Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pecan Pralines and a Review of the Joy the Baker Cookbook

This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook Off, hosted by Heather at Girlichef and sponsored by Hyperion, who provided participants with a complimentary copy of the book. 

For the past month, I have been participating in the Joy the Baker Cookbook Cook Off and Spotlight hosted by Heather at Girlichef. Each week, along with 20-odd other bloggers, I made a recipe from the book.

I've made chocolate fudge browines:
Flax seed crackers:
 Chamomile mini cakes:
 And lavender lemon bars:
I worked against type and stayed faithful to the recipes, and I'm happy to report there wasn't a dud in the bunch. Quite the opposite!

On this, the fourth week, we've all been tasked with writing a review:

But I couldn't resist also making just one more thing - these pecan pralines:
 You didn't think I would pass up the chance to make a New Orleans treat, now did you? In fact, I surprised Poppa Trix with these, and he said he would put them up against any praline he's had in NOLA. Pretty high praise, that.

I have to agree with him - except for one teeny, tiny thing. The pralines that I cooled on the foil hardened up perfectly; while the ones I cooled on parchment paper never quite set. Both methods are given as options in the recipe, so I'm not sure what went wrong there. To be honest, I think they look much more photogenic before they've hardened:

But there's a problem ... you can't pick them up. Ever. Not a problem with the less attractive, yet perfectly hardened, pralines that I cooled on the foil:
That said, these sugary butter bombs were a hit, and exemplify what Joy's cookbook is all about: accessible, playful, simple, and downright fun recipes accompanied by luscious photos.

This is not a book filled with difficult pastry techniques and concepts. That has its place to be sure, but so does a book with practical, every day tips such as how to make your own buttermilk, how to get the bundt out of the pan, and how to soften butter in a jiffy.  These aren't the sort of recipes that you will  need to attempt over and over until you get it right - there are no macarons here, no Swiss meringues or puff pastry or things that will collapse.

What you will find are sweets (and some savory dishes) divided into categories that likely speak to some aspect of your life: cakes and milkshakes for celebrations, single lady chocolate cakes for those me-time moments, pancakes and waffles to ring in the weekend, brownies to comfort and soothe the soul, crowd-pleasing desserts to take to a party. And each recipe has an introduction or anecdote in Joy's signature down-to-earth voice. It's like your best girl friend wrote a cookbook and invited you to share in the fun.

I've had a great time participating in the Cook Off, and I've even learned to embrace my sweet side a little bit. And as for the recipe for those pralines? It's on page 206.

*This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*

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  1. Oh, I'm excited to see that you made the pralines - I was totally eyeing them in the book. And you know, I've had that experience with cookies...on foil, they'll get a crisp bottom, but on parchment or a silpat, they stay softer. Must be the insulating factor (?). This is a great thing to know, though...because I do want to try them in the future =) I'm so happy that you enjoyed this book and I want to thank you so much for being a part of this Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off, Trix =)

  2. Those are some delicious look pralines!

  3. What a beautiful roundup! I love your pecan pralines. I can only think they must be very addictive....mmmm

  4. The book delivers. Simple and comforting indeed. I picked up my copy last weekend and even braved a line of Joy's fans to get it. Her personality, like her recipes, just seem to connect with people. These pralines look lovely! Just the kind of thing I hope I never learn to make as I find them irresistible.

  5. What a treat! I would be all over those pralines, I need to pick up a copy of this book;-)

  6. Loving the Mardi Gras beads in the background!

  7. well of course you would go for pralines... these look like the best to me too, why I think you might even got ol' Aunt Sallys beat...

  8. Pralines are way at the top of my favorite goodies list, and these look amazing!
    Hope you are having a great weekend!

  9. Well, hello, sweet thang...don't you look nice!

  10. I love that you made the pralines because they weren't originally something that caught my eye. Thanks for the tip about using the foil (definitely good to know). So glad you loved this cookbook as much as I did. Glad to bake along with you for the spotlight!

  11. This sounds like a really great cookbook to have..especially for the great tips included. And I adore pralines, yours look amazing. I made them once from a recipe I got in NOLA. Would be fun to compare. Weird about he aluminum, parchment paper?

  12. LOOOVE IT :) The photo is scrumptious

  13. These are such yummy sweet treats!

  14. Oh Trix, you make me wanna jump in the kitchen right about now and bake some goodies. Although they won't be as yummy as yours, they can satisfy my craving for now!

  15. This was a really fun blog project to watch unfold. Everything she makes looks delicious and makes me happy. She really is a joy. Those pralines look so yum!