“It’s the finale. It’s the last impression. A bad dessert can ruin the meal.” ~ Anne McManus
No pressure, right? A lot of people are intimidated by desserts, preferring to cook a savoury meal, rather than bake something. Me, I’ve always preferred baking to cooking. I loved my Easy Bake oven, when I was a child and I was also known as the cookie monster in our family. This year, I’ve been attempting to make classic desserts that I’ve never tried before, like Crème Brûlée and my most recent attempt, Macarons.
Perfect Patisserie by Dr. Tim Kinnaird, shows you how to make the three different types of meringues – French, Italian or Swiss. I went with the Italian meringue, where the egg white is whisked with a hot sugar syrup. My first attempt wasn’t too bad – I did manage to get the “feet,” the tiny little bubbles on the edges of the meringue, but some of the shells were hollow. I learned a few things this month: 1) I need to work on my piping bag skills. 2) I don’t like macarons enough to try making them again.
Sandra made a bread pudding from an old cookbook she had at home, but also did some on-line research and discovered that this dessert is a staple in a lot of cultures. The Pioneer Woman, Martha Stewart, Anna Olson all have recipes on their websites for this comforting dessert, but Sandra says the Bon Appétit one is the best.
Food52 Genius Desserts is a great cookbook for experienced bakers to try. Prasanna liked this book so much she is considering buying it for her birthday. She tried the Pistachio Millionaires Shortbread, but found it a bit too salty, with 3.5 tsps of Kosher salt. (We all thought it was fine!) She also made the Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes.
Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts by Laurel Gallucci was the perfect cookbook for Deb’s family, since they have a lot of dietary restrictions. The only sweeteners that her daughter can tolerate are honey and dates and she was ecstatic with the Alfajores. The Vegan caramel in the recipe is one she will use for other recipes as well. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes really caramel like. The orange pistachio loaf was a really good breakfast loaf – not too sweet.
Lynda and Maureen experimented with Slow Cooker Desserts by Roxanne Wyss and Lynda admits she became a little obsessed with it. The Warm Brownie Pudding is cooked right in the slow cooker. It was quite good although not as chocolate-ty or saucy as similar recipes she has made in the oven. The French Lemon Cake had a lovely fresh flavour that comes from fresh lemon juice and the zest of one whole lemon. The texture from baking in the slow cooker is similar to a pound cake rather than fluffy like when it is baked in the oven. It is baked in a 7″ spring form pan supported by a ring of tin foil to keep it off the bottom of the slow cooker.
Cathi chose Betty Crocker’s Sheet Pan Desserts for a couple of reasons. She is always looking for recipes that will work at the lake when resources are more limited but sometimes the numbers are not! This book has recipes that serve a number of people and are straightforward in terms of ingredients. This also applies to Treat Day at work and being made in a sheet pan makes transport easy. She also likes desserts, like the Gluten-free Rocky Road Bars and the Chocolate Truffle-Topped Caramel Bars that can be a little bite to go with sherbet, which is nice and light after any meal, and makes it complete.
Harriet tested out a couple of recipes from Simple Desserts: the Easiest Recipes in the World, on dinner guests, with mixed results. The Mango Pistachio Puff Pastry Rolls turned out really well and were delicious. The mangos were so sweet and tasty, after twenty minutes in the oven. She was a little disappointed with the Chocolate truffles, which ended up being granular in texture. The recipes are all really simple, with six ingredients or less, and also use a lot of pre-made products.
Cathy found Modern Baking by Donna Hay to be a little confusing, since it jumps from cup measurements to weighted measurements and had some very complex recipes. There were a few quick and easy ones, too, like the Chai Bundt cake, which mixes all the ingredients together in one bowl. She also tried the Goji Coconut Bliss Balls, which are like an energy ball, full of almonds, coconut, and dates.
The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan is the result of collection, testing, and tweaking hundreds of heirloom recipes gathered from vintage baking booklets, resulting in a blend of nostalgia and modern-day baking. Jackie was intrigued by the idea of cookies with potato chips in them, so she had to try the Butterscotch – Potato Chip Balls and she wasn’t disappointed. They were DELICIOUS! This recipe is definitely a keeper, as well as, the Black Bottom Banana Dream Bars.
Tatiana would like to buy Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season. She ran out of regular flour while she was making her Cherry Pie, so she substituted in some peanut flour and was really happy with the results. It made the dough very pliable and she plans on making all of her pie crusts with peanut flour, from now on. It was also her first time making a lattice topping, which turned out great. The Rice Krispie Granola Bars were also a success.