I'll admit that I starting off judging this book by its cover. Not that Sweet doesn't have a nice cover; as you can see above, it's very enticing. But when my review copy arrived in the mail several weeks ago, I just assumed this was another average sweets/baking cookbook, and while I do bake on occasion, it's really not where my passion lies.
So with nary a glance beneath its cover, I dropped it on a stack with a bunch of other 'meh' books — which was a really dumb move because when I finally got around to giving Sweet some more time, I quickly discovered that this is an excellent (really excellent) cookbook. And now it is living where it belongs: wide open on my kitchen counter, just in time for holiday baking and gift giving.
• Who wrote it: Valerie Gordon
• Who published it: Artisan
• Number of recipes: 115
• Recipes for right now: The Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake; Fruitcakes Blanc and Noir; Hazelnut Cake; Ginger Petit Fours; Quince and Pear Pie; Winter Luxury Pumpkin Pie; Peppermint Bark; Single-Malt Chocolate Truffles; Matcha Pot de Creme; Salted Peanut Blondies; Kumquat Marmalade; Tangerine Sour Cream Pound Cake.
• Other highlights: Angelenos won't need an introduction to Valerie Gordon or Sweets as she is already famous in LA for her delicious baked goods, confections, and sweet treats. The rest of us can find out more about Valerie and her many delicious projects in the book's introduction, where we also are given information on ingredients and equipment.
The rest of book is divided into eight sections: Pedestal (celebration desserts); Plate (everyday cakes); Tin (pies and tarts); Box (chocolates and confections); Bowl (desserts to eat with a spoon); Jar (cookies and bars); Larder (jams and marmalades); and Hand (breakfast and snacks to eat on the go). There's just so much here that I want to make right away or to include in my list of edible gifts for the coming holidays. The list above is only a beginning. Consider also Tiramisu Trifle, Jasmine Panna Cotta, and Marsh Grapefruit and Early Grey Marmalade. Or how about Chocolate Granola, Butternut Squash Bread, or Pumpkin Seed Toffee?
A small complaint: I'm not a fan of the white lettering on dark background style used in the introduction to each section as it's hard to read, especially for older people. Thankfully, the recipes are clearly printed in the traditional black on white and most are accompanied by beautiful color photographs by one of my favorite food photography teams, Peden + Munk.
The book is well made, with a nice satin-smooth cover (no dust jacket). It ends with a resource list and an index. Scattered throughout are helpful hint boxes and other fun extras, including my favorite: a two-page spread with pictures of various layer cake flavors and fillings to help you mix and match the layer cake of your dreams.
• Who would enjoy this book? Do you love to bake? Do you love sweets? Are you planning on giving treats from your kitchen this holiday? Then check out this comprehensive, delicious, and inspiring cookbook!
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Sweet by Valerie Gordon
• Visit the author's website: Valerie Gordon
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image credits: Dana Velden)