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CLASSIC SOUTHERN DESSERTS is quite simply the best cookbook I have seen in a long time on Southern desserts-- perhaps the best ever-- and is destined to become a classic. Published by the editors of the magazine "Southern Living," it contains over 200 recipes that according to the writers were selected from more than 10,000 recipes over the past 40 years. And there are almost as many color photographs as there are recipes. The pictures which are breathtaking will make your salivate. Unlike many of recent cookbooks of Southern Desserts this one makes no attempt at nouvelle cuisine, whatever that means, and offers recipes as traditional as a family reunion. And if you are looking for "cooking lite," look someplace else. For the most part these recipes are heavy on butter, sugar, nuts, flour, coconut, etc., etc. There are few cake recipes, for instance, without icing-- piled high and deep-- cream cheese frosting, praline frosting, chocolate marshmallow frosting, milk chocolate frosting, vanilla buttercream frosting, caramel frosting, coconut cream cheese frosting, nutty cream cheese frosting, 7-minute frosting, luscious lemon frosting-- you get the picture.

The chapters of recipes are as follows: "Luscious Layers & Other Cakes," "Crunchy Cookies & Chewy Bars," "Cheesecakes To Die For," "Old-Fashioned Pies, Cobblers & Tarts," 'Sweet Breads & Coffee Cakes," "Bread Puddings, Custards and More," "Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts." There is also a chapter on tips for successful baking with 13 tips on baking the perfect pound cake, the most tempermental of cakes as far as I am concerned.

A big fan of both baking and eating cheesecakes, I thought there were no more recipes to be had on the subject. I was wrong. Eleven cheesecake recipes are printed here including the New York Style South Cream-Topped Cheesecake similar to the one I bake often. But also included are Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce, Uptown Banana Pudding Cheesecake-- looks interesting-- and Irish Strawberry-and-Cream Cheesecake.

The editors outdo themseselves, however, on the chapter of the rest of the cakes: the traditional Lane Cake, Black Forest Cake, Caramel Cake, Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Coconut Cake, Italian Cream Cake, Carrot Cake. There is the obligatory Red Velvet Cake without vinegar but with 2 ounces of red food coloring and the Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake-- the reason I bought the cookbook-- that appears to be the only cake in the collection made with a mix. But as a friend of mine would say, if you add several other ingredients-- in this case strawberry gelatin among others-- you are essentially baking from scratch. What the editors called an "Updated Hummingbird Cake" makes the cut as well. By that, they mean less sugar (1 3/4 cups) and less oil than the original. And they also inform us that this recipe first appeared in "Southern Living" in 1978, was submitted by Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina and is the magazine's most requested recipe. By my counting there are 22 or more of these layer cakes and 10 or so pound cakes and some sheet cakes thrown in for good measure. Conspicious in its absence, however, is that country cousin of cakes, the Fruitcake, for which we can all say a little prayer of thanks at the family reunion.

While I'm not big on pies, the offerings here look great. Included are Key Lime Pie (it has to be made with condensed milk to meet my requirements and is), Lemon Meringue Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Pecan Pie and the obligatory Sweet Potato Pie, to name a few. Even the artsy Grasshopper Pie is here as well. The editors let us cheat and use refrigerated piecrusts. By far the best cook I ever knew swore that you couldn't tell the difference in piecrusts done from scratch and the refrigerated ones-- not the frozen ones-- you buy at the supermarket, and he was seldom wrong about baking.

Bread Puddings, Frozen desserts, Rice Puddings and Cobblers (Sweet Potato Cobbler, which is one of my favorite cobblers and one that I had never seen published before) get their place in the sun as well-- Coffee Cakes, Scones, Cookies-- you name it.

CLASSIC SOUTHERN DESSERTS is a must for anyone who believes that desserts should be showy and outrageous and that lean cuisine should be reserved for the rest of the meal. My only complaint-- and it is minor-- is that the individual recipes are not listed in a table of contents page at the beginning of each section.
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on July 2, 2010
This cookbook is gorgeous, but it relies WAY too much on box mixes and pre-packaged crusts. I was incredibly disappointed when I started reading the recipes and kept spotting ones that called for packaged-this or packaged-that. I don't understand the point of recipes that just ask you to combine box cake mixes with boxed pudding mixes and food coloring; those belong on the back of a manufacturer's box, NOT in a cookbooks.

This country relies far too much on so-called "convenience foods." Is it really that difficult to measure out a few cups of flour or a teaspoon or so of baking powder? This was not at all what I was expecting from a book about classic southern baking. Fortunately, there are some recipes that are completely from scratch in here, I just wish the whole book was this way.

