HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum - anybody baking from this?

Hi all, have perused this book and come up with some things I absolutely have to make (the three-nut ovals sound sublime, among others). Has anyone baked from it, and if so, what are the do-not-miss recipes?
And has anyone made the gingerbread Notre Dame? (Please say no...this way madness lies.)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Predictably, I have this book, and although I have not baked extensively from it, I have made several recipes. The Mexican Wedding cakes are very good -- I've made these a bunch of times, but I really don't know what distinguishes them from other Mexican Wedding Cakes. I have made Rose's Crescents, also excellent. Chocolate dipped melting moments -- delicious, but similar to MWCs. Unfortunately, as I was looking at the book, it started coming apart! It's not that old (1990), so I am really upset :((

    11 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      You? have this book? ;-)
      Thanks for the pointers.
      Dang crappy publishing values! That is ridiculous.

      1. re: roxlet

        Me too, Roxlet! My copy started falling apart immediately and it was new when I bought it. This makes it very hard to bake from. I was hoping I just got a bad copy but apparently not.

        1. re: Becca Porter

          I don't know why that makes me feel better! At least I didn't manhandle it, but it is a shame to have a book fall to pieces. I bought mine new as well, and I can't think of another book that this has happened to. Buttertart -- when did you get yours? I wonder if it is an early printing problem.

          1. re: roxlet

            It's a library book but is in pretty good shape. Wanted to look at it before springing for it.

            1. re: buttertart

              The copy that I bought used (1990) for my friend also came to me with a good sized section separating from the spine. I chalked it up to handling or storage issues by the previous owner, but looks like it was more than that. Amazing.

            2. re: roxlet

              roxlet: This has been going on for some time...I have Alice Water's Chez Panisse Cookbook and it started coming away from the spine within a month. It was also pretty expensive. You'd think with all her fame for using only the freshest and finest ingredients, a book by her would be put together to last.

            3. re: Becca Porter

              I just sent a question to Rose on her web site about whether this had been a consistent problem with this book...

              1. re: roxlet

                Good! I couldn't believe it when my binding fell apart so quickly.

                This might have been one of the books I got from the Good Cook club, actually.

                1. re: roxlet

                  Here is the reply from Rose:

                  just last night i punched 3 holes in the pages of my falling apart xmas cookie book and put it in a three ring binder.
                  most cookbooks are not stitched. if used often they will fall apart. i will ever do another book that is not stitched. both my bread bible and rose's heavenly cakes are stitched. but i can't force my previous publishers to follow suit!

                  1. re: roxlet

                    I don't buy it. I have a copy of "The Cake Bible" published by those same "previous publishers." It's not stitched. It's not falling apart. But a three-ring binder is a good idea. Although then the book wouldn't fall open automatically to all my favorite recipes.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      I actually HATE the idea of a three ring binder. I don't use the book so frequently so it's not that much trouble.

            4. I have this book too, in fact I'm on my second copy - the first one fell apart. (I bought it through a cookbook-of-the-month club, though, so I put it down to cheap seconds).

              I've made several of the recipes many times. The three-nut fingers are really, really good; I'm not a big fan of nuts but I love them. The cookie part of the peanut butter and jelly jewels is my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe - the flavor and texture are amazing. Instead of filling the cookies as she describes, I use a cookie press fitted with the round opening to dispense small portions of dough onto cookie sheets. Then I sandwich the small, baked cookies together with jelly or melted chocolate.

              I also really love the maple macadamia bars recipe. The lebkuchen are good, very sweet and chewy....one recipe I wasn't crazy about is the pffefernuse, and I had such a dificult time handling the dough for the buttered rum cookies that I almost lost my sanity.

              I'll have to get the book out tonight and see what else I've tried.

              6 Replies
              1. re: gimlis1mum

                "(I bought it through a cookbook-of-the-month club, though, so I put it down to cheap seconds)."

                Just want to clarify: BOMC editions are not "cheap seconds." They are printed along with the very same copies you can buy at your most beloved book store.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  They used to be, dear 2-t tommy, I have some from the 70's that look as if they were printed on the paper they used to give you in kindergarten with the big hunks of wood floating around in it. Not any more, though.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Thanks buttertart. I sold book rights for a major publisher in the 90s and I know for a fact that BMOC editions were not cheap seconds. Yes, in the earlier days of BMOC, they were indeed cheap copies, but since the discussion was about a particular book published in the 90s, I wanted to clarify.

