Cookbooks make great gifts for those committed to their sweet tooth

swthompson@herald-leader.comNovember 20, 2013 

A bunch of cookbooks have arrived in the mail for the holiday season. Cookbooks are ideal gifts for the food lover on your list, especially those who are addicted to sweets.

Here are a few you might consider that would make great gifts.

■ Who wouldn't salivate over a book all about chocolate? Seriously Bitter Sweet by Alice Medrich (Artisan, $25.95) is more about understanding the complexities of chocolate than how to whip up a pan of chocolate brownies. The terms "bittersweet" and "semisweet" are no longer sufficiently descriptive terms, said Medrich, who explains the difference between the dark richness of 72 percent pure chocolate and the sugary sweetness of 55 percent.

Sweet, Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts by Valerie Gordon (Artisan, $35) is ideal for the serious baker. Gordon is founder of Valerie's Confections in Los Angeles' Silver Lake district. She teaches readers not only how to make a cake, but to "build" a cake.

Perfect Pies & More (Ballantine Books, $26) is written by Michele Stuart, who is owner and pastry chef of Michele's Pies in Norwalk and Westport, Conn. She has won 27 first-place National Pie Championship Awards. Perfect Pies was Stuart's first book and this cookbook has new fruit, nut, cream, and party pies, plus recipes for cookies, bars, brownies, tea cakes, and spoon desserts.

■ You don't want to forget the person on your Christmas list who has been diagnosed with celiac disease. The Gluten-Free Cookbook from Sterling Publishing, for $9.99, includes recipes for carrot cupcakes, fruit mince tarts, toasted granola, and flourless chocolate nut cake.

■ This book you'll want to keep for yourself. Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookies is filled with secrets on how to decorate cookies, package them for gift giving, and be queen of the cookie exchange.

recipe

This recipe, from the book, was a prize-winning recipe in the 2007 Betty Crocker Cookie Contest.

BAKLAVA BARS

Cookie base:

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix

½ cup butter, softened

½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 egg

Filling:

1½ cups chopped walnuts

1⁄3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

8 frozen mini fillo shells (from 2.1-ounce package)

Glaze:

1⁄3 cup honey

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Garnish:

4 tablespoons honey

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom only of 13-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press in bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir walnuts, granulated sugar, ¼ cup butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the salt with fork until mixture is well mixed and crumbly.

Sprinkle nut mixture evenly over partially baked base. With hands, crumble frozen fillo shells evenly over nut mixture. Bake 18 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave 1⁄3 cup honey, 2 tablespoons butter, the brown sugar, lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon uncovered on high for 1 minute or until bubbly. Stir in vanilla.

Drizzle glaze evenly over fillo. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Before serving, drizzle about ½ teaspoon honey over each bar. Store covered at room temperature. Makes 24 bars.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com/.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service