The images here are lovely and they were enough to serve as inspiration for me to create my own recipes, but this is not a book that I would really recommend to any of my serious baker friends or readers.
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VINE VOICEon April 27, 2010
"The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but something else just as sweet happened in America that year- the first ice-cream parlor opened." What follows is a history of Ice Cream in America. Just an example of how interesting and thorough Southern Living editors are. I love their books! I do believe this one is a compilation of the best Southern desserts...with one exception...Tipsy Puddin'. Living in the South is a cultural and taste experience second to none. Church socials, family reunions, Sunday picnics ALL have DESSERT..you can count on sweet and memorable.

A few recipes include: Vanilla, Peach, and Unbelievable Chocolate Ice Creams, Granitas and Sherbets. Any pie you can think of, OF COURSE pecan...AND pecan pie cookies. Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches with Rum Raisin Filling, Lemon Bars, Macaroons, and the ULTIMATE Chocolate Chip Cookie. Cakes galore from Lane, Red Velvet, Hummingbird, Mississippi Mud, Texas Sheet, Cola Cake and Pound Cakes to die for...how about Buttered Rum Pound Cake With Bananas Foster Sauce? Caramel, Decadent Banana,Black Forest and last but NEVER least, Chocolate Turtle Cake. Coffee Cakes, Bread Puddings,and Cobblers too numerous to mention..but are they GOOD!

You can't miss with this cookbook. You will be the hit of the Charity Cake Auction, Sunday Church Social, or Family Reunion with any of the recipes on the 330 pages with loads of pictures sure to make you think about exercising just so you can have a serving! My Dad used to say "Life is uncertain, Eat Dessert First!"
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on August 22, 2014
I love to make desserts. I use Splenda instead of sugar due to diabetes. The recipes taste great and there are a lot of them in this book. It's a good book for anyone to try. Again as the other books I have ordered this came really fast..
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on June 2, 2011
I am really glad I bought this book. I prefer all of my cookbooks to feature a lot of pictures so that I have some idea of what the end result should look like. This book has GREAT pictures.

Another reviewer complained that there are too many recipes that call for boxed cake mixes and convenience items. It's true that there are a lot of recipes that call for these items, but there are also plenty of "from-scratch" recipes. I myself don't mind recipes that call for convenience items since I work long hours and have a small kitchen. It's nice to be able to pick up a limited number of ingredients. But if you don't like convenience items in your desserts, you will still find plenty of great recipes in this book.

There are a ton of bread pudding recipes in this book, too. I LOVE bread pudding, and there are several recipes in here that I can't wait to try. There are also a lot of layer cakes, which I tend not to make often because they are a bit more labor intensive, but I love them nonetheless. I am looking forward to baking a lot from this book! And even if I don't end up baking much, the book is worth it to stare at the pictures and imagine baking elaborate desserts that the average person doesn't have time to bake. :-]
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on March 22, 2015
this is the BEST cookbook for old fashioned caked cakes have found many favorites especially the Caramel Cake the Red velvet, the Banana Pound cake plus many more yet to make and for spring /summer the Strawberry layer cake is a must !!!!!!!!!!!!
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on September 30, 2010
This book has a nice variety of desserts. I have made the lemon poundcake, chocolate pudding, rice pudding and cream cheese poundcake twice (Yes! this needed an encore). Everything turned out perfect. I intend on trying alot more recipes from this book. It is now my favorite dessert book because of the easy instructions, simple ingredients and wonderful flavors.
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on August 14, 2013
I love this book. Today I made the Blueberry Cheese coffee cake and the Blackberry/Peach coffeecake. Substituted blueberrys for the Blackberrys. They both came out wonderful. One is a gift but the other one is for our house and it is delcious. Also have made the Lemon cupcakes. Yes they do use a cake mix but when you taste them you would never guess that. On the other hand the 4 Layer Lemon cake is to die for. So you really have a choice. Whether you want completely home made, or with a little help. I am going to buy several more of these for bridal shower gifts. I always give cookbooks and this will be the one for the newest brides in our family. Love this book! Can't say it enough.
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on January 17, 2014
Actually got this book at the library first and plan on buying one for me, my daughter, daughter in law, son's girl friend and any other woman friend who NEEDS this book. I have baked for years, and years, but this is by far the most comprehensive and beautiful cookbook of desserts I have ever seen and believe me I have read a lot of them!!!!! Just makes me happy to look at the pictures, but I can't wait to make many, many of them too.
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on February 4, 2013
When I visited my daughter at Christmas in St. Louis, she showed me her copy of Classic Southern Desserts that she was using to make her holiday desserts. We particularly enjoyed the Best Ever Banana Pudding offering. All the desserts were outstanding and I knew that when I returned home that I would have to order the cookbook. So glad that I did. I am making the Chocolate-Almond Petits Fours and the Blackberry Pudding Tarts for a Valentine's Tea.
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