NEW BAKING BOOK by Better Homes and Gardens (2004)

PUBLISHER: Better Homes and Gardens, 9/2004
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: Baking Basics chapter provides short course for novices and a good refresher for experienced cooks.

Includes chapters on baking reliables: Cakes, Pies and Tarts, Yeast Breads, Quick Breads, and Cookies.

Specialty chapters such as Baking with Kids, Holiday Classics, Spectacular Desserts, and Old-Fashioned Desserts meet the needs of a variety of readers.

Provides extensive baking tips and question-and-answer boxes throughout.

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Please click here to see my review for this cookbook. I’ve got many of my own photos to accompany the recipes.

 

 

À LA MODE: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings: Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Crisps, and More Topped with Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Custard, and More by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein

PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Are you ready to take your baking over the top? Here are sixty decadent and delightful ice creams and the sixty desserts that are their vehicles. A la Mode offers not just solid dessert recipes, from raspberry oat bars to bear claws, from chocolate pecan pie to a white chocolate pavlova, but also gives you the unforgettable pairings that make these desserts smash hits: apple cranberry pie with Camembert ice cream, chocolate sheet cake with salt caramel frozen custard, and espresso cream jelly roll with mascarpone ice cream.

Let’s face it: vanilla can sometimes be so… vanilla. A great a-la-mode pairing should be as decadent as finding the perfect wine to go with your cheese plate. With À la Mode, IACP winners and cookbook dynamos Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough show you how to create innovative delights such as creamy hazelnut gelato atop coffee-poached pears, or maple frozen custard with a mouthwatering cinnamon roll cake, alongside simpler classics like confetti ice cream with layered vanilla birthday cake. You haven’t lived until you’ve had peanut brittle pie with popcorn ice cream, a Cracker Jack fantasy!

THINGS I’VE MADE

RASPBERRY OAT BARS

These turned out really good and they have great crunch. The dough is made from butter, white and brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, almonds, egg white, salt. I left out the cinnamon. I added a little vanilla extract to the mixture and added 1/8t almond extract to the raspberry jam.

I think this could have used just 3/4c. jam instead of 1c. Of course you could substitute any other jam for the raspberry. I cut my bars, which were made in a 9″ square baking pan, into six pieces. If you happen to have a 7″ square pan you could probably make just half of this recipe.

 

CHERRY-VANILLA FROZEN CUSTARD

This has egg yolks in it, vanilla extract, milk, cream, sugar, salt, and canned sweet cherries. I don’t like that you can taste the egg, but I knew this was custard so I expected an egg taste. It was very easy to prepare in a sauce pot and my cold mixture took about 30 minutes in the ice cream maker before it thickened enough to pour into my container to freeze. When I went to eat some twenty hours later it was of a perfect scooping consistency. I used less vanilla extract than called for but it was still way too much. I’d make this again using less vanilla. When I ate the last of it four days after freezing the mixture, I didn’t even notice an eggy taste.

CHOCOLATE SOUR CHERRY LAYER CAKE

I made half the recipe in an 8″x2″ square pan and didn’t layer sour cherry jam between layers. It baked in 26 minutes. I made my own buttercream frosting for this. This is very bitter. It’s made with both unsweetened cocoa powder and melted semisweet chocolate. It’s dense like a brownie.

I’d never make this again and words can’t describe my disappointment. I’ve made countless chocolate cakes and none have ever been bitter.

ORANGE SHERBET

This is made with milk, cream, sugar, clear corn syrup, unflavored gelatin, salt, orange juice, and orange zest. It has a very pale orange color. It tastes good, like a Creamsicle® but it’s got ice crystals all through it and it’s not creamy like you’d expect and falls apart. My mixture took 28 minutes in the ice cream maker  After freezing 24 hours it was pretty firm. I’m not sure what the gelatin did for this, or the corn syrup. I’d make this again but only if I couldn’t find a creamier recipe elsewhere.

LEMON POLENTA CAKE

This buttery cake has good flavor and smells good too. It’s made with fine ground polenta, flour, plain yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. It’s dense and slightly moist. The texture is not that of a standard cake since this has polenta in it. It’s more coarse. I made half in a 9″x1.5″ round pan. It sunk in the middle slightly. It baked in 19 minutes. I made my own thick vanilla glaze for it. I used the zest from one lemon for this and it’s the right amount.

SOUR CHERRY COBBLER

This recipe uses all sour cherries but I used just one drained can of them and a 16oz. bag of frozen dark sweet pitted cherries. I used a 1.5qt baking dish. The topping has ground almonds in it. My topping was wetter than it should have been though I used the exact amount of milk specified in the recipe. It didn’t taste good either and was a little too salty. The bottom of the topping was wet from the moisture from the cherries. I wouldn’t make this again.

PEACH ICE CREAM

This uses fresh peaches, milk, cream, salt, cornstarch, and peach nectar. It took just 23 minutes in the ice cream maker to thicken. The peach flavor is very subtle, as is the peach color. Because you can barely taste the peach I wouldn’t make this one again.

