There's a trend of the tiny that's taking over the food world. Little bites of tapas have been sprouting in restaurants around the country; miniature hamburger sliders have appeared on many menus. It seems it was only time before our desserts, too, made the leap to the small and cute. And I don't think anyone is complaining. In a time when our food has taken on gigantic proportions and our waistlines have expanded to match, the tiny food revolution is a bit of a breath of fresh air.
Carole Bloom, a renowned pastry chef with degrees from some of the top chef schools in the world, is the perfect person to start the tiny dessert revolution. In this book, she takes sweet treats that are traditionally served much larger, like Bundt cakes, cupcakes, and cobblers, and whittles them down to just a few bites. Carole takes advantage of the slew of tiny cookware flooding the market to make her confections look like they were meant to be tiny instead of just small pieces of a much larger dessert.
The first things I had to try out of the cookbook were the Dried Cherry, Toasted Pecan, and Sour Cream Pound Cakes. Instead of making a huge loaf and cutting slices, these little treats are baked in miniature Bundt forms, yielding 12 little cakes. The mix itself was very easy to pull together, with no ingredients I couldn't easily source from my local grocery store. The small amount of batter the recipe yields took some getting used to, but after filling the pans, I found I actually had too much batter. Thinking maybe this was intended, I used all of the batter, and the cakes puffed up over the sides of the Bundt forms.Also, the timing Carole indicates in the book should probably be used as a guide of the absolute last possible minute to leave the cakes in before they burn, rather than an estimate of the time it will take to be done. I left my cakes in for the minimum 25 minutes she indicates, and they came out dry and very overdone. A taste test revealed the cakes were pretty bland.
After the disappointment of the pound cakes, I wanted to try something that would be more guaranteed to please. I chose the Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Frosting that appear on the cover of the book. Once again, the batter came together easily, and I had no trouble filling the cupcake molds. This time I checked the cupcakes two-thirds of the way through the cook time, only to find that they were already done. The ganache frosting was simple, and the end result is delicious. The cupcakes are tender and nutty, and the dark chocolate frosting adds just the right amount of sweetness.
The last recipe I tested was the Toasted Pecan Shortbread Bites. These cookies really reminded me of the pecan sandies my mother used to make when I was a child. I didn't have the mini tart pans that were required, so I ended up having to order them off the internet. The dough was typical cookie dough, but pressing out all of the tart pans was a little bit of a pain. Once again I had to watch them like a hawk to make sure they didn't overcook. The cookies were just as I expected, buttery and nutty, but didn't seem to be worth all the trouble I had taken to make them.
I think this cookbook is fabulous for desserts for dinner parties or other times when you might want to try something a little extra to impress, but the basics of the recipes are mostly the same traditional dessert items. All of the recipes require mini baking, cobbler, and tart pans, so unless you have these items already in your kitchen, you may have to go to some expense to acquire them. Some of the recipes are amazing, but others are rather boring and bland; the book is hit and miss in this regard. But the biggest issue for me was the baking times, which seemed to be way overestimated. I would recommend this cookbook as long as the purchaser knows what they're getting into.