“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpice.”
And that’s the not-so-secret of good baking. We do it because we love the process, the results, and the response.
Alice Carter’s book will get you all that. Her recipes are simple but special–as they should be for a gift. The gifter doesn’t need the stress of a complex recipe and the giftee should feel that these sweets and savories are not afterthoughts.
No baker will be stressed by brownies, cheese straws, or popcorn. Carter makes them special by swirling the brownies with salted caramel, studding the cheese straws with caraway seeds, and tossing the popcorn with white chocolate and pistachio. While mostly sweets, Carter includes some savory recipes as well–pretzels, oatcakes, and flavored salts.
Even when the recipe has the potential to be more complicated or at least sound as though it is, Carter keeps it simple. Her Madeleines are gently flavored with coconut, not too sweet, and a delicate complement to these shell-shaped, buttery sponge cakes. Her suggestion to chill the batter to ensure their rise in the oven will give you the confidence you may lack.
My White Chocolate-Dipped Pistachio and Apricot Cookies didn’t come out as neatly as Carter’s but no doubt were just as delicious. My apricots and pistachios could have been chopped more finely and my dipping was a bit hasty. But no one complained and everyone ate.
Carter keeps it simple as well in her presentations–which, as well all know–is half the battle of gift-giving. A vintage tin lined with parchment will do for cookies, a bottle collared with string and a tag labels infused oils. Carter recommends keeping parchment paper, baker’s twine, cellophane bags and a few empty jars on hand for wrapping and transporting your gifts. If you want to get adventurous, ice the Raspberry, Rose and Chocolate Cupcakes as she does with deep pink icing to make a flower or finish cinnamon-flavored blocks of chocolate with mini-marshmallows and a wooden spoon.
So get in the kitchen and please yourself and everyone else.