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Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker's American Desserts
     

Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker's American Desserts

by Karen Barker, Ann Hawthorne
 

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Like many people, I believe that one should always save room for dessert," says Karen Barker. Inspired by this sumptuous collection of more than 160 easy-to-follow dessert recipes, you may decide to skip dinner altogether and head straight for the sweet stuff.

Drawing on years of professional experience as well as memories of cooking and baking from her New York

Overview

Like many people, I believe that one should always save room for dessert," says Karen Barker. Inspired by this sumptuous collection of more than 160 easy-to-follow dessert recipes, you may decide to skip dinner altogether and head straight for the sweet stuff.

Drawing on years of professional experience as well as memories of cooking and baking from her New York childhood, Barker gives us the benefit of cooking alongside an experienced mentor. Starting with the fundamentals, she offers advice on selecting key ingredients, suggestions for essential kitchen equipment, and even tips on ways to fit dessert-making into the busiest of schedules.

Her recipes begin with pastry doughs, sauces, and special toppings that serve as building blocks for other desserts and provide a foundation for home cooks eager to improve their skills. Chapters on pies, fruit desserts, custards, cakes, ice creams, cookies, and breakfast-like desserts feature familiar favorites with a twist, such as key lime coconut pie with rum cream, deep-dish brown sugar plum cobbler, dark chocolate Peppermint Pattie cake, and cornmeal vanilla bean shortbreads. Sweet Stuff offers something irresistible for everyone.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Karen Barker has assembled an amazing array of delectable desserts."
KLIATT

"Karen Barker believes one should always save room for dessert. And this . . . chef gives us plenty of reasons to share her belief, whether we're dining in her restaurant or perusing her delectable recipes. . . .With Karen's careful advice on ingredients and technique, it's easy to tackle any of Sweet Stuff's 160-plus recipes."
Chapel Hill Magazine

Award-winning pastry chef Karen Barker draws on memories of her New York childhood and years of professional baking experience to present a collection of more than 160 recipes for classic American desserts for the home cook, from fruit pies and fritters to cookies and ice creams.

Publishers Weekly
An award-winning pastry chef, Barker-coauthor (with her husband) of Not Afraid of Flavor, a cookbook from their restaurant, Magnolia Grill, in Durham, N.C.-presents a diverse and balanced selection of her favorite American desserts. She enthusiastically introduces home cooks to the basics of pies, fruit desserts, custards, ice cream, cookies, cakes, waffles and other breakfastlike desserts with clear, unintimidating directions and copious suggestions for variations. Every recipe includes a personal introduction, succinct directions, elaborate baker's notes with additional hints and advice, and serving suggestions that sometimes refer to other recipes in the book. By altering just a few ingredients or adding an unusual spice, Barker creates out-of-the-ordinary twists on classics, such as Apple Rhubarb Cardamom Crumb Pie, Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Custard Pie and Coffee Anise Creme Caramel, as well as more obscure tastes like Blackberry Slump with Sweet Potato Dumplings or Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Full-page photographs illustrate the dishes in mouth-watering detail. Although the book will satisfy any sweet tooth, lovers of fruit desserts will especially appreciate the abundance of recipes for pies, cobblers, crumbles, crunches, crisps, buckles, grunts, slumps and betties, as well as Barker's tutorial on how to tell the difference between them. (Apr. 19) Forecast: Although Barker's restaurant is in North Carolina and her book is being published by a university press, Sweet Stuff could have national appeal. Barker has received coverage in major magazines like More, Bon Appetit and Fine Cooking, and the publisher plans a 20,000-copy first printing and a national media campaign. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - KLIATT Review
Karen Barker has assembled an amazing array of delectable desserts. She introduces home cooks to the basics of pies, fruit desserts, custards, ice cream, cookies, cakes, waffles and other treats. All directions are clearly written and contain many suggestions for variations. Every recipe has a personal introduction, detailed directions, serving suggestions and notes along with additional hints and advice. Numerous illustrations enhance the recipes. Barker creates out-of-the-ordinary twists on classic recipes such as Apple Rhubarb Cardamom Crumb Cake, Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Custard Pie, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Milk Chocolate Pound Cake, Lemon Pecan Tart, and Key Lime Souffle Pudding. The recipes aren't overly complex and should not be intimidating. Special sections include baker basics, equivalent pan sizes, and metric and imperial conversions. The section entitled Before Getting Started includes valuable information about ingredients, equipment, and various kitchen tools, which will ensure success with the great recipes. Karen Barker and her husband own and operate the widely celebrated Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina. She won the Outstanding Pastry Chef award from the James Beard Foundation in 2003. Age Range: Ages 12 to adult. REVIEWER: Shirley Reis (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Library Journal
"Sweets make people happy," Barker says, and this new collection of her delicious desserts is sure to bring joy to any home baker. Previously, Barker's treats were featured in her and chef-husband Ben's Not Afraid of Flavor, a collection of fare from their restaurant, the renowned Magnolia Grill in Durham, NC. This set, however, does not strictly feature restaurant desserts-some of the recipes are on the Magnolia Grill menu, but others are long-time family favorites or her own versions of all-American classics. She likes to "layer flavors and textures," and among the delectable results are Cherry Vanilla Turnovers, Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake, and Key Lime Souffl Pudding. Most recipes include invaluable "Baker's Notes," along with serving suggestions for dressing them up. With color photographs throughout, this is for all baking collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807828588
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
04/19/2004
Edition description:
1
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
7.25(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sweet Stuff

