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on March 25, 2011
I love to cook, and I read a LOT of cookbooks. I read them like other people read novels. And I read every book on confectionery that I can get my hands on (there aren't alot, and most of them are of the Junior League variety--wonderful recipes, sometimes, but not a lot of information).

So I was delighted when sugarbaby showed up in my Amazon recommendations, and ordered it right away. I was hoping for a modern take on confectionery, and I was sure from other reviews that the book would be pretty. It's both of those things, and the two recipes I've tried so far (the matcha pastry cream and marshmallow fondant) were get-in-the-bowl-and-walk-around delicious.

What I didn't expect was the author's voice. She's funny. Actually laugh-out-loud funny. And very, very real. Just wonderful. I'm ordering her other book right now, just because I want to spend some more time with this amazing woman.

If you like to read cookbooks, buy this book!
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on March 31, 2011
I've been toying with expanding my baking skills into the slightly scary realm of sugar work. I looked over A LOT of books before deciding on this one...and I am thrilled! Easy to read (and funny too!) Gesine makes the world of sugar easy to understand and far less daunting to attempt.

The first recipe I attempted was the dreaded and difficult to master Parisian Macaron. With this book in my hand (and the wonderful online video tutorial available the companion site [...] I knocked this recipe out of the park! Thanks Gesine!!

I would recommend this book to anyone really- it's great for the absolute beginner, and even seasoned cooks will get some fabulous new techniques and recipes out of it.
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on March 25, 2011
I love Gesine's books, they are well written, put together in a wonderfully funny manner. The companion videos are thoughtful and extremely down to earth. Shows that Gesine has a passion to truly share her knowledge and enjoys her craft. How could that not be infectious! I have now tried 7 of the recipes in the book, every one turned out just as it was meant too. There were no surprises. What you see is truly what you get. I am now looking forward to her next book "Pie it Forward".

I would whole heartedly recommend this book to any foodie. Your friends and family will think you are a culinary genious! This book should in all sincerity win many awards, it is that good!!!!
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on March 9, 2012
The book's narrative seems honest and thoughtful and the photography is very appealing. It gives you the impression that the author is "leveling" with you.I find that the Sources she recommends are very good although known by professionals and serious aficionados (Pastry Chef Central, Baristaproshop, nutsonline, flavorbank), unfortunately they are scattered throughout the book, so every time you want to recall a certain website address you have to skim the whole thing.

The approach is original but overly ambitious. The author attempts to go over all the stages of cooked sugar; and since that is no small task,some recipes had to suffer. There are some recipes in which she is very thorough (macarons is one of them, you can also check out her demo on Vimeo)and others in which you wish she had elaborate a good deal more, like the praline recipe. Her one paragraph instructions simply doesn't cut it. If you are interested in confections (candy, chocolate et.al.) you can check out the volume on confections by the Culinary Institute of America (from the "at Home" Series), there you'll learn the technique, and it doesn't take that much space, but it definitely takes longer than a couple of paragraphs. The gummies are another example of a recipe that lacks detail(she also mentions gelatine gummies in the text but only gives a recipe for pectin gummies), again you can find better instruction in the CIA's volume.

At some point the author mentions that listing a "number" of eggs as opposed to a weight in the ingredients list is very inaccurate (I believe there is no debate on that)but then she uses "number" on her recipes. One other thing is that the author mentions the Sugarbaby website for pictures of the candies not illustrated in the book (and more demos) but the illustrations there are not very different from what you can find in the book and I find that the website is very neglected, very few posts throughout the year.

In short, I have found inspiration for preparing many confections from this book, but the actual baking procedures I have found elsewhere. If you want good instruction in the art of "cooking with sugar" and do not care for the stories and photography this is not a book for you. And anyway, if you like stories and eye candy you can have plenty from her blog Confections of a Closet Master Baker, the recipes I have tried from the there are good and creative and many of the stories there are recycled stories from her books.