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      I always assumed they were the same, but I was beginning to question this book in this thread. Thank you for clarifying.

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Have been perfectly happy with the book club versions in say the last 10 yrs.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          That's interesting to know. A couple other books I got from that club (don't recall which one) didn't hold up well, either, so I asuumed it was just a lower-quality book. In general I am pretty gentle with my cookbooks :-)

                  2. Recipes that I've tried that are good:
                    Mrs King's Irresistible Oatmeal Cookies
                    David's Dreambars
                    Bernachon's Biarritz
                    David Shamah's Jumbles
                    Savory Cheese Dollars
                    Not worth it:
                    Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar is good but the recipe calls for cooking the lemon curd over the stove before pouring on the baked shortbread and baked again to set it. I found the extra cooking step wasn't worth the effort. I like Alice Medrich's just mix in a bowl lemon curd, then bake to set better.
                    Chocolate Moist Madeleines: boring and not rich enough
                    My taste in cookie baking tends toward the lots of stuff rather than the simple dainty types. Since I already have good recipes for basic cookies such as Sugar Cookies, Spritz Butter Cookies, Biscotti, Peanut Butter, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Crescents from other books, I have never try hers.
                    I might have the only copy that is not falling apart. Maybe it is due to the lack of use.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: PBSF

                      Re: Alice Medrich's Lemon Bars - I wish I'd seen this recipe before I made her lemon tart. For the bars you're right, she just mixes the ingreds for the lemon curd and pours it over the baked crust. A couple of pages later, however, for the tart, she has you go through the whole process of making the curd, with strainer, etc. I certainly don't know why one couldn't use the same process for the tart as for the bars.

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        I think it gets too dried out at the edges before it sets in the center.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          The ingredients for her Lemon Bar and Lemon Tart are a little different. You are right that one can certainly use her lemon filling from her Lemon Bar recipe for lemon tart. I have and it comes out fine. I still prefer the more delicate lemon cure filling for a tart. It does not use cornstarch as a thickener as in her lemon bar.

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            oakjoan, here is a recipe from Saveur that I have made with great success. It calls for pouring the curd mixture onto the crust and then baking:

                        2. Just requested this from my library, it looks like it will be fun to check out.
                          I am hoping it will inspire me to get my Christmas Cookie List in order and I know it will get me excited for the upcoming holiday season.
                          I looooooove the holidays! See, it's working already.

                          1. I think it is this book that has the pistachio marzipan/chocolate ganache candy in it. It is really good. Very different and delicious.

                            Oh and I think the meringues that use unsweetened chocolate are genius!

                            1. Those who have copies that are falling apart, know that it’s not just a question of a special or book-club edition. I worked at Morrow at the time, have a hot-off-the-press copy, and mine is falling apart as well. I have a lot of other books from the same publisher published at the same time and those are not falling apart, which leads me to believe this was just some kind of major goof at the bindery like a bad batch of glue that only came to light years later.

                              Recipes I really liked:

                              Golden Biscotti
                              Cocoa Brownies
                              Mexican Wedding Cookies
                              Scottish Shortbread Cookies
                              Rose’s Crescents
                              Chocolate-Dipped Melting Moments
                              Mahogany Buttercrunch Toffee
                              Chocolate Caramel Chews
                              David’s Dream Bars
                              David Shamah’s Jumbles

                              I made Lora Brody’s Chocolate Phantoms once but never made them again, so I guess I wasn’t that crazy about them. And I have a note saying the texture of the Savory Cheese Dollars was great, but I wanted them cheesier.

                              Finally, I no longer even try any recipe for rugelach other than Lora Brody’s Rugelach. I think it's the best ever.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: JoanN

                                It is such a shame because it is a great book. I really loved learning about egg tempara for decorating cookies, I had never seen it before.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  oh YES the rugelach. I don't usually like that kind of cookie but that recipe is wonderful.

