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Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion Hardcover – October 26, 2010
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“Rachel Thebault . . . has reimagined the humble Oreo as an indulgence that is spectacular as an afternoon snack or as the end to an elegant meal.”—Food & Wine
“Thebault is on a mission to do for desserts what Coco Chanel did for the little black dress: re-create, reinvent, and pull it all together with exquisite details.”—Leite’s Culinaria
“I’m telling you, Sweet Chic is so inspiring. It will make you want to break free of tradition and bake things you’re excited about. You don’t have to stress yourself out to make something fabulous—you have all the tools you need right here. Hooray!”—Isaac Mizrahi, from the Foreword
About the Author
Rachel Schifter Thebault, founder of Tribeca Treats, spent seven years as an investment banker before transforming her hobby of making truffles for friends into a full-time career in confections. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, she opened Tribeca Treats in 2007. The bakery has won honors from American Express OPEN and entrepreneur organizations, and is a pillar of the Tribeca community. A sought-after speaker and panelist, she has also taught cooking and baking to children and adults. She currently lives in Tribeca with her husband and their two daughters.
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The cookbook opens with a text foreword from Isaac Mizrahi and introduction by Ms. Thebault. It then segues into some basics: ingredients to have on hand and quality, equipment, techniques, and storage information. For example, an excerpt of the dairy section in ingredients: "DAIRY Using a lower-fat version for any dairy ingredient will significantly alter the texture and consistency of your baked goods. Therefore, stuck with butter, whole milk, heavy cream, or other ingredients as directed." It then jumps right into your everyday and weekend wear: cookies. Scooped cookies, considered the white t-shirt, include basics such as chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin, and two more. Thumbprint cookies, considered the chunky cardigan, include peanut butter and chocolate thumbprints as well as two others. Vanilla cookies are likened to the crisp Oxford shirt and include three variants. This theme goes on with more cookies, brownies, graham crackers, cakes, cupcakes, pies, icings, ganaches, buttercream, chocolates, barks, truffles, and caramels.
I found it interesting how Ms. Thebault compares the different recipes and their variants to fashion and outfits. She "dressed up" her desserts with the variants just like you'd add a scarf to an outfit. (Well, I wouldn't, but then I'm notoriously fashion ignorant.) The ingredients are also not exotic, which was nice, because I had most of them on hand for when I whipped up a couple of the recipes to test them out.
I selected three recipes to try (Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vanilla Cookies, Fudgy Brownies). Each turned out very tasty and the brownies were quite visually appealing. This is a cookbook for a beginniner, so don't expect advanced recipes; however, it is a decent introduction to baking or even just a reference to whip up something simple for that party you forgot you were attending.
Thank you Ms. Thebault.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Sweet Chic by Rachel Schifter Thebault free from Ballantine Books through the FSB Media review program. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. The opinions I have expressed are my own and no one else's. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The book opens with an explanation of Rachel's philosophy of baking. In the same way that a woman uses a little black dress as the foundation of her wardrobe, using accessories to dress it up or down, so too can a baker take a basic recipe for the base of a dessert and use simple alterations to create a complete "wardrobe" of desserts for any occasion. Chocolate chip cookie dough becomes white chocolate coconut cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, snickerdoodles, or anything else a cook can dream up with a change in mix-ins. I used the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and substituted in chocolate chips, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and they came out perfect!
The book is divided into three sections: Cookies, Cakes, and Confections. Each chapter in the three sections feature a basic recipe to build on, with names such as "The Crisp Oxford Shirt," "The A-Line Skirt," and "The Leather Jacket." Following the basic recipe of each chapter are several more example recipes of how to alter the base recipe to fit your needs. Vanilla Cake becomes Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, and Basic Tempered Chocolate becomes Cranberry Almond Bark.
The detail that Rachel goes into is also quite impressive. The beginning of the book teaches the basics of baked goods by reviewing all of the major ingredients used in baking - things like eggs, cocoa powder, and extracts - as well as essential equipment used, like a cake turntable. She then goes into the basic techniques of baking, simplifying them for even the most amateur of novices, and provides a pictorial guide for icing a cake and dipping things in chocolate. Each recipe is provided with very specific details on how to perform each step, as well as ideas at the end on how to dress it up further.
I loved this cookbook, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in baking, from the amateur to the experienced baker.