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Once I got past the Agave problem, it came out well
on July 17, 2011
Ok, so the first thing anyone who buys this book HAS to know, is that EVERY SINGLE RECIPE uses agave nectar instead of sugar, and that the book DOES NOT EXPLAIN HOW TO SUBSTITUTE regular sugar for the agave.
[*UPDATE* As several people have asked about this in the comments, I want to clarify that AGAVE NECTAR DOES NOT CONTAIN GLUTEN, and it was never my intention to claim that it does. My problem with it has to do with the fact that I don't normally use it or have it in the house, and that I understand it is quite controversial for other reasons. However, it is gluten free **End Update** ]
Frankly, this is pretty annoying, and it is particularly annoying because this was in no way made clear in the advertising for the book. There is one line in the blurb about the recipes "not containing any refined sugar", which is easy to miss and a little ambivalent. Other than that, it really isn't stated clearly anywhere. It really would have been nice if in the front cover, where it says "recipes with almond meal and coconut flour", it would have also said "and agave nectar", to make it clearer to the potential buyers. The recipes also, by the way, use grapeseed oil, but that really isn't a big deal considering that you can easily replace it with canola or vegetable oils or any other relatively flavorless oil.
Ok, so I got this book, realized that it was all agave and debated if to just return it outright to Amazon, since I have no intention of starting to regularly bake with agave. After consulting with some people, however, I decided to give it a try using regular sugar. It was suggested that I use a little bit more sugar than agave (because agave is sweeter) and that I add a bit more water to make up for the liquid of the agave, and a bit of lemon to make sure there is enough acidity in the recipe to allow the rising agents to work (as agave also has acidity in it). I ended up making a simple syrup using 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of water and a squeeze of lemon juice (cooked together until the sugar melts), and just used it in the same quantity as agave nectar. This worked out pretty well, although the recipes came out perhaps a little less moist and less sweet than I would have liked, so next time I will use extra simple syrup in the recipes.
Ok, so now that we resolved that problem, back to the book itself. The book is pretty, and offers both classic cupcakes and some pretty exciting original recipes, many of them quite mouth-watering and maybe just a little "sinful". Unlike most gluten free recipes that use multiple flour mixtures and many strange ingredients, most of these recipes are pretty straightforward and use only coconut flour or only almond meal. I was a little concerned about the coconut flour because it initally had a very dominant coconutty smell, but the cupcakes themselves did not actually taste like coconut at all (except for the coconut cupcakes). The recipes are simple and so far the results have been beautiful and delicious.
So, bottom line, if you are gluten free and want to cook with Agave, and you enjoy a cupcake, this is definitely the book for you.
If you don't want/like to use agave, be warned that all of the recipes in this book do use it, but if you are willing to try a workaround, then it may still be a good book for you, as the recipes are quite simple and interesting.