I found an old recipe called 1001 Cookie Mix, and while that might be a bit of an oversell, I was really impressed by how easy and versatile the base ended up being. They have a dozen or so possibilities on that site, but I made four versions today at Sherri’s house. Daphne and I went up and baked all day. I might have napped. I’m not old, though! It was just a post-sugar-high coma. Hey, we must taste-test as we go; otherwise, how would I know whether or not to recommend this recipe?

First, you just mix a bunch of sugar, flour, some baking powder, and salt. When you get done, it looks like the beginnings of pie crust. The recipe says that it makes ten (10) cups, but mine was more like 13. I will admit that I’m not the most precise measurer (sorry, Alton Brown), but I don’t think I was THAT far off.

The first thing I made was brownies. Mmmm… Brownies.

 It made the equivalent of an 8 x 8 pan of brownies, but I couldn’t find an 8 x 8 pan at Elissa’s house. This is not her fault; I just didn’t feel like being too snoopy, even though she was gracious enough to give me the run of the kitchen.

The only change I made in the recipe is that the instructions say to melt the second half of the chocolate chips to spread on top of the brownies, and I elected instead to put them in the batter. I like finding pockets of chocolate in my brownies; plus, I knew I would be bagging these to give away and I didn’t want the bags to be all icky. These brownies were soft and chewy. I undercooked them by five minutes. I would make a double recipe if I did this one again. The brownie-to-other-stuff ratio of the gift bags was way too low.

Next, I did chocolate chip cookies. This appeared to make only a tiny amount, but once I’d spooned them out in tablespoonish dallops, it took up two full cookie sheets. Typically, I enjoy a chewy, soft chocolate chip cookie (you might notice a theme here). These thinned out almost like a pirouline lace cookie. They are lovely and delicious, but I think that they require milk and a bit of dunking to maximize their enjoyability.

One thing that will make cookies less crispy is if you use margarine instead of real butter. I love the flavor of butter, though. I think if I used margarine, I’d use some butter extract just to boost that.

The third version I attempted was the oatmeal raisin cookie. I substituted dried mixed berries for raisins, which I detest. The dough seemed a little dry, but I went with it. The cookies tasted fine; I accidentally overcooked one batch a bit. If I were doing it again, I might add a splash of cream for some moisture. These probably smelled the best, and with the mixed berries, each bite tastes different. It makes it a fun cookie to eat.

The last cookie I made was the lemon bar. It’s not listed as a bar, but I made them that way. In the recipe, it says to roll the dough out into a cylinder, chill it, then cut round cookies. I preferred to spread it on a cookie sheet and cut it into bars with a pizza cutter as the cookies came out of the oven.

These are moist and addictive, like the brownies; this made plenty, though, unlike the brownies. The lemon taste isn’t very strong. I might use a bit of lemon extract or maybe even some orange zest just to boost the citrus flavor. Also, if you want that characteristic “lemon” color, you’ll have to use food coloring.

From start to finish, including washing dishes, these four cookie varieties took less than three hours. We even had a few cups of base left over, for when future urges to bake hit. In short, I recommend the base and the four recipes we tried. I can only assume that the others would be as successful. I am impressed with how versatile the recipe is; you can get a lot of very different results from just one start.

Happy baking!