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Well, I finally managed to get to the library and decided to give Gand's Short + Sweet a try because the subtitle is "Quick Desserts with Eight Ingredients or Less." Plus I liked the table of contents, which indicates that the recipes are grouped by times: 15-minute, 30-minute, and 45-minute desserts (plus another chapter about baking with kids), promising easy, fast week-night baking.
First Impressions: In the introductory chapters of Short + Sweet, Gand tells us that we need no special skills or fancy equipment to make the desserts in this book. She mentions that they can all be made in under an hour (and some more quickly), and so are perfect for those of us who like to bake, despite crazy busy lives. Gand also spends some time explaining techniques and providing tips on buying ingredients and stocking the pantry.
Delving Deeper: I was all set to get baking and began flipping through the cookbook to find something to try. Well, the first thing I noticed is that the times are working times. So the cornmeal walnut cookies I wanted to make from the 15-minute chapter actually required an hour of refrigeration, then some slicing, and then baking and cooling. So I moved on.
I next noticed that some of the recipes called for expensive ingredients that I probably wouldn't use for a quick, everyday family dessert. For example, when Mr. BFR and I feel like a little something sweet, I know I'm not going to be baking with saffron, lavender, or special extra-dark cocoa that has to mail-ordered. Instead, I'll turn to more common ingredients, like fruit, oats, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Finally, I think I should have paid more attention to the cover photo. While the recipes are, indeed, easy to make, I think they're are too fussy to be considered short and sweet. I would never make chocolate tarts for a family dessert. Call me lazy, call me not a real cook, but after working all day, I'm more of a brownie or fruit crisp kind of woman. Even the cooking with kids chapter was a little over-the-top. For example, see the scan of the pinwheel cookies. These are so pretty and fun, but the skills are way beyond most children (the cookies require tricky cutting, decorating, and assembly).
Final Thoughts: Unfortunately, I ended up returning Short + Sweet without making a single recipe. The tarts, cookies, cakes, ice cream, scones, and more look delicious, and the recipe directions are straightforward and clear. But truly I thought these desserts were more for special occasions or company than they were for an ordinary after-school or week-night treat.
I may borrow Gale Gand's Short + Sweet from the library another time, when I'm looking for something easy but impressive for a holiday, birthday, or other celebration. I think my expectations and the actual contents were a mismatch, and I was disappointed. On the other hand, I think it's only fair to give the cookbook another chance; next time we have company, I may borrow it again.
Note: The scan comes from Gale Gand's Short + Sweet and is used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder, Tim Turner.
Published by Crown / Clarkson Potter, 2003
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)