Sunday, November 18, 2012


Pity the books in the 641.8654 Dewey Decimal classification system - the books on baking. They languish through the sweltering Tucson summer without as much as a passing glance but the cooler temperatures and upcoming holiday season will soon propel them off the shelves and into Pima County kitchens. Here are four titles to entice you, your family, and holiday guests.

Crazy About Cookies: 300 Scrumptious Recipes For Every Occasion & Craving is excellent for the novice as well as the experienced baker. Beginning with Cookies in the Know, a chapter on equipment, ingredients, types and techniques, author Krystina Castella divides her recipes into Everyday Cookies, Party Cookies, Occasions Cookies and Christmas Cookies. Holiday Cookies include Chinese Sesame and Almond Cookies, Day of the Dead Cookies and Jewish Holiday Cookies. In addition to a section on Cookie Exchange Cookies, Castella, an industrial designer and professor, provides templates for constructing gingerbread houses and dollhouses. Toast the New Year with black and white bow-tie cookies and champagne.

Brownies To Die For! The Complete Guide For Brownie Lovers begins with a childhood memory. While visiting a friend, Bev Shaffer, a food writer and culinary instructor tasted a wonderful chocolate, cake-like creation called a "brownie square". Bev raced home and asked her mother to bake the same delicious treat but her mother never would. Childhood brownie denial led to adult brownie obsession and Brownies To Die For! includes history, baking basics, classic creations plus every flavor and combination in-between and on-top. Recipes include Chubby Cheesecake Brownies, Walnut Fudge Brownie with Ganache and Caramel Sauce and - for a taste of the Southwest - Chipolte Brownies.

Lucy Baker, author of The Boozy Baker states that "we bake with booze because ... it imparts subtle sumptuous warmth that deepens the flavors of desserts and make them taste more decadent, luxurious and sinful." Baker offers 100 foolproof recipes for spirited sweets and cocktails. Try the Red Wine Caramel Tart on a cold winter night or serve tea with an Apricot Brandy Bar on the side.

Bite-Size Desserts: Creating Mini Sweet Treats, From Cupcakes And Cobblers To Custards And Cookies by professional pastry chef and confectioner Carole Bloom provides the home baker with big flavors in small sized portions - perfect for counting calories while satisfying your sweet tooth. Indulge your dessert cravings with petite cupcakes, mousses, custard, cookies, sorbets and candies. The author includes suggestions on when to serve the dessert as well as variations, streamlining (do-ahead) and troubleshooting.

But enough blogging. Please excuse me; I'm about ready for a bittersweet chocolate and hazelnut tartlet or a petite cheesecake with raspberry sauce.



  1. I think I just gained 20 lbs reading this. Thank you!

  2. Hee! I think the trick is to make it for other people . . . not that you don't eat anything, but it's a well-known nutritional truth that any food you share has no calories.


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