Even just the cover of Jo McAuley's Brownies, Bars & Goodies Galore recipe book will have you salivating, because it showcases many of the delicious desserts and snacks that you will find inside. Jo is a food stylist and cookbook writer living in Lommoye in France, but the book has a very American feel to it, both in the types of recipes, the measurements (in cups - but there are detailed conversion charts at the end of the book) and also the ingredients lists, some of which call, for example, for Graham crackers (digestive biscuits), sponge toffee (honeycomb) and zucchini (courgette).
The book is divided into eight sections, beginning with an introduction, packed with helpful advice about the ingredients, equipment and techniques used in the recipes. On to the recipes themselves, which are categorised into “Brownies & Blondies”, “Bars, Fingers & Squares”, “Sheet Cakes”, “Muffins & Cupcakes” and “Other Small Goodies”. The final pages offer practical conversion charts, a glossary of American ingredients with their British counterparts and the index, by name but also key ingredients, which is very handy.
Many of the recipes are American classics, so you'll find Double Nut Brownies, Carrot Cupcakes and Peanut Butter & Chocolate Muffins. But the book also takes you on a quick Sweet Treats Tour of the World, showing you how to make French Madeleines, Greek Ravanie, Baklava-style Tartlets or Australian Lamingtons (which are pink and made the girls squeal in delight when they saw the recipe !).
Recipes that leaped out at me as I flicked through the book are Cherry Cheesecake Brownies, Frosted Black Forest Brownies, Mango & White Chocolate Blondies (I'd never heard of Blondies but they are a pale version of Brownies using white instead of milk or dark chocolate - genius ! Can't wait to try those !), Toffee Apple Bars, Banana Toffee Sheet Cake and Peach Strudel Fingers. The girls are also now begging me to make Raspberry Jam Sandwich Fingers, Chocolate Pretzels and Chocolatey Pyramid Slices (which are a no-bake cake so they could even make them “all by themselves” with just some supervision from me). There are also some healthy options, such as the Sugar-Free Peachy Breakfast Bars, Sunflower & Pumpkin Power Bars and a more natural version of Red Velvet Cupcakes using beetroot instead of vast amounts of red food dye to colour them.
The family-friendly recipes in the book are more designed for home-baked treats that the kids will love or tray bakes perfect for school cake sales than impressive-looking dinner party desserts that take hours to make so it's certainly a book that will get a lot of use in our house. Many of the recipes can be thrown together using store cupboard basics and the recipes are simple to follow, often taking very little time to make.
The photography is stunning but it's a shame that many of the recipes don't have pictures to illustrate them, as I always like to have a model to show what I'm aiming for. I'll be back, showing off our handiwork, as we try out some of the recipes in the book so watch this space !
Star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99
Size: 230 x 190 x 20 mm
Published: 4th October 2010
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