Gale Gand's Just a Bite: 125 Luscious, Little Desserts

Overview

Sweets. As kids, we could never get enough, and anything sugary, gooey, and good was gratefully devoured. As adults, we give a polite “no thank you” when a dessert tray passes by, or take but a sliver of cake if offered, showing restraint that would make any ten-year-old incredulous. Well, that’s not fair. Why should kids get all the fun? Now, adults can have the best of both worlds.

Gale Gand’s Just a Bite is equal parts kitchen-table, kid-giggling joy and uptown, grown-up ...

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Overview

Sweets. As kids, we could never get enough, and anything sugary, gooey, and good was gratefully devoured. As adults, we give a polite “no thank you” when a dessert tray passes by, or take but a sliver of cake if offered, showing restraint that would make any ten-year-old incredulous. Well, that’s not fair. Why should kids get all the fun? Now, adults can have the best of both worlds.

Gale Gand’s Just a Bite is equal parts kitchen-table, kid-giggling joy and uptown, grown-up chic. Award-winning pastry chef Gale Gand has collected the recipes from her Food Network show Sweet Dreams and renowned restaurant Tru into a book that is as charming and accessible as the author herself. These recipes aren’t just for the expert baker or pastry connoisseur but also for the everyday cook looking to lighten up the end of a meal, or even replace the ubiquitous brownie with, say, Banana Brûlée Spoonfuls. With easy-to-follow instructions, a handful of ingredients, and a craving for fun, you’ll be whipping up Devil’s Peaks with Double-Chocolate Drizzle and popping them in your mouth before, as a kid, you could have licked the frosting beater clean.

Gale has also assembled a mini-menu of sorts for her delectables. Called the Tasting Trio, three of the treats are served together for maximum, sweet tooth bliss. Combinations like Bomb Poppers, Marshmallow Moons, and Butterfly Cupcakes; or Orange-Vanilla “Fried Eggs” on Cinnamon Toast, Meringue Cigarettes, and Mini Granita Watermelons. Or try your own assortments, putting together yummys like Stained-Glass Cookies and Fig Nortons with Peanut Butter Cookie—Grape Jelly Ice Cream Sandwiches and Mini Root Beer Floats. The possibilities are endless and the flavors . . . wow, with flavors like this, who needs to be a kid again?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
You can tell from the first page that Gale Gand is having a great time in the kitchen -- and that she's been playing with food since she was a kid. This is an irrepressible, delightful, creative book of miniature sweets, full of wonderful ideas for birthday parties, dessert parties, and buffets.

"We love miniature sweets because they are a wonderful combination of dessert and toy," says Gand, pastry chef at her own Chicago restaurant and host of the Food Network show Sweet Dreams. To this day her favorite miniatures -- root beef floats served in tiny cups with straws cut to size or baby chocolate doughnuts paired with cranberry jam and a little vanilla malted -- are based on the treats of her childhood.

As a chef, Gand has learned that what people want after a good meal is not a heavy dessert but just a bite or two of something sweet. A tray of petits fours is the classic solution, but her petit fours are far from formal -- in fact, her trays of lollipops, chocolate cigarettes, and tiny Rice Krispies treats make the waiters giggle.

Gand likes to serve three little desserts together for a special taste treat, so you'll find that each recipe includes a good tasting trio: for example Chocolate-Mint Tiddlywinks, Animal Crackers, and Brittle-Topped Vanilla Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits, or Peanut Butter Cookie-Grape Jelly Ice Cream Sandwiches, Clementines in Mint Syrup, and Chocolate-Caramel Cigarillos.

There are many wonderful ideas in the book: cupcakes with the tops carved and positioned to look like butterflies; cookies that resemble mah-jongg titles, layered Jell-O juice shots, and a peppermint stick–white chocolate bark that uses up all the peppermint sticks leftover from Christmas. You don't need complicated equipment to execute the recipes, but you'd better go out and get a mini muffin tin, if you don't already have one. (Ginger Curwen)

