of cookies is as monumental as the Dorie’s Cookies cover image suggests, measuring more than 300 recipes deep.


Dorie’s Cookies

By Dorie Greenspan, photography by Davide Luciano
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
2016, 528 pages

Writing with the ease and charm of a seasoned hostess at a holiday party, Greenspan’s recipes are often as entertaining as they are compelling and tasty. Kindness, gratitude and joy are themes that permeate her discussions around food and cooking in general, but perhaps most especially when the topic turns to cookies.

Cookies, Greenspan believes, can serve as a kind of currency of kindness. “It’s so easy to make people happy,” she said in a recent podcast interview with Radio Cherry Bombe. “As bakers, we never really bake for ourselves. All of a sudden, I thought … let’s do what we always do, which is bake and share.”

To this end, Greenspan has launched her Instagram #cookiesandkindness project, encouraging bakers to share cookies “as a singular act of kindness.”

Whether or not you are inclined to give your cookies away, Dorie’s Cookies is likely to inspire lots of bookmarks — always the measure of any enduring cookbook.

It is by turns a practical guide to the most elemental aspects of baking, and a treasure trove of recipes from ever-so-slightly tweaked classics like chocolate chip (nutmeg and coriander!) and classic brownies (buy the Valrhona cocoa). There are also a variety of savory never-before-imagined-as-a-cookie recipes, such as the Old Bay pretzel-and-cheese “cocktail” cookie.

Nutty, spicy, fruity, chocolatey, sweet or savory, there are a wealth of options in Dorie’s Cookies for bakers of every level and cookie sensibility.

It’s also just a fun book to ogle.

Greenspan’s previous books utilized lovely, albeit more traditional, approaches to photography and design. Dorie’s Cookies is a definite departure into the decidedly contemporary photographic sensibility of the New York-based husband-and-wife team, photographer Davide Luciano and stylist Claudia Ficca.

Luciano has a background in film, and many of the couple’s whimsical collaborative efforts embrace a hyper-chromatic and narrative approach to image-making.

Greenspan has described the photographic aspect of the cookbook as an enjoyable group of weeks when the trio would work, eat, discuss, celebrate and press on, day after day. The resulting photographs for the book are vivid compositions that rely on graphic juxtapositions of color and a flawless command of lighting. The images meticulously illustrate the essence of what has allowed each cookie to make the three “Purple Star” cut — Greenspan’s personal code for the best of the best.

My kids, particularly my 3-year-old son, were enchanted by the ooey, gooey details revealed in this collection of photographs. As we flipped through the pages, I explained the #cookiesandkindness idea to them; it was an easy sell.

After perusing their options, they settled on the “Melody” cookie, a replication of a chocolate Nabisco cookie of yore. With only six ingredients and a pink stand mixer, they managed to measure, mix, cut, bake and wrap nearly 20 cookies.

The first package, a gift to our beloved mailman, was met with a huge smile on an otherwise dreary, rainy January afternoon. “You guys are the best,” he said, taking the little foil-wrapped bundle.

I think the gesture helped us all to remember that sometimes, even the smallest acts of kindness can linger like the taste of a chocolate chip cookie, warm and sweet.

Shelley Lawrence Kirkwood is a writer, photographer, avid home cook and health nut. Her career started in food writing for alternative weeklies before veering into teaching and curatorial work after earning her MFA at the University of Arizona.