Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine Hardcover-spiral – Jun 26 2012
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"Desserts in Jars is equal parts beautiful, precious, creative, inspired, and irresistible. Every turn of the page unveils a new surprise, and the photography leaves you longing for every single delicious-looking recipe."—Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks "I love the idea of baking individual desserts in jars. Whether you serve them at parties or share them as gifts, the sweets in Shaina’s book are a beautiful collection of recipes sure to bring joy to anyone—including yourself."
—Angie Dudley, Bakerella.com, author of Cake Pops"Shaina has written a gorgeous book, at once playful, sophisticated, and delicious! The recipes are delightful, and serving them in jars is a lot of fun." —Zoë François, co-author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
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Normally, when I review a cookbook I will have already tried at least 3 recipes so I can make a more informed report. But because I need to keep my insulin quiescent for a few more weeks, I will come back and provide an update. (Update 8/29/2012: please see end of review.) And when I do, here will be the first recipes I'll consider:
* Peanut Butter Cup Cakes
* Pull-apart Cinnamon Breads
* Peach Bourbon Pies
* Lemon-Blueberry Bread Puddings
* Sweet Corn Panna Cotta (It's got a bacon & blueberry topping)
* Banana Buttermilk Trifles
* Frozen Mudslide Pies
* Apple Pancake Puffs
* Campfire Bars Mix (a super attractive mix-in-a-jar for gift-giving)
Every recipe has its own photograph and specifies which size of jar is needed (but this critical information is imbedded deep within each set of instructions). Ms. Omanson provides a helpful introduction to baking with jars, including online sources for jar manufacturers. She even gives tips, such as aging egg whites for better French macarons. Most recipes are short, but a couple are longer and more involved (for example: the Pains au Chocolat). Also worth knowing is that many of the recipes require more than just the jar for cooking; you should anticipate using cupcake tins, baking pans, and cookie sheets.
** Unless you are an avid canner, you'll most likely need to invest in a few sets of jars. Some recipes require up to 24 4-ounce jars, up to 14 8-ounce jars, and some use wide-mouth and/or tall variants of each. A few recipes alternatively use up to 18 6-ounce jars. All but one of the mix-in-a-jar assemblies require larger jars (1-quart). Fortunately, canning jars are inexpensive and easy to find in most grocery stores. More problematic might be storage for the extensive collections. Here are some links for jars on Amazon: Ball Canning Regular Mouth Half Pint Canning Jar 8 oz. 12-Count, Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni 8 1/2 Ounce Canning Jar, Set of 12, and Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz., Case of 12.
My only ONLY issue with this book is that for some of the recipes, you have to read the instructions very carefully in order to determine serving counts and sizes. And none of the recipes indicate clearly under the ingredients which SIZE of jar will be required.
I'll be back with updates. In the meantime, it's all meat and Romaine for me. Hmmm, now how nice would a salad look in a jar?
Update 8/29/2012: I made the Peanut Butter Cup Cakes for a club meeting and they got rave reviews, despite a couple of issues I had. Plus, people were able to bring some home very easily because of the screw-on lids. Issues: The recipe did not specify wide-mouth jars (8 oz), and I bought the taller and narrower common jam jar. Big logistical mistake!! Getting the batter into each jar was messy and I had to clean & re-clean them, the counters, the floor, my shirt, etc frequently. But most important, the cupcakes did NOT test in the 18-20 minutes specified; I had to add 8 minutes, and I think this is due to using the taller/narrower jars. And getting the chocolate topping to melt on them was further mess, but I highly recommend Ghirardelli Chocolate 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar , 4 oz.. Ghirardelli marks their 4-ounce bars into 8 squares, perfectly suited for this recipe. You will need 1.5 bars. The finished cupcakes have great flavor, and they are not super sweet. My peanut butter balls sank to the bottom of each jar since it took so darn long to prepare each jar, but this might not happen next time when I opt for the wider/shorter jars. Recommended, if you don't mind a bit of extra work in preparation.
Update 10/2012: I used the section "How To Create Your Own Layered Desserts" on page 65 as an inspiration for my own "Deconstructed Whoopie Pies In A Jar". I used my mother's old recipe, tore the cookie parts into bits, thinned the cream filling with just a little heavy cream, and layered it all. Nice, clean way to eat Whoopies without getting cream filling all over my fingers.
Shaina has proved she's truly a master at recipe developing. You'd think with 50 recipes, there'd be some overlap or repetition, but there isn't. From the Indian Rice Pudding to the pains au chocolat, I am set for dinner party desserts from now on.
The photography is stunning, and speaking of those pains au chocolate - the photo of those literally had me imagining the crisp flaky texture of the pastry and the bittersweet surprise of chocolate. I am impressed!
In Desserts in Jars, the Cakes and Cupcakes area has several scrumptious recipes, including a ribbon adorned tres leches cakes, which are sponge cakes soaked in three milks and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Pies seem so well suited to jars, and my favorites always have the tiny lattice top crust, which looks so perfectly adorable. Custards and puddings are either baked in the jars or spooned into them after being cooked and make an easy to eat treat, whether it's Indian Rice Pudding or Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme.
Seasonal fruit can be made into crisps, crumbles, cobblers and more. I had to try the trifle though, which has Banana Buttermilk Cake layered with banana pudding, sliced bananas and topped with whipped cream. It was a perfect summer dessert that certainly did not disappoint and it looked gorgeous in the glass jars!
The frozen dessert chapter includes chilly treats like ice cream cakes, frozen pies and granitas. But the recipe I had to try was the "Fried" Ice Cream, which didn't require frying at all. For this yummy concoction, I just had to press the cornflake topping in the bottom of the jar, add ice cream, and while it firmed up in the freezer, I made the honey caramel sauce (yum!) which went on top with a bit more of the topping. Mmmm, heavenly! And easy, too.
The last section in Desserts in Jars has ideas for gifts mixes, which I really enjoy making for holiday presents. I love how pretty the ingredients look layered in the jars and how the reusable jar becomes an extra gift, too.
Desserts in Jars is full of a wide range of recipes and beautiful photos. The photography in this book is stunning and the recipes are well written with easy to follow instructions. So far, my favorite recipe I've tried is the Tres Leches cake. From the presentation down to the flavor, this was one recipe I'll be returning to time and time again.
If you are looking for a cookbook full of fun ideas, delicious recipes and beautiful photography, you won't be disappointed with Desserts in Jars.