APPLE-CRANBERRY STREUSEL PIE

I left out the crust and cranberries, so this really isn’t a pie. In the topping I used light brown sugar instead of dark. I added salt to the apples, as well as cinnamon. The topping is pretty good but after processing it, it wasn’t like cracker crumbs but was thick and creamy. I dolloped it evenly over the apples and it spread out nicely. The top of it was crispy but the underside was moist from touching the apples. Not the best topping because it softens.

MY THOUGHTS: Though I’m happy with six of the eight things I made, I’m disappointed in this book. There are two more chocolate cake recipes and one brownie recipe in here but sadly I’m not comfortable making any of them because of how awful the one chocolate cake I made turned out. There are a few other ice cream/frozen custards I’d like to make and only a couple more baked goods.

There’s not a basic chocolate ice cream recipe in here. The one basic vanilla ice cream recipe has chopped chocolate added and was given a fancy unpronounceable name. I wish there were a few more fruit sorbet recipes, those using no dairy.

There’s not a photo of everything but there are quite a few and they’re beautiful.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

SWEET MORNINGS: 125 Sweet and Savory Breakfast and Brunch Recipes by Patty Pinner

PUBLISHER: Agate Midway, 3/2016
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Sweet Mornings collects more than 100 sweet and savory options for breakfast and brunch. From donuts to crumb cakes to sweet rolls, these are the kind of treats that evoke feelings of warmth and comfort like only good, old-fashioned breakfast food can.

Author Patty Pinner has been collecting breakfast recipes for as long as she can remember. She comes from a long line of breakfast bakers, and many of the recipes in this book have been passed down from the “Greats”—great-grannies and -aunties—as well as cousins and other influential women in Pinner’s life. To pore through these recipes, and then to bake them at home, evokes in Pinner memories of the many women who created them. Pinner includes charming, often comical stories about her life and family throughout the cookbook.

With generations-old recipes that range from the familiar (Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes) to the fun (Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits), Sweet Mornings is a reliable, well-tested addition to any kitchen. These recipes are ideal for slow weekend mornings and afternoons when you want to lure family and friends to the table with the intoxicating aroma of a homemade sweet treat baking in the oven.

THINGS I’VE MADE

LEMON-CORNMEAL MUFFINS

These taste good and are very dense. No hand mixer required, just a mixing bowl and whisk. You can’t really taste the cornmeal and there’s only the slightest bit of grittiness from it. I omitted the blueberries. I used water in the glaze in place of lemon juice. I made half the recipe and got seven. Though these have good flavor, I don’t know if I’ll make them again because of their density.

MISS ROSE’S BACON QUICHE

This was very easy to make but it did have a few extra steps, including cooking the bacon. I left out the mushrooms and used a little less bacon than called for. I used a premade store-bought pie crust instead of making my own like the recipe called for. This was too much mixture for a standard 9″/1 qt. pie pan so I used one that was almost 10″. This was very good, made with eggs, milk, onion, bacon, and lots of cheese, but I think I’ll use precooked sausage next time instead of bacon and make just half.

CHOCOLATE SWIRL COFFEE CAKE

This is terrible, borderline unedible, and an epic fail. Dry, crumbly, and bitter bitter bitter from way too much unsweetened cocoa powder that wasn’t mixed with enough sugar  layered between the batter. I really wanted to use less but stuck to following the recipe.

The full recipe is to be made in a 9″ square baking dish and uses a staggering mixture of 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (that amount I suspect was a typo) and just three tablespoons of sugar in the swirl layer. I made half the batter and swirl mixture and baked it in an 8″ x 1 1/2″ round pan. The recipe didn’t state to stick a knife down into the batter and swirl it around to mix the chocolate layer in but I did it anyway. I’ve never heard of a ‘swirl’ cake that omitted that step. I made a chocolate glaze for it and that didn’t help at all.

MORNING APPLE CRISP

Very good. I left the cinnamon out of the topping and put it in the apple mixture instead. In the filling I used white sugar in place of brown sugar. I’m very familiar with baking apple crisps and I knew I wouldn’t want brown sugar in the mixture. This topping has too much brown sugar in it and the rolled (old fashioned) oats are very large and the mixture just sort of fell apart though it tasted good. In fact, the whole recipe uses way too much brown sugar.

The apples took a lot longer to bake than specified (35-45 minutes) in the recipe. I did use a slightly shorter baking dish so the apples weren’t spread out as much. Raw apples, like raw potatoes, take quite awhile to cook. After 40 minutes the topping browned as much as I wanted but the apples were still hard. I covered the top of the baking dish loosely with foil and let it bake for an additional 35 minutes. I used a 2.5qt/11″x7″ dish.

BLACKBERRY BUCKLE

This is very good. A buckle is cake batter that you top with fruit, fresh, frozen, or canned. The batter cooks up around the fruit, covering most of it. The recipe said to use a 9″ square dish (which is usually 2″ deep) but this was so much mixture. I smartly used a 10″x2.5″ 7c. capacity dish, and it was perfect.

I used slightly more than 2c. frozen berries, and it was a little too much. They weren’t as sweet as they should have been so I sprinkled close to 1/4c. white sugar on top, which gave the cooked cake a nice sweet top. Mine took 47 minutes to bake and the recipe stated to bake it 30-35 minutes. I didn’t make the crumb topping. I felt it was very unnecessary. This was very easy to make and I’d make it again. I also doubled the salt in the batter for a total of 1/4t. and it was perfect.

