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.




THINGS I'VE BAKED 

TWO-CHEESE VEGETABLE QUICHE


Now this was good and is something I'll make for the rest of my life. It has eggs, a little milk, two cheeses, finely chopped carrot, condensed cream of broccoli soup, garlic, pepper, and I used dried chives in place of fresh green onion. This is basically a frittata in a pie crust with the addition of soup- anything you'd add to your scrambled eggs/omlet you can add to this, including leftover finely chopped cooked veggies and any seasonings you'd like. You could also use condensed cream of potato (which has good flavor. I use it for pot pie) or cream of mushroom.

You prebake the pie crust for about 15 minutes at a high temperature, which I don't think is necessary, pour your egg mixture into it, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. That will happen after the top browns slightly and puffs up. Mine baked in 37 minutes on 350 degrees. It was almost 1 1/2 c. too much mixture for a standard 9"/1qt. pie plate so I had to throw the extra out. Next time I'll use my 10" pie plate. I think there's a bit too much cheese, 1c. total, so I'll cut back next time. I finely chopped my cheese instead of shredding it in the food processor. I won't use a crust next time either- I'll line the pie plate with foil and spray it generously with nonstick cooking spray and pour the mixture right into it. The egg will set up and be firm and will come right out of the foil-lined dish. If you love the taste of store-bought or homemade pie crust, use it. I don't care for crust so the foil method will be what I use.

EDIT: I made this using foil sprayed heavily with nonstick cooking spray and the egg stuck just a little in a few places. I made it again a few weeks later using nonstick foil and nothing stuck at all.

The quiche bakes up to a pretty thin layer, just under an inch in height. This doesn't get that awful browned egg taste either.



HERBED CHEESE AND BACON BISCUITS

 photo biscuitheader_zpswyu8fhcf.png

These didn't turn out too good. They're doughy inside, outside has a smooth batter-type look, and they barely browned on top. The flavor is alright. I can't taste the herbed cheese much and I can't taste the cooked onion at all. I didn't use bacon. The bottom of the biscuit has a good taste. I definitely wouldn't make these again.

 photo biscuitfooter_zpswdsvvnzx.png



CHOCOLATE CAKE


This cake is perfect but needed a pinch more salt. Tastes like a boxed devil's food cake and uses unsweetened cocoa powder. I made half the recipe and lined the bottom of the pan with wax paper for easy removal of the cake. There was too much batter for a 9" x 1 1/2" round pan but it didn't spill over. You can see in my photo that the cake is thick because of it. I recommend using 9" x 2" round pans for this if you have them. It took 28 minutes to bake.

You can't really see it in the photo but I made a chocolate pourable frosting for this then put my own thicker vanilla frosting on top of that. This recipe gives you several frosting options but I chose to use my own. Very good and very simple to make, and I'll definitely continue to make this.



CHOCOLATE CHIP-OATMEAL CAKE


This is a unique cake. You soak quick oats in boiling water for a short time. This also has a minuscule amount of unsweetened cocoa powder in it, 1 tablespoon for full recipe, and full size chocolate chips. It's very moist but has a slight spongy texture and needs more salt, probably 1/4 teaspoon more for half the cake. It's a bit off-tasting but that seemed to get better the next day. The chocolate chips sunk to the bottom. Because of the sponginess I wouldn't make this again though it's not a bad recipe.

I made half the recipe in an 8" x 2" round pan. I lined the bottom of the pan with wax paper for easy cake removal. It baked in 30 minutes. The recipe didn't call for vanilla extract but I added some. I used mini semisweet chocolate chips in the batter and they sunk to the bottom. I didn't sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips on top before baking like the recipe stated to do but did make my own pourable chocolate frosting for it and sprinkled it with lightly toasted and chopped pecans.

Pourable chocolate frosting: In microwave-safe quart size bowl heat together 2 tablespoons butter or margarine and 4 1/2 teaspoons whole milk until the butter has melted. Add to that 1 cup powdered sugar, one tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Mix well and pour over cooled cake. It will firm up slightly as it sits but will remain a bit moist. You can make this a thicker frosting by using room temperature butter and room temperature milk and beating all ingredients together at once with a hand mixer.




SUGAR COOKIE CUTOUTS


I added lemon extract to this dough. I formed the dough into a plastic wrapped log and refrigerated it to make them slice 'n bake cookies instead of rolling them out and using cookie cutters. I got twenty-two 1/2" slices/2" diameter cookies that baked up to be 2 3/4" wide. I baked them for nine minutes. These smell and taste good but they're cake-like and I'm not happy about that. The dough never got very firm and I just don't think this would make a good rollout dough. I through the remaining dough in the trash.




STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE


I made half of this in an 8" x 2" round pan. I lined the bottom with wax paper. This cake is supposed to have blueberries and a mixture of brown sugar and pecans layered between the batter and sprinkled on top. I used drained tart pitted cherries tossed with almond extract in place of blueberries, ground almonds and a mixture of light brown sugar and white sugar in the streusel instead of all brown sugar. The recipe had no salt in it so I added 1/4 teaspoon and it was perfect. The cake is alright, nothing special, and not as moist as I'd hoped. The flavor is decent but the moisture from the cherries mixing with the sugar from the streusel made it soggy in the middle. The amount of glaze I made was enough. You'll need to use at least three bowls to make this. I wouldn't make this again.



CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE


This recipe turned out to be almost perfect. I overcooked mine a little, which caused the pecans to overbrown, be a touch bitter, and store-bought crust to crumble away on the outside (which is fine by me since I don't like crust). I made half the recipe in my mothers ancient (from about the early 1980's) clear mini Pyrex pie plate. It's has a 2 1/2 c. capacity and measures internally 7" x 1 1/2".

I don't know why this recipe didn't have salt in it but I added 1/4 t. and it was perfect, even with the salty margarine I used. I used 1/3 c. bittersweet chocolate chips since I didn't have semisweet and I used 2/3 c. chopped pecans. It cooled at room temperature for almost three hours before I cut into it. It was still slightly warm but it held its shape perfectly when cut. This will be my go-to pecan pie recipe, with or without chocolate, and I'll make sure to not overbrown it. The pie didn't taste as burnt as it looks!




WHITE CAKE


These cupcakes turned out perfectly. I made just half the recipe and made cupcakes instead of a round cake. I used foil liners. I got ten standard size cupcakes that baked in 16-17 minutes. To the batter I added half of a small jar of maraschino cherries that were drained and puréed in the food processor for four seconds. The cake uses egg whites, not whole eggs, that don't have to be whipped up separately. It's extremely moist. I added 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract, which I always add to batter that uses maraschino cherries, but I couldn't taste it so I'll need to use 1/4 teaspoon next time. I made my own buttercream frosting for it though the recipe gave me several frosting options to use with it.




CHERRY COBBLER


This was great. I love tart cherries but hardly ever use them. I made a little less than the recipe stated. I used three cans of drained tart pitted cherries plus part of another can, for about 5 cups total, not six like the recipe stated. I used 1/4 cup less sugar and slightly less corn starch. I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt though the recipe called for none. Salt is 100% necessary in this filling. I added 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract and its taste is subtle and perfect. The mixture is a little too juicy and needed more corn starch. Next time I'll spoon off some of the sauce before baking it. The topping is a moist drop topping. You cut cold butter into dry ingredients then stir in an egg and milk and drop it evenly over the batter. I added 1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the mixture. The topping needs more sugar but other than that, it's good. Good recipe and I'll make half next time.

I used Oregon™ red tart cherries. One can drained is about 1 1/2 cups.




CRANBERRY POUND CAKE


I cut this recipe in half and made six jumbo cupcakes (twice the size of standard ones) instead, using a heaping 1/3 c. of batter for each one. As you can see that was all the batter needed to fill these. I added orange extract too and slightly more dried cranberries than called for though they needed more. These could use more sugar too. The texture is nice but these aren't as moist as I'd hoped even though the batter has sour cream in it. In fact it's pretty dry. I also made a glaze for them. They baked in 25 minutes. I don't think I'd make these again.




DESSERT OVEN PANCAKE


This is baked egg custard so I'm not sure why they've called it a 'pancake', which is nothing like custard. It's very good and very unhealthy. It's made with three eggs, cream, whole milk (I just used half and half), and some other basic things.

I used very thinly sliced apples layered between the batter in place of plums or pears and I added cinnamon to the batter. Some of the apples rose to the top. I can't taste the salt at all so I'll double it next time to 1/4 teaspoon. I used far less vanilla than called for. I baked this the full time given, 55 minutes, in a 9" pie plate (1 quart capacity). It deflated to just under 1" in thickness. We were to 'generously grease' the dish so I just lined it with nonstick foil. I dusted the top with powdered sugar just for looks. This has the right amount of sugar in it. This tastes very good and I'll continue to make it. This can be made in a round or rectangular dish instead of a pie dish.





CHUNKY PATH BROWNIES


Chocolate never tasted so good. These cake-like brownies are make with a small amount of cocoa powder that you heat with butter and water, then mix into the rest of the ingredients. I made half in an 8"pan and they baked in 25 minutes. They're pretty thick, about 1 3/4", so I'd make them in a 9" square pan next time. I didn't put mini marshmallows on top nor did I make the chocolate 'topper' to pour on top of them. These needed double the salt since I can't even tell these have any in it, and that's with me already doubling the salt to 1/4 teaspoon. I dusted the top with powdered sugar and cut them into six pieces.


 

MY THOUGHTS: What fun it was baking from this for months. The book is a large paperback that's in full-color. There's photos for every recipe though not always of the finished product. The recipes are very simple to make, nothing complicated, fancy, or too time consuming, except for some yeast bread recipes. This has mostly sweets/dessert recipes with only a few biscuit and yeast bread categories. I would have liked more cookie recipes.

Only five out of twelve recipes that I've made are ones I wouldn't make again. There are so many more that I plan to try in the future. The two-cheese vegetable quiche recipe alone is worth more than the price of the book, as well as the chocolate cake recipe. The biscuits were the most disappointing.

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





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

PUBLISHING: Rizzoli, 9/2015
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR 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.