Need inspiration in the baking department? This latest batch of cookbooks, from the founders of three NYC bakeries, may help. Plus, there's one local sweet shop’s homage to candy, just for fun.
Fat Witch Brownies: Brownies, Blondies and Bars from New York’s Legendary Fat Witch Bakery ($22.50, Rodale Books), by Patricia Helding. Even a novice baker will have success recreating this bakery’s popular treats; all 50 recipes can be made in the same 9” x 9” pan and most require fewer than 10 ingredients. The recipes are divided into chapters on classic, decadent, “grown-up kid stuff” and “delightfully different” treats — think cardamom bars and Earl Grey brownies.
Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion ($28, Ballantine Books), by Rachel Schifter Thebault. The founder of Tribeca Treats applies a fashion adage to baking: Stick with basics that you can dress up or dress down, depending on the occasion. A recipe for chocolate cake batter (“the little black dress”) becomes six different treats including rocky road cupcakes, sweet-and-salty cake and rich chocolate ganache cake.
Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented ($29.95, Stewart, Tabori & Chang), by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. In their second cookbook, these lauded Brooklyn bakers, owners of Red Hook’s “Baked” hit the road to chase down regional favorites made by moms and grandmas everywhere. Some they’ve doctored up, others they’ve left alone. It’s pure Americana — there’s even a recipe for Jell-O salad.
Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap Your Sweet Life ($35, Clarkson Potter), by Dylan Lauren. The book from the owner of the famous candy store is more home entertaining guide than cookbook, but devoted sweets lovers will find inspiration in Lauren’s tips for making celebrations from birthdays to New Years extra-special. The recipes and candy crafts sprinkled throughout the book are all fairly easy.