PUFFED CHERRY PANCAKE CASSEROLE

This is very good but it’s nothing like a pancake. It’s made with eggs, sugar, butter, flour, milk, and flavorings. It bakes up into a thick slab of firm custard and the cherries rise to the top.

I made half the recipe in a 1.5qt baking dish and baked it 25 minutes. It’s 1″ thick. I added a little almond extract to the mixture because of the cherries and used just a few dashes of cinnamon. It needed more salt so I added a little extra but that wasn’t enough. I think four tablespoons of butter was too much because it was squirting and running out of every crack so I’ll use half that amount next time.

I’m very happy with this and I’ll make it again. I already make a similar version. You could use fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries in place of cherries, or chopped canned peaches.

LEMON-COCONUT BREAD

This was terrible. Dry, dense, flavor’s not good, and was a waste of ingredients. Most sweet quick breads are moist but this one is truly drier like yeast batter bread. I made half in a 1qt. loaf pan and baked it for 38 minutes. I was only able to eat two pieces of this before it went into the trash.

PEACH COBBLER

This recipe calls for fresh or canned peaches so I used three 15oz. cans of peach chunks and some of their juice. I used a 10″x2.5″, 7c. capacity round baking dish and it was barely deep enough. I added cinnamon to the peaches and left the nutmeg out of the topping. The topping is a very very sweet, thin eggless batter that gets poured evenly over the peaches. I added a little vanilla extract to it. It needed a little more salt but other than that, it’s very good. I’m happy with how this turned out.

MY THOUGHTS: Of the eight things I baked there are only four that I’d make again. None of the cakes turned out so I’d never bake another cake from this book. There’s also a mistake in the brownie muffin recipe. It calls for ‘semisweet cocoa powder’ when there’s no such thing. There aren’t many photos in this book either.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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HOLIDAY COOKIES: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More by Chicago Tribune Staff

PUBLISHER: Agate Surrey, 10/2014
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking/Cookies
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: For nearly three decades, the Chicago Tribune has run its annual Holiday Cookie Contest, asking readers to submit recipes that are both unique and meaningful to them. Each recipe is accompanied by a brief description or story explaining why the cookie is special to the reader and their family. The Chicago Tribune’s award-winning food writers and editors carefully consider these essays, select the finalists, and then publish winning recipes.

Good Eating’s Holiday Cookies is a comprehensive collection of the best holiday cookies as curated from nearly three decades worth of reader submissions. These delicious recipes represent an eclectic mix of traditional and modern recipes from diverse cultural background and skill levels, such as Tropical Nuevo Latino Cookies, Dorie’s Dark and Stormies, and Grandma Grump’s Peanut Butter Drizzles.

Complete with full-color photography and helpful baking tips, this gorgeous compilation brings the warmth and expertise of a cross-generational baking community home for the holidays. From cookie classics to twists on old standards, Good Eating’s Holiday Cookies provides the home baker with a plethora of possibilities for any holiday party.

THINGS I’VE MADE
JOAN’S LITTLE JOYS

I’m not impressed with these cookies at all. This baked cookie looks nothing like the one in the book. Based on the appearance of these cookies while they were baking, the way they were getting very brown around the edges before the minimum baking time was up, I realized the dough was exactly like a Linzer cookie, which is basically like a shortbread cookie; no egg, baking soda, or baking powder in the dough. The photo of the finished cookie in the book shows a very pale cookie that’s decorated with a green-tinted glaze. That’s why I decided to make it- because it looked nothing like a Linzer cookie. This type of cookie softens up soon after baking and makes for a terrible sandwich cookie. They taste good, though.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH DRIED CHERRIES

This is a good-flavored sweet cookie that has ground oats in the dough. They’re a little dry. I omitted the white chocolate and added lightly toasted chopped slivered almonds, almond extract, and cherries to half the dough. To the other half I added mini semisweet chocolate chips and finely chopped almonds.

I used a 1T. cookie scoop/1 1/2″ diameter and got 36 dough balls. My cookies didn’t spread out like the ones in the photo did. If I ever make these again I’ll form the dough into a log that’s wrapped in plastic wrap, chill/freeze it and make slice-n-bake cookies out of it.


MY THOUGHTS: This is an attractive book, inside and out, but I’m very disappointed in it. I only like one of the two recipes I tried and there’s only about three more recipes I’d try.

 

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

SALLY’S BAKING ADDICTION: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix by Sally McKenney

PUBLISHER: Race Point Publishing, 3/2014
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: Named by Huffington Post as one of the “Top 10 Food Blogs to Watch” in 2013, Sally’s Baking Addiction has skyrocketed in popularity since its inception in late 2011. Baking addict and food blogger, Sally McKenney loves to bake. Her famous Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies won Nestle’s Dark Chocolate contest in 2013, and now, in her first cookbook, Sally shares her baking secrets with fans everywhere.