Karen Barker's American Desserts
By Karen Barker

The University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 2004 Karen Barker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8078-2858-0


Chapter One

The Basics: A Baker's Building Blocks

Basic Pie Crust

Basic Tart Dough

My Favorite Dough for Individual Tarts

Flaky Puff-Style Pastry

Cream Cheese Pastry

Cinnamon Graham Pastry

Newton Tart Dough

Walnut Pastry Dough

The Caramelization Chronicles

Caramel Sauce

Cocoa Fudge Sauce

Chocolate Pudding Sauce

Creamy Peanut Butter and Honey Sauce

Hot Buttered Rum Raisin Sauce

Gingered Maple Walnut Sauce

Lynchburg Lemonade Sauce

Cinnamon Spiced Blueberry Sauce

Pineapple Caramel-and Variations on the Theme

A Couple of Apple Sauces

Raspberry Red Wine Sauce

Strawberry Crush

Concord Grape Syrup

Mint Syrup

Coffee Syrup

Chocolate Ganache

Homemade Chocolate Chips

Honeyed Almonds

Pecan Praline

Peanut Frangipane

Candied Chestnut Purée

Lemon or Lime Curd/Custard

Candied Orange Zest

Candied Orange Peel

Whipped Cream

Custard Sauce (Crème Anglaise)-A Basic Recipe and Variations

White Chocolate Cream

Crème Fraîche

Marshmallow Fluff

Within this chapter you will find recipes that are meant to be used as components of other recipes. I often refer to doughs, sauces, and garnishes as building blocks-pieces that will fit together in any number of combinations to form a variety of end results.

Every baker tends to have a core collection of basics that she or he turns to over and over again. For example, there are any number of delicious chocolate sauce recipes out there, but cocoa fudge sauce is my all-time favorite. I might vary the flavor to match a specific dessert by adding a bit of liqueur or instant coffee, infusing the cream with fresh mint, or combining the cocoa sauce with some caramel sauce; but the rudimentary recipe is one I never change. My basic pie crust is the one I use for all my pies and have relied on for years.

The best thing about all of these basics is that they can be made ahead of time. Some (as indicated) even freeze successfully. One of the ways professional bakers manage their days is by doing significant elements of preparation work in advance. I might make a menu cycle's worth of tart dough in one session, refrigerate what I will require for the next 2 to 3 days, and freeze the remainder. A large batch of raspberry sauce will be divided in half, with one part meant for immediate use and the other fresh-frozen for later in the week. Home bakers can do this on a smaller scale. It really is no more work to do a double recipe of pastry and save what you don't immediately need for the next time you have an occasion to use it. With a well-stocked freezer, putting together a complete dessert on short notice becomes a snap. The following are a few general tips that pertain to the advance preparation of basics:

Label and date everything!

Dough should be double wrapped for extended storage. I generally don't like to hold doughs for longer than 3 days in the refrigerator. They can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.

Always stir sauces that have been made ahead thoroughly-they sometimes have a tendency to separate a bit.

The best way to thaw pastry, cookie doughs, and sauces is gradually, overnight in your refrigerator. I confess that when time is of the essence I have relied on quickie countertop defrosting. A brief rechilling of doughs before rolling might be necessary if you do this.

You can freeze your own prerolled pie shells (with or without accompanying "tops") in disposable aluminum tins. These are infinitely preferable to the commercially produced kind.

