Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion

It seems like every cookbook or recipe box has the same version of the classic American dessert recipes. For example, the classic Banana Nut Muffin is a popular breakfast staple in bakeries. Another example, carrot cake is the only vegetable cake I have ever seen in every bakery window in my hometown. As I am listing these items, you can probably think of the flavors of each item. So how do you spice up or change such classic recipes to make them special or reimagined?

Might I suggest The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark. It is broken into 7 sections from brunch to restaurant desserts at home. The focus of adding those twist to your dessert for any occasion. The picture are bright and crisp so you can clearly see what the end product will look like. They leave very clear technique tips for some of their more precise or recipes that require a higher cooking skill set. There are even tips for ingredients to bring out more of the key flavors to the recipes. I personally was intrigued by the book because of the recipes being unlike any other cookbook but having familiar bases. Like any good baker, I grabbed this cookbook. I picked 3 recipes to try and share the twists on tradition.

The first recipe I tried was Banana Coconut Streusel Muffins. The base recipe reminded me of a banana nut muffin that I loved as a kid. However, I would have never thought to top my muffin with a coconut streusel. It added crunch without adding weight. I shared these muffins at a family brunch last weekend and everyone loved the change to the usual breakfast fare. Many asked for the recipe, but with my few adjustments. The first tip being to use a food processor for making the crumble. The second tip being clove, cinnamon, and vanilla to your batter as much or as little as you like to enhance the flavors. These muffins were different from any normal store bought muffins and were the special treat needed to our weekly brunch.

The second recipe I tried was Carrot Cake with Mandarin Oranges and Cream Cheese Icing. This recipe was a show stopper at my Easter dinner. The oranges were an unusually addition but I will never discredit the addition. The oranges add some natural sweetness and moisture to a cake mix that can be very dry when you cook it. The orange juice helped make the icing not require as much sugar that it was utterly delicious. (There may have been some bowl licking with the leftover of the icing once the cake was iced) However, there was a small misunderstanding in the recipe. On the ingredients list, it list vegetable oil as a key ingredient to the cake mix. When I read vegetable oil, I think of canola oil since I grew up in the home kitchen in one of America’s suburbs, but that was not the vegetable oil the recipe was talking about. The recipe was looking for Crisco shortening to create the light and fluffy mix with the brown sugar. So after a failed batter with the canola oil, I made the corrections with the second batter and it was a smashing success. Request have been made for this carrot cake to reappear next year.

The third recipe I tried was Chewy Brown Sugar Date Walnut Loaf. This recipe graced the family brunch table this weekend and fights broke out over the last slice of the loaf. I personally loved this recipe because it was a different breakfast loaf and was very easy to assemble. Served as is or with cream cheese, I found the crunchy nuts with the molasses like sweetness beyond delicious and filling. The only adjustment would be to add more dates because my family loves dates and there could never be too many dates for their preferences. It is reliving to have an easy special breakfast loaf that I can occasionally whip out to break up the boring traditional breakfast staples.

The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark with recipes being unlike any other cookbook. It plays on tradition with little twist to make them more special. How will you put your twist on tradition?

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