Tag Archives: Sugary goodness

When Only Cupcakes Will Do, by Daisy James

16 May

30357657Format: e-ARC, 210 pages

Publisher: Carina

Published: August 4, 2016

ISBN: 9780008206833

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Back cover blurb: The delightfully heartwarming romantic comedy from Daisy James!

When life gives you lemons, make lemon drizzle cupcakes…

Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…

Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!

Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…

My review: A light, by-the-numbers romance which was okay but just didn’t grab me. I liked Lucie and the way she turned a couple of disasters into a new life for herself, but never felt her connection to either of the men in her life. I know I wasn’t meant to like Alex, but Ed kept sounding like he was talking down to her. For example, I’m sure that since she went to Le Cordon Bleu school as well she knew how to make a custard. I just didn’t feel their connection – it felt oddly stiff. But if I was lying on a beach somewhere, this book would be an okay way to escape. Like candyfloss, it was sweet but doesn’t have a lot of substance.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5

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Food52 Ice Cream and Friends, by the Editors of Food52

4 Apr

33843312Format: e-ARC, 176 pages

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

To Be Published: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 9780399578021

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Back cover blurb: A friendly collection of recipes, riffs, toppings, and serving ideas for ice creams of all styles.

In Ice Cream & Friends, the editors of Food52 unearth 60 recipes for everyday and special occasion frozen desserts—like coffee frozen custard, cinnamon roll ice cream, and grilled watermelon cremolada—and put their own spin on enduring favorites: spiced fudgesicles, cherry-mint snow cones, even a modern baked Alaska. There are also tips and tricks for reviving melted ice cream, getting even creamier scoops, and spiffing up the store-bought stuff, as well as homemade versions of cones, mochi, sprinkles, Magic Shell, and more.

My review: My daughter and I love making homemade no-churn ice cream, so this book was perfect to give us a few new flavour suggestions. As well as some old favourites, the editors of the Food52 blog have come up with some unusual combinations, including black pepper and feta or butternut squash and tahini ice creams, and tomato, peach and basil sorbet. I think we’ll definitely be trying the carrot cake ice cream, yummy baked alaskas, chocolate tacos, and the Brooklyn Blackout Semifreddo Cake, and will attempt to make our own Magic Shell, cones and sprinkles from their recipes. There’s even a genius tip for curing brain freeze, which will certainly come in handy!

The photographs are gorgeous and make your mouth water, and the instructions are clear and written in a chatty manner. I’m now keen to check out the authors’ other cookbooks and blog.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

4cupcakes

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Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes, by Jami Curl

28 Mar

30780245Format: e-ARC, 288 pages

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Published: 14 March, 2017

ISBN: 9780399578397

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Back cover blurb: This game-changing candy cookbook from the owner of Quin, a popular Portland-based candy company, offers more than 200 achievable recipes using real, natural ingredients for everything from flavor-packed fruit lollipops to light-as-air marshmallows.

Jami Curl, candy-maker extraordinaire and owner of the candy company Quin has been called the “new Willy Wonka” by Bon Appetit. Her debut book, This is Candy, includes the recipes that have made Quin a favorite with local and national media, foodies, chefs, and bloggers. But This is Candy is not just a candy book. Instead, Jami’s approach to candy forms the foundation for a world of other confections–from bacon glazed with maple and black pepper caramel to a clever Chocolate Magic Dust that can be turned into chocolate pudding, chocolate sauce, and even a chocolate lollipop. Packed with more than 200 recipes for totally original confections like Whole Roasted Strawberry Lollipops, Bergamot Caramels, Fig & Coffee Gumdrops, and Pinot Noir cotton candy, as well as serious tips and advice for making amazing candy at home.

My review: I never thought I would be bored by a book about sweets but, sadly, I was. This wasn’t the cookbook I was expecting. Instead, the first quarter is a comprehensive technical explanation of the methodology and equipment needed for candy making, and then there are a series of recipes for infusions and flavoured sugars before we get to any real recipes. Even then, these all seem to be very similar variations on a theme, covering lollipops, marshmallow, gum drops and caramels. The same flavours are repeated for each type of sweet. I really would have liked a bit more variation and something a bit more “out there.”