Try her No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Pie, her delectable Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cupcakes, or her yummy Marshmallow Swirl S’mores Fudge. Featuring a brand new selection of desserts and treats, the Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook is fully illustrated and offers 75 scrumptious recipes for indulging your sweet tooth–including a chapter of healthier dessert options for those who follow a vegan or gluten-free lifestyle. With dozens of simple, easy-to-follow recipes, you get all of the sweet with none of the fuss!

THINGS I’VE BAKED

DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

This isn’t moist at all. It’s dense and very dry. This went into the trash can after eating just one piece. I made half the recipe in an 8″ square pan and it baked in 18 minutes. The toothpick came out with moist crumbs on it so I know the dryness wasn’t due to overbaking. The full recipe only has three tablespoons of milk in it. I followed the recipe and I’m convinced the lack of milk in the recipe is what ruined it. The frosting is good but that’s the only positive thing about this. I made half the frosting and used just 2 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, which was about three tablespoons less than called for, and less milk. Anymore and it would have been too bitter for my liking.

PEANUT BUTTER CHUNK OATMEAL BARS
These are pretty good. They use chunky peanut butter, old fashioned oats, mini semisweet chocolate chips, milk, and a few other things. No egg. They’re not too sweet. They’re made in an 8″ square pan. I cut mine into six bars, not twelve. I didn’t make the chocolate peanut butter drizzle for the top. I think I’d like these better with creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy because the peanuts fall out when you take a piece off with the fork.

FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES

I wish you knew how good these are. I added about 3/4 teaspoon of lemon extract to the dough because I’m obsessed with lemon sugar cookies. I didn’t make frosting for these but rolled the dough balls in granulated sugar instead. I got 25 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. I chilled the dough an hour, stirring once halfway, which is how long it took for the dough to be firm enough to scoop out without the dough sticking to the scoop.

These are excellent with lemon added. I baked the first batch for 10 1/2 minutes and the next batch for 11 minutes because the first batch wasn’t crunchy enough. The dough spread out nicely and produced a cookie that’s got some thickness to it. They’re crunchy on the outside and chewy, not cakey, on the inside. The bottoms are a deep golden color. I have nothing bad to say about these. This alone is truly worth the price of the book. You could roll the dough in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar too.

When I baked the last six, for some reason they didn’t spread out as much as the two other batches though they were baked on the same temperature, in the same oven, and the dough sat at room temperature for fifteen minutes like before. Go figure!

OATMEAL SCOTCHIES

Theses cookies taste very good but mine didn’t spread out much, only by about 1/2″-3/4″. I used mini semisweet chocolate chips in place of butterscotch and I omitted the cinnamon. I made just half the recipe and got 27 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. They baked in 10 minutes. To the rest of the dough, I warmed it slightly in the microwave and spread each dough ball out slightly with my fingers on the cookie sheet. They baked up nicely that way and looked normal. They need more salt.

CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Excellent recipe. I didn’t press down on the cookies with the tines of a fork to make the criss cross pattern before baking. The recipe uses salted butter and no added salt. I used unsalted butter and added 1/4 teaspoon of salt but they needed a bit more. I didn’t add peanuts either. The cookies are very sweet. I got 31 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. I had to chill the dough for 2 1/2 hours before it was firm enough to use the scoop.

With the first batch I flattened the dough balls slightly because I was scared they wouldn’t spread out. I baked them for ten minutes. They spread out too much for my liking. I wanted the second batch crunchier so I baked for eleven minutes and I didn’t flatten them at all. The cookies were crunchy on the outside and chewy inside and they looked great.

BROWN SUGAR MARBLE POUND CAKE

This is very, very moist. It’s made with vegetable oil and equal parts sugar and brown sugar. It tastes a bit off and I can’t taste the chocolate much. I made my own chocolate frosting for it. I made half the recipe in a 1 qt. loaf pan. It baked in 53 minutes. I also doubled the salt to 1/4 teaspoon but it’s not enough. I also used less vanilla extract. I wouldn’t make this again. It looks good but doesn’t taste so great.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

These muffins are made with vegetable oil, yogurt, and cocoa powder and require no mixer, just a large bowl and spoon. I made half the recipe and got nine standard size muffins using a 1/4 c. measuring cup to measure out the batter for each. I used muffin liners and the muffins didn’t stick to them at all when I peeled them off.

I didn’t bake these at a very high temperature for five minutes then lower the temperature like I was supposed to do. I just baked them on 350 degrees F for 18 minutes. They’re very moist and not too sweet. I did add vanilla extract though the recipe called for none. I used mini semisweet chocolate chips. These needed a pinch more salt. I love the way they look, with the cracks on top and I would definitely make these again.

MY THOUGHS: This is a very nice hardcover book that has a photo of every recipe but not always one of the finished product, with the oatmeal scotchies being an example of that. At the time of this review I’ve made seven recipes. All but two of them turned out good. The sugar cookies and peanut butter cookies are truly great recipes with the sugar cookies being the most versatile since you can add anything to the dough- nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, ect. There’s a great variety of flavors too, like peanut butter, apple, chocolate, caramel.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

BAKING STEP BY STEP: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO START BAKING NOW! by Better Homes and Gardens

PUBLISHER:  BHG, 3/2015
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: Better Homes and Gardens Baking Step by Step is the ultimate guide and idea-generator for anyone who wants to learn to bake or hone their technique. This stunning book uses clear, step-by-step photos—more than 900 of them—to illustrate essential skills from folding batter to forming a lattice pie crust. Home bakers can make 350 classic and modern treats, both sweet and savory.

