Recipes by Allysa Torey and Jennifer Appel
Photographs by Rita Maas and Zeva Oelbaum
Simon & Schuster -- 2009
Buy it on Amazon
While we can admit that we're not the biggest fans of the extremely popular sugary concoctions (cupcakes) that Magnolia Bakery puts out, we are on the other hand, fans of their bars and squares. Yes, the cupcake movement has taken over New York City, but there's no doubt that this establishment still holds the market share with the longest lines.
"The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook" consists of recipes for muffins, quick breads, coffee and Bundt cakes, cookies, brownies and bars, cupcakes and layer cakes, icings, cheesecakes, pies, tarts and ice creams. Whew. Chances are if you've ever seen it in the front window of the bakery, the secret to that recipe lies in this book, along with some new recipes from Allysa Torey's home kitchen.
See what we tested and find out whether the book's worth buying after the jump.
Takeaway tips: General baking hints for cakes, icing, cookies, pies and cheesecake are all offered in the first section of the book. Some of the tips even offered us some new know-how. For example, to avoid the cracks in cheesecake, "Cool the cheesecake gradually in an oven that has been turned off; extremes in temperature lead to surface cracks." Another bit of useful information deals with the type of pans to use for certain desserts: "glass baking dishes tend to work better than pans with a nonstick surface for pies, brownies and squares."
Quality of pictures: Dessert photographs tend to draw readers in -- the glisten of buttery frosting, soft chocolate chips breaking apart in cookies and crispy, flaky crusts on top of pies. Only two small sections of the book showcase color images, leaving us hungry for more dessert. On the bright side, they chose to photograph a good variety of desserts, not one cupcake after another, which we were dreading.
We tested: Magic Cookie Bars and Raspberry Crumb Squares
Baking these Magic Cookie Bars might just add more happiness into your life. Bars packed with walnuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk sit on top a buttery graham cracker crust and baked until lightly golden. This recipe couldn't be simpler to prep and bake than a boxed-cake mix, which makes this ideal for bake sales and holiday gifts.
A little more time consuming than the bars, but just as straight-forward in the directions, the Raspberry Crumb Squares turned out equally delicious with the perfect ratio of brown sugar crumbs to fruity filling. The filling, made up of raspberry preserves, makes this a year-round recipe and with common ingredients found in the pantry such as flour and brown sugar, these squares are a perfect last-minute dessert. Not a raspberry fan? Switch out the raspberry preserves for strawberry, apricot or four-berry to please your palate.
Worth the investment: If you're a die hard Magnolia Bakery fan, than there's no doubt you'll enjoy this book. If you can't make up your mind whether you should buy one of her first two cookbooks or this one, stop wasting your time. This book is a compilation of the previous two, along with some additional recipes from Torey's home kitchen.