Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review Of Grace's Sweet Life:Italian Dessert Cookbook

Grace Mass Langlois is a women that purely wants to share her experiences, recipes and Italian heritage with the world.She wants to inspire,teach and help others to follow their passions in life.In her book "Grace's Sweet Life I feel that these are the most important aspects throughout this cookbook.Its not just about learning great dessert recipes, but also connecting with the author.She has you thinking back of your own childhood memories in the kitchen, food traditions and family.

In Grace's own personal life,she lives in London, Ontario and is a mother of two teenagers.She has a strong Italian heritage;however was born in Belgium and has lived in Canada since she's been very young.Food has always been a important aspect in her family and she describes her love for food as an obsession.However it hasn't always been easy and joyful for Grace.She has had some big challenges thrown her way in such a short time.She was injured in a career she loved and lost her husband not long after.This of course took a big toll on her and the family;however her own children pushed her to focus her energy in a positive way by following her passion for cooking.This lead to creating her own blog, titled Grace Sweet Life  focusing on desserts,which launched in April of 2010.

She is a very inspiration women and I feel very connected to her in sense of the blogging world.We both want to share our recipes,experiences and inspire others.I also came to the same conclusion as her that so much changes in your own life when you start a blog.For me,I've gain new confidence in myself,learn new skills,met wonderful people and it has led me to review this very book.We have both come a long away and I'm glad we took the step forward to sharing our passions in life.However Grace has taking it another step further by creating her own dessert cookbook,which is wonderful.

The book goes by the same titled as her blog and it shows the most enticing dessert photos.When you look throughout her book the photos are very detailed and colorful.Its actually surprising that her own teenage daughter took these very photos.The positions of the desserts flow really well and everything matches perfectly.Great photography for this cookbook.

The recipes are set up neat and tidy.Everything is set up as numbered directions and simply written.She give you lots of information to understand each recipe and in some desserts she gives you alternative way for ingredients or steps.She also has this cookbook set up that every recipe repeatedly used in another recipe is written in the front.The only thing I didn't really like about this book is some of the ingredients in the recipes are high cost or may be hard to find depending whats available to you.For someone that is on a budget like me I have to pick and choose recipes pretty carefully.However if you don't have that problem and are adventurous in your recipes then go for it.

For me, I have to be careful with the money I spend.So I chose to make Graces "Bigbe alla Crema Chanilly" recipe. In English its Profiteroles with Chantilly Cream (AKA Cream Puffs). For these cream puffs it has two recipes attached to one.One is to make the choux pastry and another is the Chantilly cream,which are combined together to create this delicious dessert.

Both are pretty simple in the ingredient list.The Chantilly cream consist of vanilla bean,heavy cream and icing sugar.This recipe has to be followed first before the pastry.This is because when you use vanilla bean it has to infuse into the heavy cream,meaning it has to sit in the cream for 1 to 24 hours in the fridge to gain flavor.Its pretty simple to create your own homemade vanilla cream.You just need the time to do it.In the recipe I learned that using vanilla bean really makes a difference in flavor;however Grace does mention you can use pure vanilla extract if you don't have the time to wait,which means you can easily make the a pastry first and the cream second.Now I didn't know how to split/scrape a vanilla pod.So I check out this great video for how to split and seed a vanilla bean. It has lots of good advice to learn from there and I highly recommend it.In the end this Chantilly cream recipe  is time consuming, but well worth the effort for the flavor.Plus Grace makes it easy to understand and follow.She even gives you helpful tips!

The most important steps in this recipe is to infuse the heavy cream for 1- 24 hours in an airtight container for the best flavor.Always strain the cream through a sieve/strainer to remove any solid to create a creamy whip cream.Plus follow the steps closely for beating to create a volume,light whip cream.Following these directions creates a delicious creamy filling with a very strong vanilla flavor.It reminds so much of soft vanilla ice cream and the vanilla seeds bring that really unique look to the cream.Best homemade vanilla whip cream ever!

Now for the choux pastry,it to only uses simple ingredients such as butter,water,sugar,salt,flour and eggs.Pretty much a staple for someone that cooks or bakes in the home.For this pastry I wasn't at all nervous in creating it compared to other fancier pastries.This is because when I was a teenager I made choux pastry once and I was successful at it.So I was excited to try out another recipe and see if I still had the skill for it.Apparently I did because it came out really well.I followed her directions and it came out perfectly. I learned that making the best choux pastry you got to be quick at your mixing and quick to get it off the heat.Its all about timing and cooking pastry evenly.For her recipe,the only step I had to change for myself was the size of the piping tip.Mine was a little smaller,which ended up creating more cream puffs,which is a win, win situation in my book.

I also learned that the most important steps to this recipe is to cut the butter in smaller pieces to help melt more quickly.Always sift your  flour and add quickly to boiling fat mixture.Stir very quickly and remove from heat.Add eggs one at a time,steering quickly and try to pipe your pastry as evenly as possible in spirals.Plus sprinkling or spraying the spirals with water helps to rise more quickly.

Following these steps helped me create the best puff pastry.I ended up with golden, risen, soft and crisp Profiteroles.They were moist, airy and held them selves really well against the whipping cream.They even lasted longer then the prefer time and didn't get to wet overtime.The only step in the whole pastry recipe that annoyed me in the process was continuously filling the piping bag.May be if I had a larger piping bag it would of been less messy, but in the end the piping of the spirals was the funniest part of the recipe.Plus watching the pastry dramatically puff up in the oven.It was really interesting.

Assembling the cream puffs all together was really fun too.Piping the whip cream in the puffs and then drizzling the melted semisweet chocolate on them. So yummy and I ended up with 44 cream puffs.It was delightful and the puffs were even good on their own as well.

Overall I give this recipe an A+ for flavor and A+ for direction.The book is hard to rate overall so I'll go through the categories.The book gets an  A+ for photography,directions and stories.The book gets a B for ingredients and equipment.Some of the items will be hard to find for some people and may be quite expensive to get.If your someone on a budget like me it may take awhile before following up on a recipe.I found a few recipes I could do where the items were available to me.Its still a great book and well put together.The desserts look amazing and Grace make it simple to create.Congrats Grace on your book being publish!