Learn to roll and bake the perfect flaky tart or frost and decorate a celebration-worthy cake—or start simple with Peanut Butter Blondie Bars or Blueberry Crisp; Skill Level icons flag recipes easy, easier, or easiest to make. Complete with an Intro to Baking covering everything from stocking the kitchen to using a rolling pin, this colorful book makes baking fun and accessible for everyone.

Review with photos here.

CHOCOLATE CHIP SWEETS: FAVORITE RECIPES FROM CELEBRATED CHEFS by Tracey Zabar

PUBLISHING: Rizzoli, 9/2015
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
AUTOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: Chocolate chip cookies, bursting with melted bits of chocolate, are the perennial favorite of many Americans. For this compilation, Zabar has reached out to the celebrated icons of the baking world to collect an amazing array of user-friendly recipes beyond the classic cookie. There are the signature creations of such top restaurants as Manhattan’s Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, and Betony, and California’s the French Laundry, while others are treasured family recipes. Chefs such as Jacques Torres, Daniel Boulud, Lidia Bastianich, Dominique Ansel, and Sherry Yard share such classics as shortbread cookies and angel food cake studded with chips. Some reinterpret the cookie and make giant variations, such as Florian Bellanger’s Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies, while others include add-ins like fresh fruit and nuts, or fold in pretzels and candied orange rind. Puddings, pies, ice-cream sandwiches, cakes, doughnuts, brownies, marshmallows, and waffles, oozing with chocolate, are part of the mix. In this beautifully photographed volume, Zabar discusses how to bake with the variety of flavorful chocolate bits available—ranging from traditional chips and pistoles (or coins) to pearls. Chocolate Chip Sweets will appeal to discriminating chocolate chip lovers who crave this satisfying taste sensation.

THINGS I’VE MADE
JACQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

This cookie is the one on the books cover. It looks a lot better than it tasted. It’s very buttery. It’s attractive but I don’t care for the flavor of them and wouldn’t make them again. The dough balls spread out nicely and I love the crackle top. The ones in the photo were from my first batch. They were baked on 325 degrees for 15 minutes but that was too long. 13.5 minutes is the perfect time for 1 tablespoon of dough.


RASPBERRY MUFFINS

These miniature muffins are actually called’ chocolate chip berry muffins’. I left out the chocolate and used whole milk in place of cream. They’re supposed to be made with cake flour but I used all-purpose and just left out two tablespoons of it. I made half the recipe and got 23, using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to measure out the batter. They baked in 14 minutes, six minutes less than the recipe stated. The full recipe (using 1 1/2 c. flour) states you’ll get about 24, which is clearly wrong. You’ll get double that amount, or 12 regular size muffins. I added vanilla extract and a bit of almond extract to the batter but it needed more almond.

These are incredibly moist, almost too moist because of the raspberries. The tops were gummy the next day. They’re not quite sweet enough. Despite those things this is a very good recipe. The muffin cups are almost 2″ in diameter. The baked muffin tops are flat like in the photo in the book.



PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These are beyond great and worth the price of the book. They have oats in them and only three tablespoons of peanut butter. I was positive I wouldn’t be able to taste the peanut butter but I was wrong. I can taste and smell it. I think someone experimented with an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe by adding a little peanut butter to it and that’s how this recipe came to be. Just for the heck of it I’ll add an extra tablespoon of peanut butter to make 1/4 cup/4 tablespoons.I used a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon cookie scoop and got 35 dough balls. The dough is soft and took ninety minutes to be firm enough to scoop out without sticking to the scoop. The cookies in my photos were baked eleven minutes and were too crunchy after they cooled but ten minutes was perfect for the other batches, at 350 degrees. My cookies actually look better than the photo in the book.

 

OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

These turned out great. I made half the recipe. I left out the chocolate chips and added chopped pecans and cinnamon. We were told to let the melted butter cool ‘slightly’ so I let it cool for just ten minutes. The temperature dropped 30 degrees, from 136 down to 106 Fahrenheit. I got 38 dough balls using a 1 1/2″ diameter/1 tablespoon scoop. It took eighty minutes for the dough to be firm enough to scoop out. The dough spread out good and these baked in 10 1/2 minutes. My only complaint is that the dough needed more salt. I think I’ll use 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon next time, not 3/4 teaspoon. I’ll definitely make these again and maybe divide the dough in half, adding chocolate chips to one half.

MY THOUGHTS: The four things I baked turned out great in appearance and I liked the taste of them all except for the chocolate chip cookies, the first thing I baked out of this. There are still quite a few things I want to make out of the book, including several more chocolate chip cookie recipes. There aren’t enough photos of the finished products and I wish publishers would understand the importance of them. I prefer to see what I’m baking before I actually bake it.

There’s a good variety of recipes, like cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, and so on. I like that you can omit chocolate chips and substitute other things in place of them, like dried fruits and nuts, and create your own recipes.

