Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Sweet Cupcake - Janell Brown

Summary: Winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars, Janell Brown, gives expert advice on all aspects of cupcake baking, including ingredients, techniques, and equipment. You'll also learn the basics of cupcake decorating, along with ideas for themes, seasons, and holidays. Discover all these sweet secrets for making your cupcakes look professional and taste great. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

My Review:  When I got this cookbook I was really excited. I actually love cookbooks. Just opening one brings up so many possibilities. Plus I’m greedy. I do quite a bit of home cooking—I’m not really one of those people who serves things out of a box—and I like to bake. So I love when I get a cookbook that has really pretty things to bake and best of all, it’s something that I can actually tackle.

I’m not a novice baker by any means. I’ve watched my fair share of Food Network over the years, plus my husband and I are self-proclaimed foodies. I’m no Julia Childs, but I do have my fair share of cooking experience and I think that I can pretty much pull off any recipe with a little bit of practice. (Though most of the time I don’t practice because I live on the edge like that. And that doesn’t mean that it turns out perfect, just that I didn’t practice. Haha.)

So going into this cookbook, I was hoping that I would be able to tackle everything in it, and if I couldn’t, she would show me how or at least describe it in terms that would be easy enough for me to figure out.  And I was happily surprised that yes, I could do everything in the book with little to no trauma. There weren’t any huge surprises, but there were some fun little hints that I appreciated and helped me out.

I went into this little cupcake extravaganza project by deciding that I would do it just how she told me—especially with ingredients. I don’t feel like its fair for me to judge her recipes if I just used whatever I had on hand instead of what she recommended (i.e. normal cocoa in place of Dutch-processed cocoa). If I’m going to judge the recipe, then I need to judge her recipe. So I did. I have a pretty well-stocked pantry, but I did have to get a few things—vanilla bean paste, Dutch-processed cocoa (which was harder to find than I thought), and a few other things here and there when I was trying a more specific recipe. I also bought some new pastry bag tips that she recommended and I love them. It made my cupcakes look professional and although I did know how to frost a cupcake before this, her tips helped me out to put on a nice finishing touch.

I made a lot of different cupcakes from this cookbook, but I knew I couldn’t make them all, so I had a few baker friends try a couple recipes to let me know what they thought as well. I also gave quite a few cupcakes away and got opinions from those people as well.  We all agreed that the cupcakes were good—they’re denser than box cupcakes, and sometimes drier, and some of them called for applesauce instead of sugar. Alone the cupcakes were not nearly as sweet as a box-mix cupcake, but once you add her (fabulous, delicious) different types of frosting, you’re good to go.  Also, because these cupcakes are pretty complex (with a cupcake, filling, frosting, and sometimes various toppings), making them takes longer than a normal cupcake baking session may take (assuming you’re just whipping out the old Betty Crocker box mix and frosting tub) so plan accordingly. Also, the recipes say that the yield is 24 cupcakes. I never got that many cupcakes. Mine were mostly around 18 normal-sized cupcakes, which is fine, just be warned. It’s definitely a different experience than just buying a box and frosting the cupcakes, even if you make your own frosting. It takes longer, they taste a little different, and this is all to be expected if you want to make bakeshop-type cupcakes. But just as long as you know what your end goal is, you’re set.

On top of everything else, I thought the book was really pretty. The pictures are nice (and tantalizing, I must say), and it’s a really fun book to look through. I have it sitting on my recipe holder and a lot of my friends would pick it up and look through it just because it is eye catching and beautiful. Plus. Cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes?

My rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: Squeaky clean. But full of temptation.

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