Something Sweet Cookbook. Miriam Pascal. My Review

Something Sweet has just been published by Someone Sweet:

Order Your Copy Today on Amazon!

 Miriam Pascal, who runs the popular blog Overtime Cook. Kudos to Miriam for her first Cookbook, a beautiful dessert cookbook. You can see by a number of features in the book that Miriam is not only sweet and lovely, but thoughtful, talented and competent:

– Miriam photographed all her recipes and made all her picture compositions. One beautiful photograph for each recipe. This alone blew me away. Talk about Multitasking! And Multitalented! Youthful and playful photographic style too.

– A good food blogger must no doubt appear professional in all areas, not just appealing pictures and tried-and-true recipes, but professionally and grammatically correct. But it’s one thing to blog away (you can endlessly edit blog posts), and it’s quite another to crank out a professional-looking book, and Miriam has done just that, hitting a home run on her very first inroad into the Publishing World. I don’t know about you, but I am mighty impressed!

– Miriam’s personal style and affable personality are fully stated on every page. Something Sweet is a faithful emanation of her, both recipes and pictures: that it is all clear and well laid out is a given. But there is more: All of the pictures clearly express that you, the home cook, can do it, in the comfort of your own kitchen, with no fanfare and no great crisis in store for some highfalutin-dessert flop. Understated, homey and unthreatening: that’s the order of the day. In Something Sweet, not even the party cakes look daunting, none are over-the-top decorated, none overly ornate or frilly. She clearly has the home cook’s back. The great reward this delivers, in addition to simplicity and beauty, is something precious and often overlooked: It looks homemade. Emulating the commercial look is a fatal culinary (and indeed artisanal, across the board) mistake, and Miriam consistently stays clear of that pitfall.

– Something Sweet has a familiar, crowd-pleasing repertoire, dessert classics recast with Miriam’s own personal take. No weird or gimmicky dessert choice anywhere. Cookies, biscotti, muffins, cupcakes, confections, party cakes. Even dessert accessories like sweet snacks and drinks: Rice Krispie treats, sweet and spicy roasted nuts, hot apple cider, milkshakes. Whew! I’ll bet all kids big and small are going to love her!

– Something Sweet has an immensely advantageous practical side that will make even the timid baker feel confident and in fully in charge: No end of tips (freezing, ingredient substitutions, kitchen equipment, conversions, measuring, etc), a most helpful Holiday Guide, several applications for customized dessert compositions in every permutation, using her frostings, toppings and sauces and step-by-step basic decorating tips.

I have only found one issue in Something Sweet, and thankfully only in about a quarter of the total recipes: the use of three culinary nemeses most of us were hoping would have long since been relegated to the attic along with some other outmoded culinary calamities circa the Fifties and a little beyond; three anachronisms: Splenda, corn syrup and non-dairy whipped topping. So sorry, but this is not cool. Since Miriam’s beautiful book is the latest book off the press, it begs the question: Where was the author when all the recent wonderful breakthroughs about all the delicious natural non-caloric sweeteners and dairy-free natural cream ingredients were made in the Food Industry? I respectfully do not understand it. No, the laws of eating real food made with real ingredients never get suspended, not even at dessert time! Hoping to see some worthwhile edits in the second edition of her book PG, in keeping with Miriam’s intelligent, fresh and modern outlook on Desserts.

Wishing Miriam loads of success. And leaving you with one of her delicious recipes:

Pomegranate Cupcakes. Pareve | Yield 1 dozen

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

1½ cups powdered sugar

2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate juice, divided

Pomegranate seeds, for garnish, optional

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard (12-cup) cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.

2 In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together oil and sugar until smooth and creamy.

3 Add vanilla, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and eggs. Beat until combined.

4 Alternately add half the flour and half the pomegranate juice, beating after each addition until incorporated.

5 Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each cup about three-quarters full.

6 Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are set. Remove from oven; cool completely before glazing.

7 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.

8 Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the glaze, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Variation: The flavors of pomegranate and chocolate go really well together, so you can frost these with Chocolate Fudge Frosting (page 188).

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.

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