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The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder…
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The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking

by Samantha Seneviratne

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/Ten Speed Press for an honest review. "The New Sugar and Spice" by Samantha Seneviratne is a unique way of making healthier desserts by using spices.

This is more than a cookbook. You not only get great recipes using spices from pepper to cardamom, but you also get a personal story from the author. I loved reading her stories.

To me this book could be used as a reference book with the equipment information to the details about the ingredients. You will learn the history of the spices, how to buy and store the spices. Also, you will learn how to tell if the spices are still good and an explanation on the flavor they can provide to our recipes.
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  booksnuggle | Nov 9, 2015 |
We’re obsessed with sugar in this country, and we’ve overwhelmed our taste buds with the sticky sweet flavor of sugar. This book shows you how other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves, cloves and lavender can balance out the sweetness in desserts to produce more full flavors.

Author Samantha Seneviratne opens the book with an introduction on how she began baking and sharing her creations with her dearly beloved brother (whom she later lost), the hours spent in her grandmother's kitchen in Sri Lanka, the transition that had her making over traditional American overly-sweet desserts to more full-flavored desserts spiked with things like cinnamon and cardamon.

She then shares a chapter on “Baking Tips, Equipment, and Ingredients” before delving into the spices and recipes for which this book is named. The chapters are organized by spice ingredient:

Peppercorn and Chile
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Clove and Cardamon
Vanilla
Ginger
Savory Herbs and Spices (like Caraway, Bay Leaves and Lavender)

Each chapter has an introduction to the chosen spice named in it, replete with childhood memories surrounding how the spice was used in family recipes, the history of the spice, and buying and storing suggestions, before moving into the recipes themselves, which include lovely yummies like:

Golden Syrup and Berry Pudding Cake
New Love Cake
Indonesian Spiced Layer Cake
Pistachio and Chocolate Butter Cake
Pavlova with Lime Custard and Basil Pineapple
Butter Rum Snack Cake
Bay Leaf Rice Pudding

My final word: I was so excited to open this book for the first time. It looks and feels high quality. There is beautiful photography throughout to entice you, charming stories shared by the author. The recipes are easy-to-follow and have some pretty common ingredients that should be easy to come by. I love complex flavors and textures, and this cookbook is right up my alley! This isn’t just a cookbook. It’s a memoir and world travelogue of the palate. ( )
  nfmgirl2 | Nov 4, 2015 |
A solid 4 star dessert cookbook that includes gorgeous photos and original recipes. The book is organized by spices (with a brief history at the beginning of each section) and the recipes have clear instructions. The author also incorporates some personal stories throughout each chapter. With the holiday season quickly arriving, I look forward to trying a few of the fancier dishes. The Mango Pops are great!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. ( )
  LibStaff2 | Oct 15, 2015 |
I hope it's not blasphemy if I say this book might be considered a religious experience. How can a cookbook be a religious experience? When I and every other person I've shown it to has gotten a look at the recipes – titles and photographs – in this book has only been able to say "Oh my God."

I only just recently connected to Blogging For Books, made my first selection, and waited for it – an actual hardcover, not digital – to come in the mail. Having a terrible short term memory, when I opened it I muttered in disappointment, "I requested a cookbook?" Thirty seconds – and a few "Oh my God"s – later, I was all but hugging the book to myself in delight: "I requested a cookbook!"

As the description says, this is a collection of dessert recipes. Most of them are quite familiar: sticky buns and strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate chip cookies and fruitcake. Yes, fruitcake. What makes this worth getting, and more than worth getting, is the little twist to each recipe: the author builds on her Sri Lankan background as a springboard to tweak each old familiar recipe with an unexpected spice – or herb – which makes it something new and marvelous. This isn't a book I'll use once or twice, make a recipe or three, and never open again. If all goes well I would like to work my way through the whole thing, and make all of them. Including the fruitcake.

The book is gorgeous. There is no dust jacket, and thus no dust jacket to be soiled or torn in media res. It's enjoyable to read – Samantha Seneviratne has a sense of humor, demonstrated in the introductions to the recipes. The recipes are marvelous – and the photography by Erin Kunkel is completely irresistible. It's a beautiful, beautiful book from cover to cover. I'm going to have to find a better exercise program to counteract this …

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review." ( )
  Stewartry | Aug 30, 2015 |
Samantha Seneviratne grew up in the USA but she spent many summers visiting her extended family in the hill country of Sri Lanka, Ceylon, Serendib, the land where Shakespeare was born (you have to have lived there to know that legend) and where the gardens are rich with spice plants. She thus brings to her book a more personal relationship with spices than many of us have.

Ms Seneviratne also brings a modern and important sensibility to desserts, one that puts flavour ahead of sweetness, a sensibility I share. I recently happened on Paula Deen's 2014 holiday mag and I found myself completely put off by the bland sugariness of the recipes. Ms Seneviratne's book came to me only 2 days later and, while I do not fully embrace the notion, prevalent in some schools of modern cooking, that herbs and spices can be inserted willy nilly into anything (preserve me from lavender essence) many of these recipes look delicious.

The recipes are grouped by the use of particular spices, and three of them, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger, are my favourites. I love cinnamon too, particularly cassia cinnamon, different from the Sri Lankan Cinnamomum verum that Ms Seneviratne likes.

The recipes are not too elaborate and they do not generally require exotic ingredients. Ms Seneviratne's stories that accompany many recipes are warm and homey without being cute or trite. My only disappointment is that she neglects an updated recipe for watalapan, my favorite Sri Lankan dessert, made with cashews and nutmeg or sometimes cardamom. Watalapan is very sweet, and a recipe with a more complex flavour would be welcome. I note too that the Asian cardamom of the Amomum sp. are not discussed.

I received a review copy of "The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking" by Samantha Seneviratne (Ten Speed) through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Aug 30, 2015 |
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Collects more than eighty unique dessert recipes using exotic spices, including chile-chocolate truffles, cinnamon toast bread pudding, Indonesian spiced layer cake, cr?epe cake with pistachio cream, and fig and fennel seed biscotti.

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