Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini

First off, Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini is a really attractive book. There are tons of photos, including process shots to help you along, and some that are just for the fun of it.

The book is divided into chapters based on the major component - so we have custards and creamy desserts; eggs and meringue; caramel; cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and muffins; cookies tea cakes and biscuits; tarts cobblers and crisps; yeast doughs, glazes frostings, fillings, and sauces, and a final chapter on building a balanced dessert.

The chapters make sense, but of course there are always recipes that could fit into more than one category. Caramel pudding is listed under caramel, since you have to actually make a caramel before it becomes pudding - but it's far from the other puddings listed under custards and creamy desserts. Meanwhile, pecan-caramel sticky buns are included with yeast doughs rather than along with the caramels.

That's not a criticism, though. Just an observation. The choices made when choosing categories made perfect sense to me. And of course, there's always the index. Look under "pudding" and caramel is listed right along with the rest.

What I really love about this book is that the recipes use common ingredients, and in fact, I could probably make more than half of them without a trip to the store since I keep a pretty well-stocked pantry. The things I might need to run out and buy are not uncommon - just not at hand at the moment. Like bananas, oranges, heavy cream, apples ... nothing too scary. I think the most unusual item in the book was lemongrass, and even that's not terribly hard to find.

I like to browse through cookbooks, find a recipe, and start cooking right away, and that's totally possible with this book.

Along with having easy ingredients, the recipes are clear, and photos help point the way.

But I'm not at all saying that this is a book that's just for beginners. Sure, beginners will love it, but there are also more complicated recipes, like kouign-amann, to challenge more experienced cooks.

Besides a whole lot of recipes for sweets (it's Sugar Rush, after all) there are a few savory recipes, like the zucchini and roasted corn muffins or the focaccia. But it's mostly sweets. So go stock up on sugar.

The one quibble I have with the book is that I couldn't find any reference to what the cover photo depicted. After some hunting, it seems that those are cream puffs dipped in a liquid caramel, which is one of the optional finishes for the cream puffs.

Note: I received this book from the publisher at no cost to me.

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