Some people recommend this book because you laugh out loud and get interesting stories (and you might laugh out loud by the coffee table) but if you want to laugh out loud you can buy a novel, not a cookbook. You want a cookbook to work, you will not be laughing out loud when the recipes fail to deliver (in the kitchen, where it matters).
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on October 14, 2011
The recipes in this book seem to be doable for the most part, but there are hardly any pictures! How are you supposed to know what you are making, and if it turned out right? Some of these things i had never heard of and I have no intention of taking all that time and effort to make something i have no idea what it will look like. I was very disappointed, will try a few more recipes and then pass it on to the next person. Very sad, because the cover is so beautiful i expected the rest of the book to be just as visually pleasing. :(
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on April 2, 2013
I really love Gesine's work, but there are a few things in this book that made me raise an eyebrow.
She mentions swapping out one invert sugar for another when in truth just because two substances are invert sugars doesn't mean they have the same make-up and therefore function the same way. It is corn syrup's make-up that aids in preventing crystallization.
Her choux recipe is puzzling. Never have I needed nor seen a recipe of that size for choux that could take ten eggs. Six is on the higher end for that amount of flour. I'm not surprised it failed a previous reviewer because I don't see how it could even work.
She refers to buttercream made with custard as French/American buttercream, when that is actually German buttercream, or mousseline buttercream. French buttercream is made with a pate a bombe, which is how mousses are often started. American buttercream is made with just butter/shortening and icing sugar or sometimes a syrup.
She also mentions that creme brûlée is made with whole eggs when creme brûlée is the richest in the custard family and should be made with all yolks, with a lone whole egg added sometimes for body.

So there are a lot of inaccuracies.

Also check out her recipe for candied peel. The editing for this book is terrible. She instructs you to bring syrup to a boil, then cook for 20-30 minutes to 200 degrees. If you brought syrup to a boil, it's already over 200 degrees! That's just a terrible bit of recipe-writing. Then you would add the peel and BOIL for 40 minutes. Do you know what you would get? A pot of burnt caramel.
It's too bad because the method she uses for candied peel is a favorite for making really tender, not too bitter peel, but other writers do a much better job of instructing.

On the positive side, you have Gesine's great flavor combinations, beautiful presentations, and she has a lot of useful tips and a lighthearted approach.
I also appreciate the classic recipes where now it can take a long time to find recipes for things like fudge that don't include marshmallows and other cheats.
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on June 21, 2011
I love this book. The recipes are so easy to follow once you get a few basic techniques down. I did go to culinary school and I cook professionally, but I think any advanced home cook could have great success with this cookbook. If you don't have a stand mixer and don't have plans to get one, don't bother buying this book. I have never gotten so much use out of my Kitchen Aid.
I definitely recommend this book to any serious cook who is looking to improve their sugar/pastry skills.
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on January 24, 2013
I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on my website. I am a highly experienced baker and have successfully made many of the confections in this book from other sources before receiving it. The images in this book are so beautiful and the author's writing so compelling, I instantly fell in love. I couldn't wait to try every recipe. But then I tried them...and experienced flop and after flop. Some recipes I even made multiple times to ensure that it wasn't my own mistakes responsible for the failures. Sadly I think this is a beautiful work with tons of potential that lacks in extensive recipe testing, and suffers for it.
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on August 18, 2013
Let me just start by saying that I bake all the time, I'm not new to cooking with sugar. I bought this book after looking over a copy of a friends'. I liked the author's voice, and her humor. The recipes are very clearly written and easy to understand, but are they correct? I've made three things out of this book and not one has turned out as creamy/smooth/delicious/sinful as the author makes them seem. From fat separating, to grainy texture, to so-so taste. Maybe the mistake is on me, but like I said before I've made other caramels and other things with sugar and they turned out great.
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on September 15, 2011
UPDATE:
If you have heard noises from Angry Birds, you might understand what I'm going to write. Yesterday I screamed like a winning bird - the only difference is that instead of killing those snorting pigs, I have decided to kill all other parisian macarons books that I have purchased in the past. I have achieved 100% SUCCESS RATE baking macarons using Gesine's recipe! No messy puddles, no sticky cookies, no collapsing tops, no fatty dots on the cookies, all beautiful ruffled feet, and successful separation of cookies from parchment paper. 100%. one. hundred. percent. I hear the angels sing.

When I started perusing this book, I felt I was listening to someone conversing with me teaching me step-by-careful-step cooking. Yes, cooking - there are only a couple items that were baked, the rest of the items in this book are cooked. Not only there are instructions on how to cook sugar correctly for variable stages, but there are also precautionary reminders what to expect when something goes wrong. If you like imagining having a very lovable relative cooking along with you, please get this book. However, if you think you are very independent and cook with hard rock music blaring in the background to drown all sounds, start looking for a different hobby and hunting for a confectionery.
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