                                2. My book is falling apart, too. Hate that!

                                  Gingerbread People - my daughter's favorite cookie and a Christmas tradition around here.
                                  Mahogony Buttercrunch Toffee - fantastic!
                                  Mini-Cheesecakes - fussy, but worth it
                                  Swiss-Italian Mocha Meringues - Okay, not worth the trouble

                                  1. If you are professionally trained, bake for people with similar credentials, have a lot of time on your hands--and a masochistic streak--then use this book. I like a challenge, have been baking for 35+ years, and almost never part with a cookbook; but I'm thinking of donating this one to charity. But then I wouldn't want to foist it on someone else. . . maybe with a warning: "For bookshelf decoration only." The Lemon Butter Bars were a major disaster for me; many recipes seem created for maximum difficulty. I've heard of others who have similar feelings about it this book.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Gervasia

                                      I'm shocked to hear you say this. I'm a decent cook, but don't do a whole lot of baking. I've made probably a third of the recipes in the book and don't find them particularly difficult or challenging at all. A few of them might be a bit fussy, but most are pretty straightforward.

                                      Perhaps you're put off by her pedantic style. I'm not. In fact, I find it helpful and informative. But many people find her annoying, thinking that she makes a recipe twice as long as it needs to be. I disagree, but I understand. But needing to be professionally trained to use this book? Not by a long shot in my opinion.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        I didn't find it to be the case with this book either, she can be a bit annoying with her egg-weighing and whatnot but most of these recipes are as straightforward as any I've seen from other writers.

                                    2. The Pecan Tassies and Pfeffernüsse are very good. I've made the Mexican Wedding Cakes before, but I prefer the "Butterballs" recipe from the original Silver Palette cookbook instead.

                                      The gingerbread church has always intrigued me, but what do you do with it after its done?

                                      P.S. My book looks just like it did when I bought it in 1990 except with a few food stains. The cover is completely intact.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: skippy66

                                        "gingerbread church":

                                        Eat or donate!

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                          Check yourself into a facility - the templates go on for pages and pages...

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            Is it a rather large gingerbread church? A labor of love, mostly, as well as $$; have you seen those gingerbread house competition shows on FN around the holidays? Some of those projects take a year to construct.

                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                              It's a replica Notre Dame cathedral complete with flying buttresses!!! Kind of figures, doesn't it. I'm surprised she didn't include instructions for sugarwork gargoyles. ;-)

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Gawd, quite the undertaking. If I was to make the effort to construct one, I'd seal it permanently for posterity, no nibbling.

                                                Must be the highlight of the book.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    I'll have to check it out in my friend's copy when I visit her next.

                                                    Nice to see you back here!

                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                      Thanks, dearie. It hurt to sit still and type before.

                                      2. Ok do I love this book and it's author? YOU BETCHA! I've bought it a total of 5 that's right 5 times. Yes it falls apart and each time I tell myself I am going to bind it again but than I re buy it. This is the year I will copy it for my cook book archives. I enjoy this book so much i purchased her other books the Cake Bible, The Pastry and Pie Bible, and The Bread Bible
                                        My mom and I started baking together with this book. BM (Before Martha Stewart became the Dona of Domesticity. In addition, the Cuisinart was the latest kitchen gadget must have. Biscotti where a exotic mysterious cookie and marzipan had to be ordered from New York Cake Decorators. Wow to think these food items are now mainstays @ supermarkets gives you an idea how far ahead Rose was of her time. Rose also holds a BS and Ms in food science. I love that many of the recipes can be made with a food processor.
                                        My moms book has held up. This book must be being produced by a different printer. I remember using this book from the 1980's- 1986. My mom bought me my own copy in 1986.
                                        The only experience I had before using this book was a rudimentary or a primer class of basic home economics. The only recipe out of the 60 cookies I have not made from this book is the Nortre Dame Cathedral.

                                        TIME AND MONEY SAVING TIP: Test your candy thermometer before making the carmels. When making Roses Maghoney Buttercrunch Toffee, Macadamia Bars, Chocolate Chews, and Pralines etc the list would be to long, I would advise the baker to not bring the carmel to the crack stage. When doing this the temp gets to hot and uncontrollable that your carmel May burn. Instead bring the temp near the crack stage and remove from heat. The carry over thermal heat will bring the sugar to its desired stage without the risk of burning the carmel. See the book, Rose goes into descriptive detail of when and what will occur when making carmels.
                                        From a scale from 1-10 i would give this author a 100! I enjoyed everything from the stories, pictures, measurement graphs by weight and volume, to how spot on Rose was to details that made every recipe a winner. In 2011 who knows maybe I'll make the Norte Dame Cathedral!
                                        Hope this information is useful