Maybe there weren’t enough photos. I found the hand drawings a bit amateurish. The rabbit cake was certainly underwhelming. I know I didn’t need several pages devoted to making cinnamon sugar or how to put together cocoa powder and sugar to make a hot chocolate mix.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5

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Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes, by Tessa Huff

3 Mar

26240710Format: e-ARC, 288 pages

Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang

To Be Published: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 9781617691881

Genre: Cooking, Food and Wine

Back cover blurb: It’s time to venture beyond vanilla and chocolate and take your baking skills up a notch. We’re talking layers—two, three, four, or more!

Create sky-high, bakery-quality treats at home with Tessa Huff’s 150 innovative recipes, which combine new and exciting flavors of cake, fillings, and frostings—everything from pink peppercorn cherry to bourbon butterscotch, and pumpkin vanilla chai to riesling rhubarb and raspberry chocolate stout. Including contemporary baking methods and industry tips and tricks, Layered covers every decorating technique you’ll ever need with simple instructions and gorgeous step-by-step photos that speak to bakers of every skill level—and to anyone who wants to transform dessert into layer upon layer of edible art.

My review: It’s clear Tessa Huff is a food stylist and photographer as well as a pastry chef and blogger, because the photographs in this book are glorious. Not only do we get to see the sky-high creations with all their pretty icing and decorations, but there are also separate photos of each cake sliced up, giving us a glorious view of the magnificently layered interiors. If it were possible to gain weight by just looking at cakes, I would have gained at least five kilos reading his book!

Huff begins by outlining the basics: ingredients, tools, basic methods and tips for optimum results. Written for a North American audience, some of the brand names and shops referenced were not familiar to me, but I appreciated the thoroughness with which the author covered these topics. She even gives instructions on how to make homemade sprinkles.

Then came the cakes. Oh my! The flavour combinations were incredible, including fruits, teas, alcohol, and spices alongside the perennial favourites of chocolate, coffee, lemon, and vanilla. I’m definitely going to be trying her Lemon Supreme Cake, Rainbow Sprinkle Cake, Banoffee Tiramisu Cake, and Red Wine Blackberry Cake. Yum!

Making layered cakes is no easy feat – and I’m sure my efforts would look nowhere near as good as Huff’s – but the photographs alone make this book a worthy addition to your kitchen bookshelf. The author’s personal story and historical explanations for recipes are fun to read, and I guess my only qualm would be that very few of these recipes would be suitable for people with food allergies. They certainly weren’t any good for my diet!

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

5cupcakes

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No-Bake Honeycomb Crunchie Cheesecake!

13 Oct

Source: No-Bake Honeycomb Crunchie Cheesecake!

Jane’s Patisserie strikes again! Think I’m going to have to try this. Looks so yummy!

Nutella and Ferrero Rocher Fudge!

9 Jun

Yes, yes, yesssss… need this now!

Jane's Patisserie

Chocolate Hazlenut Nutella Fudge – So easy and simple to make, and so moreish – you will want to make it again and again!

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So the last time I posted a Fudge recipe I said I wouldn’t do one for a while… Well this is as long as I could last. Sorry!

This recipe is similar to my Triple Chocolate Cookies Fudge as the base of the fudge is Condensed Milk rather than Clotted Cream like all of my other recipes! I like this type of fudge as its basically a store cupboard fudge, other than a dab of butter, but I always have butter in the house!

I found the Carnation recipe for their easy chocolate fudge but I wanted to elevate it to a new level and involve something that will catch the eyes of people, and excite the tastebuds… the answer? NUTELLA. Always and forever, Nutella. Seriously, it…

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The Confectioner’s Tale, by Laura Madeleine

3 Jun

confectionerFormat: e-ARC, 336 pages

Publisher: Black Swan

Published: May 21, 2015

ISBN: 9781784160722

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Take a moment to savour an evocative, bittersweet love story that echoes through the decades – perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop.

My review: When I reached the end of this book, I couldn’t help but think that Jim Stevenson deserved his years of guilt and regret for what he did to Gui and Jeanne. The details of his misdeed form the basis of this fantastic debut novel, which tells the story of Gui and Jeanne’s love in Paris in 1910, alternating with investigations into the tale in 1988 by Stevenson’s granddaughter, Petra. Petra finds an old photo and a note expressing her journalist grandfather’s apologies, and must battle the clock and his nasty biographer to solve the mystery behind them. Her chapters alternate with the story of provincial Gui du Frere, who comes to Paris to work for the railway and ends up an apprentice pastry chef at the city’s top patisserie. He falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Jeanne Clermont, but their love is a huge scandal in those class-divided times.