While perhaps not ideal, it certainly doesn't hurt to have an "insta-dessert" on hand at all times. Get creative. A frozen poundcake, defrosted and lightly toasted before serving, can be delicious (especially if topped with ice cream). Frozen crisp topping can be defrosted in just a few hours and sprinkled on seasonal fruit, allowing you to serve a freshly baked dessert. Sundaes are a great way to end both family meals and VIP dinners-and all the components (with the exception of the whipped cream) can be frozen.

Basic Pie Crust

Makes enough pastry for 2 single-crusted pies or 1 double-crusted pie

I like to use a combination of butter and vegetable shortening in my pie crust. The butter contributes wonderful flavor, and the vegetable shortening gives the crust just the right amount of flakiness. I also thoroughly endorse the substitution of lard for the vegetable shortening. This recipe gives you a generous amount of pastry to allow for easier rolling.

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 tablespoon sugar

4 ounces (8 tablespoons) chilled butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces

approximately 1/4-1/2 cup cold water, as needed

Preparation

1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor with a steel blade. Pulse to combine.

2. Add the chilled butter and shortening; pulse until the fat is evenly cut in and the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Remove to a mixing bowl.

3. Working quickly, gradually add enough cold water, while tossing and stirring with a fork, until the dough just begins to come together. Divide the dough into 2 even portions, flatten into rounds, wrap in plastic, and chill for several hours or overnight.

Baker's Note: I always use regular Crisco shortening and Land O Lakes unsalted butter for my pie crusts. You can also substitute chilled lard for the vegetable shortening-this produces a distinctive, flavorful, and ultraflaky crust.

Basic Tart Dough

Makes enough pastry for 1 10- to 11-inch tart

This dough is very easy to put together and makes a great all-purpose rich pastry crust. It can be done by hand or with a mixer, but as with most doughs, I find that using a food processor is quicker.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces (8 tablespoons) chilled butter, cut into pieces

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons cream

Preparation

1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor with a steel blade. Pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk with the cream. Add the mixture to the processor and pulse, just until the dough starts to come together.

3. Remove the dough from the processor, knead several times, and pat into a flattened disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before using. The dough can also be frozen.

Baker's Note: You can substitute milk or half-and-half for the cream if you wish. This recipe also doubles very easily, so consider freezing an extra shell for future use.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sweet Stuff by Karen Barker Copyright © 2004 by Karen Barker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
With the help of Barker's book, being able to follow a recipe means being able to create delightful confections on a par with any elegant dessert that might be served in the very finest restaurants, not to mention the comforting desserts of home kitchens. . . . Her flair for combining familiar flavors in new ways gives the desserts old-fashioned appeal with a measure of excitement.—Our State

Karen Barker believes one should always save room for dessert. And this . . . chef gives us plenty of reasons to share her belief, whether we're dining in her restaurant or perusing her delectable recipes. . . .With Karen's careful advice on ingredients and technique, it's easy to tackle any of Sweet Stuff's 160-plus recipes.—Chapel Hill Magazine

Karen Barker is one of the country's best working bakers. . . . Keep an eye out (and an oven preheated) for her deep-dish brown-sugar plum cobbler, maple bourbon sweet potato pie and peach cobbler with cornmeal cream biscuits and more bourbon—remember, we're down South.—New York Times Book Review

A diverse and balanced selection of [Barker's] favorite American desserts. She enthusiastically introduces home cooks to the basics . . . with clear, unintimidating directions and copious suggestions for variations. . . . By altering just a few ingredients or adding an unusual spice, Barker creates out-of-the-ordinary twists on classics. . . . The book will satisfy any sweet tooth.—Publishers Weekly

If you like to bake you will fall in love with this wonderful book, and if you've never baked before, this book is a must for you. Either way, you are in for a great treat!—Maida Heatter, author of Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

In Sweet Stuff, James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Karen Barker shares the secrets behind her luscious desserts. Like any good teacher, Barker starts with the essentials . . . and works her way up to more elaborate creations.—Bon Appetit

Karen Barker's voice is as rich and pure as one of her poundcakes, as clear and sparkling as one of her sherbets. The only thing she understands better than the American sweet tooth is how to satisfy it. Save room on your shelf for Sweet Stuff: you will certainly want to save room for the sweet things within it.—Damon Lee Fowler, author of Classical Southern Cooking and Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Kitchen

Meet the Author

Karen Barker is the 2003 winner of the Outstanding Pastry Chef Award from the James Beard Foundation and 1999 winner of Bon Appetit's American Food and Entertaining Award for Best Pastry Chef. She and husband Ben Barker own and operate the nationally acclaimed Magnolia Grill restaurant in Durham, North Carolina. They are coauthors of Not Afraid of Flavor: Recipes from Magnolia Grill.

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