Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion
By Rachel Schifter Thebault
Published 2010, Ballantine Books
Hardback, 187 pages
DESSERT DRESSED TO THE NINESThere are few pastimes that can compete with my love of books, but baking is one of them. The premise of this cookbook seemed rather unique, as it attempted to combine baking with fashion. There is even a delightful foreword by Isaac Mizrahi to further the theme. The author, Rachel Schifter Thebault, runs her own bakery, Tribeca Treats, out of New York City, and this is her debut cookbook.
Today’s baker faces a great challenge: With little time and a limited repertoire, she often needs to whip up a delicious dessert that’s dressed to impress. Rachel Schifter Thebault, founder and head confectioner of Tribeca Treats in New York City, knows all about making a sweet statement. Combining a confectioner’s expertise with fashion sense, she shares a scrumptious cache of popular dessert recipes that can be accessorized to fit any occasion.
What’s more, transforming a basic dessert into a masterpiece brimming with personality and flair can be easy, quick, and fun. In the same way you’d plan an outfit, Sweet Chic pieces together a Devil’s Food Cake—the little black dress of delights—with such irresistible accessories as Caramel Buttercream (think knee-high boots) for ultimate decadence, turns Vanilla Cookies (the crisp oxford shirt) into Strawberry “Shortcakes” ideal for casual or dressy occasions, and blends brownies (the cashmere sweater of confectionery) with a swirl of mint for a showstopping number.
Gorgeous and appetizing color photos throughout reveal how a change of icing here and a substitute topping there can take a simple dessert from Sunday brunch to a date-night treat. Mix and match more than seventy recipes for cookies, cakes, and confections, including Peanut Butter and Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, Brownie Sundae Parfait, Mini S’mores Cupcakes, Wasabi-Black Sesame Truffles, and so much more.
Whether you’re a novice baker hoping to master the basics or an experienced one looking to add a little versatility to your existing creations, Sweet Chic is a clever and practical guide for memorable desserts, a one-sweet-fits-all way to make a tantalizing impression.
The book opens with an explanation of Rachel's philosophy of baking. In the same way that a woman uses a little black dress as the foundation of her wardrobe, using accessories to dress it up or down, so too can a baker take a basic recipe for the base of a dessert and use simple alterations to create a complete "wardrobe" of desserts for any occasion. Chocolate chip cookie dough becomes white chocolate coconut cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, snickerdoodles, or anything else a cook can dream up with a change in mix-ins. I used the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and substituted in chocolate chips, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and they came out perfect!
The book is divided into three sections: Cookies, Cakes, and Confections. Each chapter in the three sections feature a basic recipe to build on, with names such as "The Crisp Oxford Shirt," "The A-Line Skirt," and "The Leather Jacket." Following the basic recipe of each chapter are several more example recipes of how to alter the base recipe to fit your needs. Vanilla Cake becomes Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, and Basic Tempered Chocolate becomes Cranberry Almond Bark.
The detail that Rachel goes into is also quite impressive. The beginning of the book teaches the basics of baked goods by reviewing all of the major ingredients used in baking - things like eggs, cocoa powder, and extracts - as well as essential equipment used, like a cake turntable. She then goes into the basic techniques of baking, simplifying them for even the most amateur of novices, and provides a pictorial guide for icing a cake and dipping things in chocolate. Each recipe is provided with very specific details on how to perform each step, as well as ideas at the end on how to dress it up further.
I loved this cookbook, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in baking, from the amateur to the experienced baker.
The Cover: The cover is accentuated with a whimsical stack of cupcakes that look both delicious and pretty.
Read For: Off the Shelf Challenge
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*