The kosher cookbook market continues to flourish, and it can be difficult to know which cookbooks are the right match for each home cook. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen; some like to try varied international cuisines, while others prefer to stick with the more familiar; and, of course, some people are happy to spend time making complex recipes, but others are staunchly in the quick-and-easy-only camp.
From time to time I’ll be reviewing different cookbooks here, giving you a little glimpse inside each one, to help you decide which ones might be a good investment for you.
Have you heard about Something Sweet, the new dessert cookbook by Miriam Pascal? The author is a popular kosher food blogger, and her readers were very pleased when she came out with this cookbook full of exciting new recipes. The publishers have sent me a copy to review, as well as several recipes from the book that I’ve included below (click on the picture or name of the dish to be taken to the recipe). We also have a second copy of the cookbook for one of you!
The photography in this book is outstanding. Each recipe has a full-page, vibrant, beautifully styled photograph. Many food bloggers hire an outside photographer when writing a cookbook, but Miriam did all her own photography and in my opinion she couldn't have made a better choice.
The cookbook comes with an informative introduction, explaining many baking terms, offering ingredient substitution suggestions and clarifying terms used throughout the book. And in the back of the book you'll find a holiday guide, suggesting four or five recipes that relate to each Jewish holiday. Many of the recipes also include "plan ahead" instructions and advice on how to best freeze the dessert.
The recipes in this book are very American. For example, there is significant use of cream cheese and sour cream in many of the recipes, and lots of classic American flavors like apple-cinnamon, peanut-chocolate and caramel everything. The recipes also use mostly easy-to-find ingredients and are not complicated.
My main criticism would be lack of originality. The photos are great, but I didn't find a single recipe that took me by surprise, or made me say, "Wow, I've never heard of that. I'd love to try it." There are a lot of basics—blueberry pie, carrot cake, marble cake, strawberry-rhubarb tarts— andmany assorted cupcakes and cookies and cakes. So if that's what you're looking for, you will probably enjoy this cookbook. If you're looking for the next level, you may be disappointed.
Who Will Enjoy this Cookbook?
Is this cookbook for you? I can’t answer that question for you, but we’ve shared four recipes here with you, which you can try out for yourselves, and then decide.
One of the recipes that really caught my eye were these very visually appealing pomegranate cupcakes.
Pomegranates are beautiful fruits, loaded with health benefits and delicious flavors, so it’s a shame they aren’t used more in baking! These easy-to-make and unusual cupcakes have a delicate fruity flavor and pretty pink appearance, thanks to the glaze.
- ½ cup oil
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups flour
- ½ cup pomegranate juice
Pomegranate Glaze Ingredients
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate juice, divided
- pomegranate seeds, for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard (12-cup) cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together oil and sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Add vanilla, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and eggs. Beat until combined.
- Alternately add half the flour and half the pomegranate juice, beating after each addition until incorporated.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each cup about three-quarters full.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are set. Remove from oven; cool completely before glazing.
- Prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice; mix until smooth. Gradually add an additional 1-3 teaspoons juice if needed to form a thick but spreadable glaze.
- Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the glaze, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.
Yield: 1 dozen
Plan Ahead: These cupcakes freeze well in an airtight container. For best results, freeze them without the glaze and add it just before serving, but you can glaze them before freezing if necessary. Be sure to let the glaze set before you cover the cupcakes.
So, is Something Sweet a cookbook you’d love to own? We are giving away a free copy to one lucky reader. It could be you!
Purim is coming up, when it's a mitzvah to give food gifts to others. This book could help you bake up a storm to include in your mishloach manot or festive Purim meal. To enter, leave a comment sharing a memorable Purim experience you had. If you haven't had the opportunity to celebrate Purim yet, you can share a different Jewish holiday experience. (Also, we can hook you up with your closest Chabad center and you can join their Purim festivities this year. Click here to find a center near you.)
NOTE: Cookbook can be shipped only in the U.S. Entries must be made by 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. Winner will be chosen on Thursday, February 25, 2016.