I’m pretty happy with this book and can’t wait to try more recipes.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

SALLY’S CANDY ADDICTION by Sally McKenney

PUBLISHER: Race Point Publishing, 9/2015
GENRE: Cookbooks/Candy
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Sally McKenney, creator and author of Sally’s Baking Addiction, is back with a brand-new cookbook chock-full of a whole new host of treats for your sweet-tooth fix. If you’re a candy and sweets lover, then look no further. Complete with over 75 brand new recipes, indulge in truffles, fudge, caramels, and marshmallows. And if you like Oreos, Reese’s, Snickers, or other candy bar favorites, Sally will show you the best ways to incorporate these into cookies, cupcakes, bars, and more.

Complete with easy-to-follow, step-by-step recipes, Sally’s signature photography for every recipe, and snippets from Sally’s own kitchen experiences, Sally’s Candy Addiction has a recipe for every candy lover in your life.

THINGS I’VE MADE
ULTIMATE PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIES

This is a chocolate brownie with peanut butter ‘filling’ that I used as frosting. It’s supposed to have a layer of chocolate frosting on top of the peanut butter filling with chopped Reese’s Pieces on top of that, but I left those two off. The batter has both melted semi-sweet chocolate and a little unsweetened cocoa powder. They’re bitter and wet-looking, not at all like Sally’s photo of them. I made half the recipe in an 8″ square foil lined pan and baked for 22 minutes. The filling/frosting is very good but needed more milk to make it creamier, but the brownies themselves aren’t good at all. I’d never make these again.

COCONUT CANDY BARS

You’re supposed to chill the mixture, cut it into tiny rectangles, and dip each one into melted chocolate. As you can see I made balls out of this candy instead. I think I got 46. These are made from sweetened condensed milk, a whole bag of sweetened coconut, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. After mixing this up by hand (you can’t use a mixer for this) I was very worried and almost threw it in the trash because it was so dense and sticky and unlike anything I’d ever worked with before.

I added one more cup of powdered sugar (3c. total), almond extract (3/8t.), and ground lightly toasted almonds. After pressing the mixture into a lined square pan and chilling it for a short time I decided to roll the mixture into balls. I quick-chilled the balls in the freezer on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, just until the mixture was firm enough to be dipped into melted chocolate. My balls flattened because the dough wasn’t firm enough, but that’s fine. When I make candy like this, such as peanut butter balls, I stick a toothpick in each ball for easy dipping. You don’t need to mess with dipping the candy with two forks. I always use milk chocolate chips melted with paraffin wax.* The wax thins the chocolate, making it much easier to work with. The chocolate/wax mixture, when you dip something in it, will run off almost like water.

This is a really good recipe. Next time I’ll chill the mixture in the mixing bowl for one hour, roll it into balls, chill those for another hour in the fridge or for 20 minutes in the freezer, then dip them in chocolate.

* Gulf Wax is a brand of paraffin wax. It’s sold in a 16 oz. box and can be found in the baking isle of your grocery store. It has four 4 oz. blocks inside. You’ll need half (2 oz.) of one block per 11.5-12 oz. bag of chocolate chips of your choice.

Chop the wax finely, add it, along with the chocolate, to a small bowl so you can melt it using the double boiler method. Sit the small bowl on top of a small pot, 1 qt. size if you have one, that’s filled with 1″ of simmering water. The bowl that’s on top shouldn’t touch the water beneath it. Keep stirring the wax/chocolate mixture until all the wax has melted. This could take ten minutes or so. I then pour the mixture into a very small (13 oz.), deep bowl (don’t use a shallow bowl) and dip my candy into that. I also stick the toothpick into the side of the very cold candy because it’ll leave a small hole when you remove it and the hole looks better on the side of the candy than on the top. Cover any remaining chocolate tightly and store in refrigerator. It will probably keep for a few months. To reuse, uncover and melt in the microwave.

MY THOUGHTS: Only one of the two recipes I tried turned out. There’s a good variety of sweets in the book, mostly fudge and truffles, but not much that interests me. Some of the recipes are just variations on another recipe in the book. I’m pretty disappointed in this book but I may fiddle with a couple more recipes in the future.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

FLAVORFUL: 150 Irresistible Desserts in All-Time Favorite Flavors by Tish Boyle

PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9/2015
GENRE: Nonfiction/Cookbooks/Baking
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Pastry chefs have a secret weapon—an insiders’ list of customers’ most popular flavors. Vanilla, berry and cherry, apple, citrus, cheese, nuts, caramel, coffee, and chocolate: These are the surefire hits that appear on menus across the country time and again. Author Tish Boyle has translated this list of go-to ingredients into a stunning collection of more than 150 recipes for baked goods and other desserts, with a chapter dedicated to each singular flavor. Recipes range from easy cookies and brownies to gorgeous layer cakes to spoonable parfaits to playful takes on donuts, cream puffs, candies, and ice cream. Boyle is a favorite among pastry chefs and bakers in the know for her reliable and pitch-perfect recipes, which are given here in both volume and weight measurements. Combined with luscious photography and a timeless, classic design, this is a must-have for bakers and dessert-lovers of all stripes.


