December 01, 2012
The Red Hat Society Eat Dessert First Cookbook
This is quite the decadent cookbook. And with the holidays rolling around there is always plenty of room on the table for dessert. This book has quite a few fabulous recipes in it, and most are quite easy to make as well.
As most people know, the Red Hat Society is a club for ladies who primarily dress in purple and red and hats. And I'm sure there's more to it than that, but I honestly don't know much beyond that. Except that these ladies can cook, and that this book puts dessert before everything else.
There are several sections to this book. The first is "Cakes for Every Occasion". The Raw Apple Cake is the first recipe in the book and it was interesting, but it did turn out rather dense, so it was a filling type of cake. The Best Ever Coconut Pound Cake was ok, but didn't actually taste coconutty, and the recipe for glaze that came with it made entirely too much. But then there was the Peanut Butter Sheet Cake. Oh my goodness. This was about one of the most fabulous cakes I've had, and I usually prefer my peanut butter spicy as compared to sweet. Then there was the Double Delicious Banana Cake. It was good, but quite messy and the batter only made enough for 2 layers, instead of the three that it called for. A time consuming recipe in this book was the Mexican Chocolate Cake, but it was entirely worth it. There's something about a mix of spices and chocolate that is a great favorite of mine. Claire's Lavender and Lemon Cake was ok, but I didn't find it remarkable or overly note-worthy. The only real disappointment in this chapter was the German Black Forest Cake and that's because it was mostly put together from canned and boxed ingredients and it just tasted fake to me.
The next section was "Savory Cheesecakes and Pies". I made the Mini Surprise Cheesecakes to take into work and they were very popular. And for a cheesecake they weren't that hard to make either. Then there was the Fresh Blueberry Cream Pie. I greatly enjoyed this. It was definitely fresh tasting. The Strawberry pie was also delicious.
Which leads us to "Pastry Delights". I made the Cranberry-Maple Nut Scones in this section and they were amazing. Light, flaky, and filled with great ingredients, I could probably eat these for breakfast every day. The Sun Parlor Coffee Cake was also good, and another hit at work. As was the Mom's Neverl-Fail Sour Cream Coffee Cake. And they were so easy to make. The Strawberry Orange Muffins were another good breakfast item.
"Mouthwatering Bars and Luscious Brownies" was a chapter I didn't delve into too far. It had all the standards though. The Apple Nut Squares tasted healthy, and they were easy to make. The Blonde Brownies tasted ok, but they were rather dry.
Next chapter was "Old-Fashioned Favorites". I made the Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce and it was ok, but not something I'd make again. They had other interesting sounding recipes in the chapter though that I haven't tried yet, like Rice Pudding and Fondue.
"Frozen Delights" was a chapter I did not get into. But there were recipes for ice cream or recipes involving ice cream, like Baked Alaska.
Which brings us to "A Medley of Other Sweet Pleasures". This is a mish mash of all types of desserts, and I only read through a little bit in this chapter. But there are puddings, bread puddings, cobblers, etc.
"Brittles, Truffles and Assorted Candies" is exactly as it sounds. There are even numerous types of fudge in this section. I made the Fleming Fudge and it didn't set up right for me, but I was living at a high altitude at the time which could have had an influence.
The last section was "Thirst-Satisfying Beverages" and I didn't make anything from this chapter. Nothing particularly stood out for me but there are punches galore and even an eggnog recipe in this section.
Technically speak this book does a good job on measurements and baking times. There were only a few that I had trouble with, and one of those could have been due to the high altitude. So a beginner cook could probably be quite successful using this book. Everything is clearly spelled out.
The book was put together beautifully. Great big pictures that are well done for a good portion of the recipes. And throughout the book are pictures and stories from different Red Hat Society Club Members, which would probably be appealing for someone who is a member. I kind of just ignored them. The index is easy to use and each recipe is credited to the lady that submitted it. This would be a great book for someone in this club or someone who enjoys making desserts.