From the Publisher
“Gale’s mastery as both an artist and a chef is evident on every page of this gorgeous, whimsical book. Anyone can make an oversized confection; it takes a superior talent to craft such tiny masterpieces.”
-- Mario Batali
Mario Batali
Gale’s mastery as both an artist and a chef is evident on every page of this gorgeous, whimsical book. Anyone can make an oversized confection; it takes a superior talent to craft such tiny masterpieces.
Library Journal
Gand, the pastry chef of Chicago's acclaimed Tru restaurant, is also the host of Sweet Dreams, a popular Food Network series. Her last book was Butter Sugar Flour Eggs; here she presents recipes for the "bite-size" (or two- or three-bite size) desserts she serves on her "Tasting Trio" plates though each one could also be served on its own. Gand loves miniature sweets "a combination of dessert and toy" but flavor is all-important. Her recipes are organized by categories of "bites" Cookie Bites, Creamy Bites, Frozen Bites, etc. with color photographs of such delectable creations as Banana Brul e Spoonfuls, Tiny Lemon Angel Cakes, and Taffy Lady Apples. For all baking collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780609608258
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.61 (w) x 9.45 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Gale Gand is coauthor of American Brasserie and Butter Flour Sugar Eggs, which was nominated for the James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Award for Best Dessert Book of 2000. Gale is executive pastry chef of Chicago’s acclaimed restaurant Tru, star of the Food Network series Sweet Dreams, and owner of her own root beer company. Gale was named Pastry Chef of the Year 2001 by the James Beard Foundation.

Julia Moskin is coauthor of several books, including American Brasserie and Butter Flour Sugar Eggs.

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Read an Excerpt

Mah-Jongg Tiles
makes 60

My fantasy of the perfect life includes occasional weekends with no one around but my girlfriends, and nothing to do but play games and bake treats for one another. Friday night would definitely be devoted to playing mah-jongg. Two of my pals have taken up this Asian game in the past few years, rounding up other women whose mothers and aunts used to play.

Part of the appeal of mah-jongg is certainly the beautiful tiles and racks, often made of Bakelite (mah-jongg was big in the 1950s). These cookies, made from my mother's favorite sugar cookie dough and decorated to resemble the tiles, look great arranged on the colorful racks! And if the cookies make you want to play, you can find intact sets at Internet shopping sites or at flea markets. The National Mahjongg League will be happy to send you the simple rules.

you'll need
A straightedge or ruler
Two cookie sheets, well greased or lined with parchment paper or with nonstick baking mats (see page 16); or nonstick cookie sheets
A few mah-jongg tiles, to copy
Tubes of black, red, and green icing with small tips for piping (you can buy these at most supermarkets and all baking supply stores)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream the butter until smooth and fluffy in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix. Sift 1 cup of the flour with the baking powder, add to the mixer, and combine. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix just until combined. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Lightly flour a work surface. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a clean straightedge as a guide, with a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the dough on a grid into rectangles, about 1 3 1 1/2 inches each. Transfer to the cookie sheets and bake until very light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan. Then apply the colored icings.

The three suits are: "craks," Chinese characters drawn in thin red lines; "dots," black circles with red centers; and "bams," short lengths of green bamboo.

Caramel-Orange Rice Crisps
makes about 16

A delicate, crackly combination of caramel corn and Rice Krispies Treats, with a bit of orange for zip, this nonfat tidbit is wonderfully crunchy, but as light as air and not too sweet. The golden caramel just coats the rice and holds it together.

you'll need
A square or rectangular baking pan, about 8 x 8 inches, thickly buttered
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Freshly grated zest of 1 orange

Pour the sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour 1/3 cup water around the walls of the pan, trying not to splash any sugar onto the walls. Do not stir; gently draw your finger twice through the center of the sugar, making a cross, to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring until the mixture is a golden caramel, about 15 minutes, swirling the mixture occasionally to even out the color. Turn off the heat and stir in the cereal and the orange zest.

Scrape the mixture into the buttered pan and press lightly to pack down into the pan. Let cool. Using a serrated knife, cut into bars (either cutting in the pan, or turning out the recipe onto a work surface first). Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Dried-Plum-Pecan Chews
makes about 60

When I was growing up, children were supposed to drink oceans of milk every single day for their health. Fortunately, my mother came from a long line of bakers and often devised new desserts that made a tall glass of cold milk taste great. This chewy-sweet fruit and nut bar, which bakes up with a crackly brown-sugar crust, is one of them.

These moist bars last for a long time in the cookie jar. They are packed with "dried plums," as the growers' association now wants us all to refer to prunes!

you'll need
A 9 x 13-inch baking pan, buttered and floured (or use a nonstick pan)
4 eggs
1 pound (2 1/4 cups packed) light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pitted dried plums (formerly known as prunes), quartered
9 ounces (about 3/4 cup) pecan halves

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Beat the eggs until light and foamy in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer). Add the sugar and mix. Add the flour, salt, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Stir in the dried plum pieces by hand.

