Top critical review
22 people found this helpful
on February 27, 2013
I recently began cooking gluten-free, and Nicole's cookbooks were the first that came up when I searched for GF cookbooks. So far, I've made two recipes with mixed success.
While I waited for the book to arrive, I read her blog and was very impressed. I absolutely love to bake and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to recreate my favorites without wheat flour. Her beautiful photos and energetic language reassured me that she was someone else who loved good food, and wouldn't settle for lower standards just because it was gluten-free. I purchased a digital scale to measure ingredients by weight, as she recommended.
Reviews for her first cookbook mentioned that typos and incomplete instructions were an issue, so I decided to get her second cookbook in the hopes that those issues would have been addressed. Unfortunately, this cookbook is heavily focused on making your own mixes. Half the cookbook is devoted to that. I do not use mixes, and frankly, do not understand the appeal of shearing off a few minutes of prep by mixing together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt ahead of time. It only takes 2-5 minutes to do that, and if you make a mix of the dry ingredients ahead of time, you just end up washing bowls twice! I'd rather just buy a mix or make the whole thing from scratch, but again, that's just me.
I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and all the cookie recipes in this book were for a mix. I made the mix, immediately added the additional ingredients and baked them according to the recipe. The first batch was awful. The recipe calls for freezing the dough balls and then baking at 10 minutes @ 325. That's just not enough time for the partially frozen dough to cook through at such a low heat. They were still raw and looked like slightly melted ice cream cones. There are almost no pictures in the book, but I'm hoping this wasn't the result I should expect. Luckily, the recipe made three times as many cookies as it claimed, so I experimented with each batch making 5 in total. Cooking at a traditional 375, with the dough only getting a brief trip to the freezer worked. They still weren't very good cookies, though. By the way, I have an oven thermometer so temperature accuracy was not the problem.
I wish she would explain her techniques more thoroughly. I'm curious why she recommends freezing the dough, for example. I'm sure I'm missing something.
I made her brownies (also a mix) this past weekend. The recipe was very easy and the results were delicious! They were better than most of the regular brownies I've made. Hooray! I was so relieved. But...while they were great the first day, they became dry and fragile on day two.
Overall, I found this cookbook disappointing, and not worth the price. While I was excited to see some of my favorites, like english muffins, included, my results so far have not been encouraging. I also tried another chocolate chip cookie recipe from her blog, and those looked more like normal cookies, but were crispy instead of the chewiness advertised. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? Or maybe her standards are just lower than mine, after years of being gluten free.