CATEGORIES: Vanilla, Berries and Cherries, Apple, Citrus, Sweet Cheese, Nuts, Caramel, Coffee, Chocolate
THINGS I’VE MADE

CHOCOLATE-CHOCOLATE CHUNK BROWNIE COOKIES

This recipe produced a soft dough that needed to be refrigerated several hours before baking. The dough is nice and sweet but a bit too bitter. I used bittersweet chocolate (60%) when the recipe called for dark chocolate (64%). I used 50% more salt and I doubled the amount of vanilla extract, as chocolate requires more vanilla than usual and this certainly needed more. I added mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter instead of chopped dark chocolate, and I added 1c. lightly toasted finely chopped pecans. My chocolate was slightly sweeter than the recipe called for and though the dough is sweet, 6 oz. was too much melted chocolate. I would definitely make this again but I’d use 4 oz. of melted chocolate, not 6 oz. and I wouldn’t add any chocolate chips at all to the dough, as that only helped make it more bitter, and I’d add an extra 1/2 c. of nuts. I used a 1 1/4″ diameter/2 teaspoon cookie scoop and got 57 dough balls.

The cookie, depending on how long you bake it, is slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy and brownie-like on the inside. It spread out nicely but not as much as I thought it would. That’s why I used a smaller cookies scoop but I’d use a slightly larger one (1 1/2″/3 teaspoon) next time. This is a good looking, nicely textured cookie.

 
EXTRA-CRUMBLY MUFFINS

Very good and very moist. These are actually called Extra-Crumbly Blueberry Muffins are have lemon zest and cinnamon added to the batter and just cinnamon added to the crumb topping. I used frozen raspberries instead, no zest or cinnamon, as I don’t like blueberries and I’m particular about what I put cinnamon in. I used slightly more raspberries than called for and I cut them in half before adding to batter. I also added a little almond extract but couldn’t taste it. I made just half and got six. I baked them in a square muffin pan using square liners (Wilton brand) for 25 minutes.

I think the crumb topping shouldn’t have been equal parts sugar and flour but should have used half the amount of sugar. Glaze wasn’t part of the recipe but I made some, adding almond extract and vanilla, and drizzled/spread it on top of the muffins when they were only a little warm. I think almond goes great with raspberries but not cinnamon. The muffins need a pinch more salt but other than that, they’re perfect and I’d definitely make them again but without the crumb topping. I don’t really care for crumb toppings on cakes and muffins. I think they should be for crisps only. I almost always make a powdered sugar glaze for muffins. You could make the full recipe in a 9″ square pan.


SWEET CHERRY AND PEACH CRISP
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I wasn’t sure how well cherries and peaches would go together since I’d never mixed the two before. I’d only used sweet cherries (canned) once before many years ago and the cake went into the trash. A sweet cherry by itself is not good so I didn’t know what to expect from this recipe. I always use almond extract with cherries and sometimes with peaches so I did so with this recipe. This is one good tasting crisp.

I was supposed to use fresh peaches and cherries but I used two one-pound bags of sliced unsweetened peaches and one 12oz. bag of frozen cherries. I used an 11″ x 7″ 2 qt. baking dish and the filling filled it perfectly. The crumb topping is very good but a little too sweet. It has ground almonds in it. I didn’t add more sliced almonds to the topping. I also used white sugar in the filling in place of brown sugar. This recipe is a definite keeper but I think I’d use one drained can of tart pitted cherries in place of the sweet ones.

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LINZER COOKIES WITH SOUR CHERRY FILLING

These are actually called Pistachio Linzer Hearts with Sour Cherry Filling. I used lightly toasted ground almonds in place of pistachios and used a round fluted 2″ cookie cutter in place of a heart shaped one. They’re good, you can use any preserves/jam/frosting in place of sour cherry fruit spread, but the cookies softened up very soon after assembling them, making them delicate, even when stored in an airtight container. Because of that I wouldn’t use this recipe again.

I divided the dough into thirds, not just two pieces like the recipe stated, because I didn’t want the dough, once rolled between two sheets of wax paper, to extend past the sides of the paper so I needed to use less dough to ensure that didn’t happen. After cutting the cookies out I got another long strip of dough from all the scraps from the three parts, for a total of four. I got 79 cookies, which made 39 sandwich cookies, three less than recipe stated. I layered the cutout dough between the eight strips of wax paper that was used to roll out the dough and stored it in a large plastic container in the refrigerator until I was ready to bake some, then stored the remaining dough in a smaller container in the freezer.

This same recipe is in her previously published book that I just bought, The Good Cookie, under the title Linzer Hearts, page 276.

I used a Wilton® linzer cookie cutter set that I bought 11/2014 at Walmart for just under $5. I used Smucker’s® fruit spread.


APPLE CRISP WITH PECAN-OAT TOPPING

I love me some cooked apples with cinnamon. After I mixed up the topping it was too wet so I added more flour then it was very firm. I added a bit of water to it to soften it up because I didn’t know what else to do and didn’t want to add anymore butter to it since it hadn’t turned out as it was. That worked OK. The topping doesn’t look like it should but it tastes good. But I wouldn’t make it again.

