What a divine little book to wreak havoc with carb-counters! Shaina Olmanson's Desserts In Jars is indeed a sweet way to tease your insulin back to life and remind you of that pancreas you learned about in high school.
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.