I don’t often begin reviews like this, but here it goes: Jessie Sheehan‘s Snackable Bakes is marvelous, and I think everyone should have a copy. While I have a huge library of cookbooks, Snackable Bakes ranks near the top and after baking almost a dozen recipes, I found so many delicious, easy bakes to enjoy. There’s something to be said for making dessert recipes that are both simple and satisfying. So why am I so excited about “snackable bakes”?? They’re just as Sheehan describes in her introduction: “…an utterly scrumptious, round-the-clock treat that is quick and easy to assemble, requires limited equipment, and satisfies a sweets craving whenever it hits.” (9)
While there is a time and place for technique-focused recipes, Sheehan has done an excellent job creating recipes that take little time to prepare (nothing I tried took me more than 20 minutes, baked up in an hour or less) and use very few kitchen tools (if you have a bowl, spatula, and whisk, you’re all set!). She is mindful of the time it takes to complete tasks — such as creaming butter — so, instead, many of her recipes rely on vegetable oil with no discernable change to the outcome. The bonus, in a time when grocery bills are rising, vegetable oil is cheaper than butter, so the recipes are more budget friendly. I also appreciated that the recipes rely on pantry staples and, I always had what I needed on hand.
Snackable Bakes is a book full of nostalgia for me — the flavours and textures full of all the homey-goodness I remember from the treats and desserts I enjoyed throughout childhood. To say that the bakes from this book are adored by my family is an understatement! From my mom who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, to some of the others who relish a good treat — like my dad, husband, daughter, and sister — everyone loved this book! With the recipes organized into 8 chapters by flavour — 1) Fruit Forward, 2) (Never Plain) Vanilla, 3) For the Chocolate Lovers, 4) Nuts for Nuts, 5) Dairy Delights, 6) Sweet & Salty, 7) A Little Zippy & a Little Zesty, 8) A Couple of Easy-Peasy Toppings — there is something for everyone!
Tell me if this has happened to you: on a whim you feel like baking something simple (think: cookies, brownies, etc.) and you can’t find an easy recipe or one that you have all the ingredients for. This is how my baking endeavors end before they even begin. So, when I wanted to bake something chocolate-y to send home to my sister, I was pleased to find the recipe for Chewy, Fudgy Brownies because it only took 10 minutes to get it into the baking pan and they are literally (as Sheehan wanted to call them) the “Best Brownies Ever.” When I imagine the perfect brownie, it has all the things: a decadent, chocolate flavour, that crinkly top with the rich and moist chewy centre, and this brownie from Snackable Bakes has all these attributes.
Both my mom and I prefer our baking laden with fruit, so I made sure to try several of the fruit-based bakes while my mom visited. The Strawberry Sheet Cake is the cake I want to be baking all summer long and, when I made it recently, I served it with a thick, strained vanilla bean yogurt which was so delicious! While we enjoyed the generous dollop of yogurt, this cake could be happily paired with a nice scoop of ice cream or pillowy-soft clouds of whipped cream (Sheehan gives a tip to stabilize whipped cream that is genius, but you’ll have to get the book to see for yourself). My mom requested that I bake the Raspberry Crumb-Topped Pie with Easiest Ever Crust and Crumble because her Aunt Grace used to make a raspberry pie that was a favourite. Sheehan’s recipe brought all the memories back to us — this pie made the house smell just like it did when my aunt would bake and, the flavours are a perfect match to how we remember this well-loved pie.
Why wait for a special occasion to enjoy a frosted cake when you can bake the “Shhh, Don’t Tell!” Devil’s Food Snacking Cake with Marshmallow Frosting? The best devil’s food cake I’ve ever made or eaten and with that marshmallow frosting (made with marshmallow crème) it’s even more delicious! Sometimes frosted cakes have that cloying sweetness that amplifies with each mouthful but with this recipe, the cake has just the right amount of sweetness and the perfect cake-to-frosting ratio so that you might take a second piece. And, with it’s modest 8″x8″ size, you could bake this for any occasion — whether it’s for afternoon coffee or the sweet end to a weeknight supper.
I completely agree with Sheehan when she says in the recipe notes for her Butter Cracker Toffee Bark with Toasted Nuts that “Ritz® Crackers are just the best crackers.” It’s the truth and, in this recipe, they make a fantastic base for the bark! Brown sugar and butter are melted in a saucepan until it becomes toffee-like, then, it is poured over crackers that have been placed on a baking sheet. It gets baked for a few minutes before removing it from the oven to then sprinkle chocolate chips over to melt before adding the chopped toasted nuts. It’s everything you want in a treat — buttery toffee, a little cracker crunch, with chocolate and nuts. Yet another family favourite from the book and so easy to pull together!
Snackable Bakes is a joy to bake from and, if you asked any of my family members, they would tell you that it’s equally joyful to eat from! This book would be great to use if you’re baking with kids and, I think it would make a wonderful gift! I appreciate that Sheehan has an excellent understanding of what the home baker wants: uncomplicated recipes that are easy to make, clean up from, and, most importantly, taste delicious! Her enthusiasm for creating satisfying dessert recipes has resulted in a book full of well-tested, “easy-peasy,” delectable bakes.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Countryman Press for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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