Sweet! SC Home Baking w/ Natural Sugar and Sweetener Mani Niall From Agave to Turbinado


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Sweet!: From Agave to Turbinado, Home Baking with Every Kind of Natural Sugar and Sweetener Paperback
by Mani Niall (Author)

Over the last five-plus years, food manufacturers and grocery retailers have helped to make once-obscure sugars and sugar substitutes like muscovado, turbinado, golden syrup, and agave nectar more readily available to U.S. consumers than ever before. Now Sweet! introduces home cooks and bakers to dozens of traditional and cutting-edge sugars and sweeteners that also include jaggery, panela, molasses, cane syrup, and many others. Drawing upon his years of personal and professional experience cooking and baking with these sweeteners, Mani Niall shows home cooks how to take full advantage of the various tastes and textures they provide with more than 100 recipes for cookies and bars, cupcakes and cakes, quickbreads, custards, pies and tarts, candy, and many other treats that showcase each sweetener’s most distinctive qualities.

“Offers lots of alternatives for bakers who avoid using processed granulated sugar…Should inspire cooks to experiment with more nutritious ingredients.” – Tampa Tribune

“When it comes to the bottom line and the final delicious outcome, the trip to the organic food store proves well worth the effort.” – South Bend Tribune

Niall (Sweet & Natural Baking), expands the world of sweet to home bakers with his extensive knowledge of natural sweeteners and over 100 recipes. Raw sugar such as turbinado, moist brown sugars like demerara and muscovado, and nonsugarcane options like agave syrup and fruit juice concentrates are incorporated in an enticing selection of recipes for cakes, pies, cookies, entrées and more. Niall spans the culinary world with international choices like Thai sticky black rice and mangoes, dulce de leche sandwich cookies and Vietnamese caramel chicken. American favorites such as sweet potatoes with a sorghum glaze, Meyer Lemon Shaker Pi and caramel applesauce cake can also be found. An informative primer and side notes provide additional recipe options, technique tips and nutritional information. This is a unique addition to the baker’s shelf.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books
Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

I wouldn’t have any problem at all with this cookbook if it weren’t for the false advertising in the way it is presented to buyers, that is, that it is somehow going to be helpful to health-conscious cooks. In general, it is extremely well done in that it is filled with gorgeous photos, and there are plenty of interesting dessert recipes. However, I find it impossible to believe that most people wouldn’t purchase this book, as I did, assuming it is going to provide recipes filled entirely with healthier alternatives to white and brown sugar because the back of the book bills it this way: “An essential guide for home cooks curious to experiment with dozens of traditional and alternative natural sugars and sweeteners.”

When I got this book and explored its contents cover to cover, it seemed to me as if all the recipes are in fact not geared toward health-conscious home bakers, but almost entirely toward professional pastry chefs who are into taste and presentation above all, with the health of their customers running a distant second.

I did find the opening section giving a short history of various types of sweeteners to be usefully informative. It explains what the various sweeteners are, where you get them, and how they are best used in cooking. However, because this isn’t a book aimed to the health conscious, these descriptions include little about how the various sugars affect your health. For example, there is only one brief sentence about high-fructose corn syrup, to the effect that “nutritionists claim [it is] one of the main culprits in obesity.” And the author mentions nothing under coconut palm sugar about research claims that it has a low glycemic index.

One exotic, healthy sweetener I was particularly interested in from the description provided is yacon syrup. He mentions that this is a sweetener that raw foods advocates approve of and that it’s vegan. He says he doesn’t use it to cook with, though, because it is so expensive, so he didn’t provide any recipes using this sweetener. He only uses very small amounts poured over uncooked desserts, such as sorbets or raw fruit.

He provides an extensive discussion of various types of flours and how they affect the end result of baking, but nothing about which are better for the health.

He loves to use lots of butter, heavy cream and eggs–which add tons of calories to anything he offers in this book as a recipe. He gives very little information on different types of fats other than to state in one brief sentence that shortening is a problem ingredient because it “has come under scrutiny for its high amount of trans fats,” with no explanation as to why trans fats are bad. He does indicate that palm oil and coconut oil, which solidify at room temperature without hydrogenation, have been found to be healthy saturated fats–though he doesn’t go into details as to why they are healthy, such as coconut oil’s help for thyroid conditions and Alzheimer’s. Nor does he use either of them in any of his recipes.

He doesn’t give breakdown within any of his recipes for calories or grams of protein, carbohydrates or fat.

All in all, if you enjoy creating fancy desserts and you don’t care about calories or health, then you might enjoy this cookbook.

Book is in near mint condition. 1st De Capo printing. Stickers on back cover. 978-1-60094-004-0.


Book is in near mint condition. 1st De Capo printing. Stickers on back cover.