I absolutely loved this story and was gripped by Petra’s search to uncover the truth. She loses a lot when she devotes herself to the search, but gains a love interest and there are a quite few laughs along the way. Gui’s story is heartbreaking and I’m not sure if Petra fully uncovers the horrifying details of Jim’s betrayal, as that chapter is told from Gui’s POV. The author describes the grimy backstreets of Paris in fetid detail, and captures the delicate confections of the patisserie with the knowledge of an expert baker. I was initially attracted to this book by the deliciously beautiful cover, and the content matched it perfectly. This is a great debut and I look forward to whatever Laura Madeleine writes next. Highly recommended.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

5cupcakes

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Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake!

14 May

As Jane says, Chocolate + orange + cake = YES! Definitely going to try this one 🙂

Jane's Patisserie

Chocolate & Orange Zest Bundt Cake with Orange Sugar Sand and a dash of Terry’s Chocolate Orange!

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I have put up a few bundt cake recipes in my time now, including a chocolate one, but something about Chocolate & Orange together is a marriage made in heaven. My recipe for my Chocolate Orange Cookies is amazingly popular, and is one my boyfriends absolute favourite cookies ever! After the success of the cookies I thought I would develop a Cake version that would be perfect for Afternoon Tea, or just a Cake for the week!

This cake has a delicious light and moist sponge even with the flavouring – using cocoa powder gives you the flavour of the chocolate without making the cake too dense, and the orange gives it a nice citrusy zing!

IMG_0589

I find that this recipe is easy to follow, and is totally worth it in the end!…

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Easter Fudge!

30 Mar

OMG, just look at this! Another one of Jane’s fabulous recipes I definitely need to try!

Jane's Patisserie

IMG_9004

This is essentially a super Chocolatey Fudgey mashup of easter sweets or just absolutely delicious chocolates. It is addictive to say the least! I have done many a fudge recipe now, so sorry if you’re bored of them (How dare you!) but I thought one more for a little while (this could be a lie) to set you up for Easter next weekend!

This recipe is based on my original sweetie recipe on my blog – White Chocolate Clotted Cream Fudge. I thought that as I had demonstrated an easier fudge recipe where there is no boiling and getting to ridiculous degrees of temperature with my Triple Chocolate Cookies Fudge, I should go back to where it all started and create a mashup of them all!

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The texture is delicious crumbly in a good fudgey way – its also a nice mix of white chocolate, and milk chocolate…

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Mug Meals, by Dina Cheney

30 Mar

mug meals

Format: e-book, 160 pages

Publisher: Taunton Press

To be published: March 31, 2015

ISBN: 9781627109161

Genre: Cooking, Food, and Wine

Back cover blurb: The secret to fast and easy meals cooked from scratch is hiding in plain sight in your kitchen. The microwave oven is not just for reheating leftovers and making popcorn anymore. With pantry ingredients, a mug and a microwave, you can create a meal in minutes that rivals those cooked in the oven or on the stovetop. Mug MEALS! is the perfect solution for new cooks, busy families, singles, college students, teens, seniors or anyone who just wants a hot meal without all the cleanup.

Make a meal for any time of day. Breakfast options include Lox and Bagel Strata, Double Berry French Toast; for lunch try Moroccan Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew, White Bean Gratin with Olives and Lemon or Double Carrot Soup. Dinner entrees include Chinese Chicken with Noodles and Black Bean Sauce, Classic Shepherd’s Pie and Lasagna; dessert selections feature Mango Coconut Crumble, Molten Chocolate Cake with Truffle Filling, Peach and Cornbread Stuffing and more.

My review: Meals you can make in a mug in the microwave are such a great idea for so many people, from students to people living alone, to those – like me – who often need inspiration for a quick and easy lunch. This book is crammed with a variety of ideas for all meals of the day, and I will definitely be trying some of them out. The recipes were clearly laid out and easy to follow, and the photographs made everything look divine. There is a handy equipment and pantry list, and for American readers a list of preferred brands for best results.

Some of the savoury recipes struck me as more of a reheating effort, consisting of things such as leftover cooked rice and meat which one wouldn’t necessarily have on hand or be bothered cooking in order to then transfer to a mug – if you’re going to that trouble you might as well cook something on the stove or in the oven. However, a lot of the sweeter ideas really appealed, and I will certainly be making the Nutella cake and some of the other desserts and muffins.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3.5/5

3halfcupcakes

 

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Writing for the Pop Culture Literate.

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