Saturday, January 20, 2018


by Stella Parks

"This isn't a cookbook about making anything fancy, it's about making everything from scratch.  Not because you have to, but because it's fun".
That is a quote straight from the introduction to the book by the author Stella Parks.

This book has everything I love in a cookbook.  The beautiful, full-page, glossy photographs of almost every recipe will have your mouth watering. 
Each recipe gives the yield, active time, and downtime.  After all, there is nothing more frustrating than diving into a new recipe only to find it has to chill or set 3 hours before you can continue.  Many recipes have gluten-free and other variations.  Measurements are by volume and weight.  Parks rant on the confusing measurements of ounce by weight and ounce by volume made me feel as if I had found a kindred spirit.

The author provides a well (5 year) researched history of many classic desserts.  One of my favorite desserts is Boston Cream Pie.  As we all know, this is not actually a pie.  But why is it called pie?  The answer to that is on page 103.  Did you know the early versions did not have the fudgy chocolate glaze on the top?  To me it just wouldn't be the same without it. 

Besides the classic dessert recipes you will find recipes for some popular brand name items.  Vanilla wafers, graham crackers, Oreos, Nutter Butters, Thin Mints, Oatmeal Cream Pies, Twinkies, Hostess-Style Cupcakes, Pop-Tarts.

Then there are the recipes for things you might not have thought of making yourself.  Marshmallows, english muffins, and sprinkles.  Yes, sprinkles,  those wonderful chocolate or brightly colored toppings that always make everything more fun.  These are guaranteed to actually have flavor.  Just imagine having sprinkles in the exact color combination and flavor to coordinate with your party theme.

Some of the recipes I have tried so far are:

Chopped Chocolate Chip Cookies - I made these using mini baking M&M's.  Hey, it was a blizzard and that was what I had on hand.  This recipe turned out great.  I found the cookies tended to get a bit crunchy the next day so next time I would reduce the baking time by 4-5 minutes next time.  If you place the cookies in a sealed container with a couple of apple slices or a slice of bread, they will soften back up very nicely

Triple-Oatmeal Cookies - My cookies spread a bit more than I would have liked but they were still very good.  I divided the dough into 2 portions.  To one I added regular dried cranberries.  To the other I added the blueberry flavored dried cranberries.  They ended up tasting like a cookie version of a blueberry muffin.  And in my opinion a cookie version of anything is the best.

Snickerdoodle cookies - these turned out good, not any different than the recipe I always use.

Snip Doodles (Snickerdoodle cake) - the Snickerdoodle cookie recipe with milk added to create a batter.  This did not impress me or my volunteer taste-testers at work.

Stella Parks is a senior editor for Serious Eats website.

Other books you might enjoy:
Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur - this one also has a recipe for a Girl Scout Thin Mint clone.
Good Housekeeping Great American Classics Cookbook
Comfort Food Diet Cookbook by Taste of Home

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