Customer Reviews for

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

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  • Posted October 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Baked to the future

    In their second cookbook "Baked: Explorations," Matt and Renato focus on comfort foods rather than innovation; there's a much more retro feel in the photography and recipe selection, one that pays tribute to grandma's kitchen and heirloom recipes in general. That's not to say that you won't find any surprising combinations in here; there's always the chocolate salt-'n'-pepper sandwich cookies, tomato soup cupcakes with mascarpone frosting, or rosemary apricot squares. Breakfast features monkey bubble bread, farm stand buttermilk doughnuts, baked cheese grits, and the sinfully decadent double-chocolate loaf with peanut butter cream cheese spread (imagine biting into a Reese's for breakfast, and you've got the general idea, although this is gussied up with Valhrona cocoa powder and Ghirardelli bittersweet chips). I found that the included amount of sugar for the peanut butter cream cheese spread was a tad too much for me (1/3 cup for 5 oz. cream cheese), so you may want to start with ¼ cup of sugar and sweeten to taste.


    Baked: Explorations is like a culinary time capsule: the PB&J bars taste like grade school lunches, the no-bake peanut butter cookies bring back memories of time spent "cooking" with Mom in the kitchen, while the orange Creamsicle tart will take you back to childhood summers spent drinking orange soda (pop, Coke) on the front steps. Classic shortbread cookies, thumbprint cookies, and grasshopper bars (my grandmother used to make a very similar confection) conjure up memories of "high tea" with grandma and her neighborhood friends.


    Regional desserts, especially those rescued from the musty depths of community cookbooks, are featured prominently, including offerings from the Northeast (Maine's Joe Froggers, NYC's black and white cookie), buckeyes and heartland turtle bars from the Midwest, and strawberry Jell-o salad (even before I became a vegetarian, gelatin and I were on dubious footing). Southern cuisine gets a definite nod, with honey corn muffins, buttermilk pie, cowboy cookies, pudding bars, lady praline chiffon cake, and burnt sugar bundt cake with caramel rum frosting. To appease the various factions of mud pie purists, there are two different versions of Mississippi Mud Pie; the first is a chocolate-drenched, bourbon-laced coffee ice cream tart, while the second, Muddy Mississippi Cake, is a flourless chocolate cake "inside a cookie crust topped with a layer of silky chocolate pudding and whipped cream."


    As with their previous cookbook, "Baked: Explorations" is beautifully laid out on high-quality paper, and the eye-catching photography by Tina Rupp really pops. Reading each recipe's introduction is part of the fun; ingredients and instructions are clearly laid out and broken into manageable steps, while Baked notes and variations are also featured. You'll find a handy metric conversion chart and list of sources at the back, while helpful hints on ingredients, preparation, and storage can be found throughout. This is one cookbook that more than lives up to the high expectations of its predecessor, and will make the perfect gift for any foodie on your list.

    (Review copy courtesy of Abrams)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    Must Have!

    I am a baker. I am also a cookbook lover. I read them like novels. This cookbook reads like a classic. So many great recipes! This book has elevated my baking to a whole new level. Some of the recipes are time consuming, but well written and precise. The end result is well worth the time. Also, they share stories on how each recipe originated, then their take on it. Love it! If you love to bake, and love cookbooks, please make this book one of your own!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

    Great Recipes!

    I highly recommend this cookbook for the lone reason that it includes the recipe for the Sweet and Salty Brownie!!! However, it contains many other fabulous treats and is well written and easy to follow if you have basic baking experience. Some other coveted recipe's include: Strawberry Jell-O salad, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Heartland Turtle Bars, Monkey Bubble Bread, and Mississippi Mud Pie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2014

    These two fellas really know what they are doing. I thoroughly e

    These two fellas really know what they are doing. I thoroughly enjoy the recipes in this book!

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