Cookbook Review: BraveTart

Stella Parks loves American baking: from Oreos to Wonder Bread, her cookbook, BraveTart shines the light on classic American cakes, cookies, and candies. In truth, Ms. Parks – one of the top Pastry Chefs in America according to Food & Wine magazine – wrote the cookbook I hoped to someday write, a cookbook that codified American baking in ways that sets it apart from our culinary forebears. And she succeeds.

To Chef Parks, S’Mores aren’t guilty pleasures; rather, they are simply pleasures. And she encourages us to have the same attitude towards treats as she shows us how to make everything from homemade fudge and doughnuts to pies and Pop-Tarts to Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies:

BraveTart provides not only delicious recipes but also unapologetic explanations of her decision-making process for using one ingredient or another, like how White Lily flour and King Arthur flour act the way they do in recipes and why she uses a pinch of nutmeg in her Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. Additionally, each of her recipes is followed by variations, from gluten-free versions of nearly all of her treats to unexpected ideas like Brown Butter and Sage Marshmallows (a transcendent flavor combination when paired with white chocolate in a S’Mores).

After having read BraveTart, I feel I can confidently say, “I am a classic American baker,” and I now have a tome defining what that means. I would highly recommend you read her book, BraveTart and enjoy taking the guilty out of your pleasures.

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