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BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts Hardcover – August 15, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Few recipe writers are as precise as Stella Parks, a former pastry chef whose instructions always fill me with a sense of clearheaded confidence.”
- Tejal Rao, New York Times Magazine
“One of the most engaging baking books to be published in years… Parks adds a remarkable new voice to the world of baking books. Combine smarts with whimsy and you get delicious results.”
- Washington Post
“As if it’s not impressive enough that Stella Parks whips up her own Twinkies and animal crackers, Snickers and sprinkles, she can also tell us who invented them, when, why and how.”
- Food & Wine
“Parks uses [food science] to give people new tools to become better bakers, a better understanding of baking, and an emphatic reminder of why every one loved these cookies, cakes, and other sweets in the first place.”
“Lushly illustrated recipes. . . Parks is a serious cook, interested in the history of how those desserts became iconic, and one who applies her serious culinary education to what others might consider frivolous ends.”
- The Atlantic
“Wonderful fun to read. A coveted gift for anyone whose ears prick up at the jingle of an ice cream truck.”
- Bon Appétit
“Astonishing. . . . A deep dive into sweet, sweet Americana―from Boston cream pie to that southeastern beach staple, key lime pie, to the best carrot cake I’ve tried. Ever wondered how to make your own Heath-like chocolate toffee or even a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Parks has you covered.”
- Mother Jones
“Intelligent, engaging, inquiring, instructive, and joyous: as befits its subtitle, this is destined, deservedly, to become a truly iconic book.”
- Nigella Lawson, chef and author of How to Be a Domestic Goddess and Simply Nigella
“A smart no-nonsense education in baking with a good measure of attitude, loads of encouragement, and plenty of details to ensure success.”
- Alice Medrich, author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies
“[Bravetart] will join the ranks of the timeless and transformative. Stella Park’s knowledge is formidable and her baked goods are brilliant, exactly the type of things we crave.”
- Southern Living
About the Author
Stella Parks is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a James Beard Award nominated writer for Serious Eats. She was named one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs by Food & Wine. When not at home in Lexington, Kentucky, Stella can be found at the Serious Eats test kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.
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The chapters are:
* Classic American Desserts: 1. Cookies & Candy, 2. Cakes, 3. Pies, and 4. Doughnuts
* Classic American Brands: 5. Cookies & Snacks, 6. Puddings, 7. Breakfast Treats, and 8. Candies & Candy Bars
* Classic American Ice Cream: 9. Scoops & Fountain Specials
1) Homemade Oreos with Homemade Cream Filling – p 212&215. Haha! They are spot on, and were a lot easier to make than I expected. Nice bonus – environmentalist friends will be thrilled that there’s no palm oil in sight. Here’s the embossed rolling pin, if you want yours to be fancy looking, too. PAISLEY rolling pin. Engraved rolling pin with paisley for embossed cookies. Embossing rolling pin.
2) Homemade Pop-Tarts – p 274. Yum! They’re not supposed to be blue, but my little one asked, and kids are cute, so…. These have to cool after you bake them, and the icing has to set for 12 hours after, so these need a little pre-planning. These are a little more effort-y than the Oreos, but they are beyond worth it. I’m shocked by how much fruit is actually crammed in these. Niiice. I purchased sprinkles, but she has a recipe for those, too, if you’re feeling it.
3) Peanut Butter Cups – p 299. Tempering the chocolate takes a little patience waiting for the chocolate to hit the exact temps, but these were easy and the kids were thrilled.
4) Red Wine Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - p 130 & 132. *That* is an amazing cake! Outstanding flavor and not terribly sweet. There's no artificial coloring in it, just dark zinfandel and raw cocoa powder.
5) Double Vanilla Ice Cream – p 334 with Cookie Dough Nuggets – p 346. I did the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough variation. Divine. The vanilla flavor is nice and strong and the ice cream's texture is perfectly creamy.
Some others I have flagged to try: Chocolate Covered S’mores – p 63 * Souffleed Cheesecake – p 80 * Buttermilk Biscuits with Strawberries and Cream – p 86 * Pineapple Cutout Cake – p 93 * Lemon Meringue Pie with Marshmallow Meringue – p 153 * Fried Cake Donettes – p 186 * Homemade Thin Mints – p 228 * Homemade Twinkies – p 244 * Homemade 3 Musketeers – p 304 * Homemade Snickers – p 308 * Homemade Cracker Jack – p 311
I’ll update this as I play in the book more.
I was very excited for this book, and it doesn't disappoint. It's equal parts history and cooking. The historical interludes that introduce each recipe are well-researched, complete with end notes citing to extensive sources. I've never read a cookbook that had a bibliography like this. For example, learning why a graham cracker is called a graham cracker (and why it could be considered a total diss on its namesake, Sylvester Graham), and then baking some delicious and far-better-than-retail graham crackers at home is just great fun. Even better, each recipe has a number of easy variations. Many, if not most, of the recipes also have gluten free versions.
Stella deserves a lot of credit, I think, for going the route of celebrating our national heritage of uniquely American deserts and giving them the treatment that they deserve. Kudos. This will be my go-to baking book for the foreseeable future, and it should be yours too.
So far, I've made the Chocolate Cream Pie. Stella won me over with this recipe alone. She suggested topping the pie with meringue, as this was both more traditional and a better compliment to the filling than the whipped cream topping we are used to. Chocolate Meringue pie happens to be my husband's absolute favorite. Her chocolate filling was rich with egg yolks, and included both chocolate and cocoa powder for a chocolately one-two punch. I had made a chocolate filling like this once before, by cobbling together a couple recipes, but had never been able to quite replicate it. This was my first foray into a cooked meringue. Stella made it easy with her clear instructions. The meringue was fluffy and made my house smell like toasted marshmallows when baking. I love how this meringue does not weep. I did have some issues with the pie crust. It came together easily, but my kitchen was a little on the warm side which made rolling the dough a bit tricky. The crust shrunk a bit too. I think this was mostly user error, so I'll try again and update. Next time I'll chill the dough before rolling if my kitchen is warm, and be more generous with the flour.
Some folks pointed out that her measurements are in ounces instead of grams. I agree with this critique. My scale is sensitive to single grams, but only to 1/8th of an ounce (nearly 4 grams!).