07 November 2015

Weekend Cooking: Gale Gand's Short + Sweet

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review of Gale Gand's Short + SweetA while back one of you (I can't remember who) wrote a Weekend Cooking post that mentioned or was about Gale Gand, an award-winning pastry chef, cookbook author, and television star. After reading that post, I made a mental note to check out Gand's cookbooks

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
ISBN-13: 9780307985026
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 11/7/15, 6:34 AM  

I love Gale Gands. She has a lot of cookbooks, and some have simpler stuff.

Tina 11/7/15, 7:03 AM  

I'm more of s brownie & fruit crisp person too. Usually if I want to put some time into cooking it involves a dinner, not sweets.

Looks like a pretty book to browse though.

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/7/15, 8:50 AM  

The cover photo is lovely, but it doesn't sound like Short + Sweet is a very accurate title.

bermudaonion 11/7/15, 9:10 AM  

It sounds like this has some terrific ideas for holiday desserts.

JoAnn 11/7/15, 9:58 AM  

I'm not really much of a baker, so this is probably too fussy for me, too.

Katherine P 11/7/15, 10:41 AM  

These look fun but the expensive ingredients would probably stop me. While I do have dark chocolate cocoa powder(though probably not dark enough since mine is the Hershey's version) I don't normally keep lavender or saffron on hand. I think I'll stick to simpler cakes and cookies myself. Great review!

Claudia 11/7/15, 1:06 PM  

It's funny, we have a fairly new cafe bakery here called Short 'n Sweet, with the best cakes, pastries, breads ever, as well as great deli sandwiches. Maybe they read the book? :)

Tea 11/7/15, 2:46 PM  

I like the idea of eight ingredients or less. I've never heard of cornmeal cookies. I love, love the taste and smell of vanilla.

Debbie 11/7/15, 2:52 PM  

I have to agree with you---they look pretty fancy for everyday.

Esme 11/7/15, 5:07 PM  

I agree chocolate tarts are not a quick and easy dessert. maybe another day when you have time to spend in the kitchen.

Create With Joy 11/7/15, 6:20 PM  

Sorry the cookbook didn't work out for you - the cover photo sure is lovely!
Thanks for hosting - have a lovely week - I am in the midst of hosting a month of FABULOUS giveaways, including the COOKBOOK giveaway I shared with you this week! :-)

Margot 11/8/15, 12:47 AM  

Sorry this book didn't deliver as promised in the title. Our library has several of her books on the shelves. The only one I've flipped through is the brunch one. It's not bad.

Megan 11/9/15, 7:52 AM  

What a bummer. When I first started reading this post, I thought this sounded like a good cookbook for me, but I see it's not. There often seems to be a disconnect between what I think of as quick and easy and what cookbook writers think of as quick and easy. Sounds like this is another case of that, despite the delectable looking desserts.

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