In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Sweet & Simple, Dessert for Two

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Mar 3, 2017 9:00 AM
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Sweet & Simple, Dessert for Two, by Christina Lane.  Copyright © 2017 by Christina Lane.  Published by The Countryman Press, a division of W. W. Norton & Company.

 Our Summary:

Christina Lane is far different from your average blogger-turned-cookbook author.  She's a mom, a media darling (QVC and The Today Show, to name a few), and she has an insatiable sweet tooth.  She instantly wins your trust with her idea that sweet treats need only be baked to serve two (even if they are 2 generous helpings), and you already probably have the hardware on hand to do it - no need for the large sturdy stand-mixer, a hand held beater works just fine!  Cleverly organized by pan-size, it may take you longer to decide what you want to bake than it does to actually make it.

What you need to know:

Get it:  Sweet & Simple, Dessert for Two, by Christina Lane.  Copyright © 2017 by Christina Lane.  Published by The Countryman Press, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, February 7, 2017 Hardcover $27.95 (Amazon $16.25; Kindle $14.16)

See it:  224 pages with in-process and finished color photos of each recipe

Make it:  84 recipes, plus icing, crumble and glaze recipes as components.  The book concludes with a one-page guide for where to use your leftover egg whites and yolks. To hear more about our community's experiences with recipes from this cookbook, please tune in to Now That's a Mouthful - WITF's food and cooking podcast.

Our Review:

In the world of food-blogger-turned-cookbook-author, there are plenty of books that disappoint.  Not so with Christina Lane's latest Sweet & Simple: Desserts for Two.  Her third book coming out of her popular food blog, Desserts for Two, Lane once again is at work serving up tempting and diverse desserts that can be made in any home kitchen.  She uses - and cleverly organizes her book around - baking pans and tools most every home kitchen is stocked with.  And, if you don't already have the mini baking sheets, loaf and cake pans, muffin tins or ramekins she's cooking with, a quick trip to your local home goods discount store will satisfy a need for retail therapy, just as Lane satisfies your desire for dessert!

The range and diverse options for her small-batch desserts in Sweet & Simple are what you'll notice first.  Cakes, cookies, tarts and pies, bars, puddings, cobblers, and cupcakes.  Lane adds a healthy spin on some of her recipes because, as she says, her daughter is of the age that wants what Mom and Dad are eating, including desserts.  Smart, though it may only lessen your guilt:  sugar is still sugar, she says, some forms are just more natural.

After that, Lane just makes it easy.  Tough recipes by anyone's account are made simple enough to tackle any afternoon or evening.  Classic desserts like Easy Baked Alaska (no, really!), Coconut Panna Cotta, or Secret Ingredient Chocolate Mousse are all presented in ways that anyone can successfully navigate.  Tips and tricks are spelled out in her headnotes (so be sure to read them), and without much more fuss you microwave, blend, stir and bake or chill.  For anyone daunted by the prospect of baking, Sweet & Simple is exactly what it says.  And though it's disappointing not to have prep and bake times listed out for you, these recipes are short.  A quick scan gives you an idea of home much time you need to commit.  The better news is that you can tackle longer recipes over the course of a day or two, with Lane's suggestions on how to properly store or rewarm the goods. 

Over and again you'll be thrilled that dessert is as easy as opening this book.  Mini Chocolate Pound Cakes with Raspberry Sauce serves 4 and looks doable in about 30 minutes.  One-Bowl Lemon Cupcakes & Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting makes 4 cupcakes, but in Sweet & Simple, Lane makes it as easy as using a boxed mix, only you don't have to go to the grocery store.  You probably have everything you need on hand. 

Sweet & Simple offers up a few elegant gourmet options, too, with Berry-Misu, Earl Grey Crème Brulee, or Eggnog Bread Pudding.  So, if a friend (or two) is coming around - for whatever the reason - a nice little sweet bite of deliciousness comes out of your kitchen without much effort.  You'll feel like you can do it all, and you can.  With Sweet & Simple in your cookbook line up, you're going to be everyone's favorite baker!

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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