I didn’t follow the instructions for the filling because I’m very familiar with baking with raw apples and they take quite awhile to cook. I covered my dish with foil and baked the apples without the topping for 40 minutes, removed it from the oven, stirred the apples, put the topping on and baked them at a lower temperature for an additional 25 minutes. I basically followed my own recipe for the filling but followed the recipe for the topping and it’s not one I’d make again. This was the first time a crumb topping didn’t turn out.


CORNMEAL SCONES

These are actually called Blueberry Cornmeal Scones. I used dried cherries instead of blueberries and made just half. Though I measured out the flour and cornmeal by weight my dough was too wet so I had to add extra flour, then they seemed perfect. I patted it out into about a 7″ circle, then cut into four pieces. They browned beautifully without using egg wash on top. I made glaze for the tops. They taste pretty good with dried cherries and a bit of almond extract in the dough. There’s no egg in these.

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed baking from this book. I’m happy there were some recipes using cherries. There are a few things I wanted to make but didn’t get around to it, like two different lemon cakes and orange cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, ect.

The book is beautiful, I love the deep burgundy spine, but like a lot of cookbooks, this one needs more photos of the baked goods. There aren’t many. Many of the recipes seem a little too fancy for me and two of the categories I wasn’t interested in at all, sweet cheese and the other, coffee. The majority of recipes I’m not interested in.

 

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

GRANDBABY CAKES: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories by Jocelyn Delk Adams

grandbabyPUBLISHER: Agate Surrey, 9/2015
GENRE: Cookbook/Baking
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories is the debut cookbook from sensational food writer, Jocelyn Delk Adams. Since founding her popular recipe blog Grandbaby Cakes in 2012, Adams has been putting fresh twists on old favorites. Adams has earned praise from critics and the adoration of bakers both young and old for her easygoing advice, rich photography, and the heartwarming memories she shares of her family’s generations-old love of baking.

Readers will love this cookbook for its eclectic and bold recipes steeped in equal parts warm Southern charm and fresh Midwestern flavors. Not only will home bakers be able to make staples like yellow cake and icebox cake exactly how their grandmothers did, but they’ll also be preparing impressive innovations, like the Pineapple Upside-Down Hummingbird Pound Cake and the Fig-Brown Sugar Cake. Grandbaby Cakes is a collection for both new-aged and traditional bakers, but mostly it’s for anyone who wants a fresh, modern take on classic recipes as well as cakes full of heart and soul.

CATEGORIES: Pound Cakes, Layer Cakes, Sheet Cakes, Baby Cakes, Celebration Cakes, Seasons and Holidays

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THINGS I’VE MADE

SOUTHERN COCOA-COLA CAKE

colacakebodice

This chocolate cake is made with a small amount of cocoa powder and has cola and melted marshmallows in both the batter and frosting. The cake needs a little more cocoa, salt, and wasn’t quite as moist as I’d hoped it would be but was good. I like the frosting better than the cake.

 

ARNOLD PALMER CAKE (Lemon)

This cake is very very moist and dense. It has sour cream, butter, and a bit of vegetable oil in it. I didn’t make the frosting that went with it. I made half in a 9″ X 5″ loaf pan and added poppy seeds just for looks. I used less lemon zest than it called for but it was enough. My cake sunk in the middle but that may have been my fault. I’m impressed with this cake and will add the recipe to my permanent collection.

 

LIGHTER LEMON CAKE

This cake is make with a lot of Greek yogurt, oil, and lots of lemon juice. It tastes very good, is moist, and I can actually taste the lemon juice in it. It needs a bit more salt. It’s a bit spongy and I’m not happy with that. I made half the recipe. It was a lot of batter, too much for a 9″ x 1 1/2″ round pan, so I used one that was 9 1/2″ x  2″ round. It filled it completely. If you make half, just know that about the batter.

I added poppy seeds because I like how they look. I also used a bit of clementine zest and juice to make up for not having quite enough lemon juice but I can’t taste it, which is disappointing. I made my own glaze for it (melted butter, vanilla extract, water, powdered sugar) and didn’t use the recipe in the book. I wouldn’t make this cake again because of it’s texture.

 

STRAWBERRY COCONUT CAKE

strawberrycakesliceheader

 

This was very good but not quite sweet enough. It uses puréed strawberries and sour cream. I didn’t use strawberry extract like the recipe stated and this cake needed a bit of it. I could taste strawberry without it. Just not quite enough. I made half the recipe in a 9″ square pan and baked it for 26 minutes. FYI- 1 c. of strawberries turned into 1/2 c. puréed. The cake was supposed to have cream cheese frosting with coconut sprinkled on it but I made my own vanilla frosting, as I don’t like cream cheese. I added 3/4 c. ground toasted coconut to the batter. This is a cake I’d make again and I’d add 2 1/4 t. poppy seeds to the cake batter.

 

MY THOUGHTS: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in this book. There’s a pretty good variety of cakes but there’s not much more I’d make of out it but two or three more. Only two of the four I made were decent tasting and I’m not really comfortable making anything more from this. The layer cakes look like a whole lot of work, too elaborate, like the one on the cover.
It’s physically a beautiful book but it’s not for me, I guess.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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