Spread the pecans in a single layer in the prepared pan. Pour the batter over the pecans. Bake until the center feels set and a top crust forms, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan to room temperature. Use a serrated knife with a sharp point to cut into 1 1/2-inch squares, cleaning your knife often.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 8
Basics and equipment 11
Cookie Bites 23
Cake Bites 65
Creamy Bites 103
Frozen Bites 189
Candy Bites 129
Chocolate Bites 215
Fruity Bites 243
Cheese Bites 281
Sources 300
Index 301
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Recipe

CHOCOLATE-RASBERRY POT PIES
Makes 10 to 12; can be halved

You can stop flipping pages now: Here's the surest crowd-pleaser in the whole book. Like any pot pie, it's made up of a warm, creamy filling with a crisp top crust. My dessert version offers an oozy flourless chocolate cake center, with juicy raspberries suspended in the hot chocolate, then a flaky dark-chocolate cookie crust on top.

My pastry sous-chef Megan Kehoe fine-tuned this recipe until it is absolutely perfect, with a wonderful balance of flavors and textures. We always serve the pies warm -- and sometimes we can't resist eating them right out of the oven. But you can also let them cool, then reheat them in the oven or a microwave just before serving.

You'll need
10 to 12 ramekins

For the Crust
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/8 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for rolling

For the Filling
6 egg yolks
4 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
18 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup raspberries
Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Make the crust: Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) until fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix.

Stir the remaining crust ingredients together, then add to the butter mixture and mix. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

When the dough is chilled, sprinkle a work surface with cocoa. Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick, then cut rounds to fit the tops of the pies. Cover the tops with plastic wrap while they rest.

Heat the oven to 375° F.

Make the filling: Combine the egg yolks, the whole eggs, and the sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until fluffy and light. Stir the melted chocolate into the egg mixture. Stir in the melted butter.

Use a ladle or pitcher to divide the filling among the ramekins. Gently push 3 raspberries down into each one. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Remove the pies but leave the oven on.

Top each pie with a round of chocolate crust and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. let the pies cool slightly and serve with whipped cream. Or let them cool completely and re-warm them before serving. Serve the same day.

STRIPED JUICE SHOTS
Makes 8 to 10

I've been preoccupied with Jell-O for as long as I can recall -- since long before I became a pastry chef. As an art student, I remember using a bathtub full of jell-O as part of a commentary on women's creative lives. It's probably a good thing I became a pastry chef instead.

These days I make my own light, fresh fruit gels from scratch, using real juices and powdered gelatin. It’s a snap. I often serve them as a little teaser, or amuse-bouche, before dessert, or alone with a blob of cream. These striped cups are fun and tasty for adults, and of course they're perfect for children's parties. If you're really feeling childish, you can mix gummy worms into the middle layer: Princess Diana's butler, Paul Burnell, told me he used to do that for Prince Harry and Prince William on their birthdays.

You'll need
8 to 10 small clear glasses, about 4 ounces (1/2 cup) each

3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1-1/4 cups strawberry-banana juice, or another pink or red fruit juice of your choice
1-1/4 cups purple grape juice
1-1/4 cups orange or tangerine juice

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the gelatin over the strawberry-banana juice in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Warm in the microwave for 30 seconds or on the stove to dissolve the gelatin, and strain the mixture into a small pitcher. Divide among the serving glasses and chill until set, about 30 minutes.

Repeat the process with the purple grape juice, pouring it on top of the strawberry-banana jelly, and chill to set. Repeat the process with the orange juice, chill to set, and serve cold.

CARAMEL-ORANGE RICE CRISPS
Makes about 16

A delicate, crackly combination of caramel corn and Rice Krispies Treats, with a bit of orange for zip, this nonfat tidbit is wonderfully crunchy, but as light as air and not too sweet. The golden caramel just coats the rice and holds it together.

When I first made these I thought the stirring would crush the Rice Krispies, but fear not: it doesn't.

You'll need
A square or rectangular baking pan, about 8 x 8 inches, thickly buttered

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3-1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Freshly grated zest of 1 orange

Pour the sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour 1/3 cup water around the walls of the pan, trying not to splash any sugar onto the walls. Do not stir; gently draw your finger twice through the center of the sugar, making a cross, to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring until the mixture is a golden caramel, about 15 minutes, swirling the mixture occasionally to even out the color. Turn off the heat and stir in the cereal and the orange zest.

Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes, then scrape it into the buttered pan and press lightly to pack down into the pan. Let cool. Using a serrated knife, cut into bars (either cutting in the pan, or turning out the recipe onto a work surface first). Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Copyright © 2001 by Gale Gand and Julia Moskin.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    My favorite dessert cookbook

    I have made at least 20 of the recipes in this book and they are amazing...the best chocolate cake recipe you will ever make (chockablock) You will get rave reviews on everything you make. Yum!

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    Posted May 27, 2011

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