Excellent New Baking Book Sweet!

By Kristin Donnelly Posted November 07, 2008

 I’m not a serious baker, but every so often, a new book comes out that makes me fantasize about becoming one. Two years ago, it was Heirloom Baking, a charming collection of community cookbook recipes updated by the Boston-based Brass sisters. Then it was Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, which became an office favorite for its over-the-top desserts that somehow managed to not be too sweet. Right now, I’m loving Mani Niall’s new Sweet!, a book that looks beyond white granulated sugar to brown cane sugars as well as plant-based sweeteners like agave and maple syrup. For his Mexican bread pudding, which has a rich, earthy sweetness, Niall adds panela, a dense, dark brown cane sugar that’s formed into cones and must be grated. To give shortbread cookies a deeper, rounder flavor, he adds maple sugar. Demerara, a moist, light brown sugar, adds a caramelly note to chocolate fudge. Niall even includes a few savory recipes, including roasted sweet potatoes glazed with sorghum, the South’s answer to the North’s maple syrup. In our upcoming January issue, we will be running his supereasy cranberry-orange scone recipe, which gets toffee-like notes from turbinado sugar—the crunchy crystals that come in those brown “Sugar in the Raw” packets.

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