Mar 6, 2012

Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off: Week 4 Review

This week, our last week, the Joy the Baker bloggers are reviewing Joy's new cookbook available from Hyperion. You can access everyone's reviews by visiting girlichef's JTB Spotlight page.

My immediate response to Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes:

If you're familiar with Joy, you know her peppy, quirky ways. Her personality shines in this book with unexpected pairings like Bacon Black Pepper Waffles, Bacon Peanut Butter Cookies, and Oatmeal Ginger Scones. Phrases like, "Brown butter is one of the best things the world has to offer," "raise your hand if you like booze in your cake!" and "I believe in peanut butter" pop up throughout the book, giving a light-hearted, easy-going feel.

Each recipe has its own intro--where Joy's adorableness will make you smile, nod your head in agreement, and smile some more. Being the kind of person who reads cookbooks like novels, I appreciate when an author takes the time to dig into a recipe and tell me something about it. If it means that much to the author, it will likely mean something to me.

The book is divided into six chapters.

1. Joy the Baker Kitchen Tips
I like that the tips are at the front of the book--not tucked away in the back like an appendix that no one ever reads. Tips range from how to get that bundt cake out of the darn pan, how to make your own brown sugar, to why using cold butter matters.

2. Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes
But wait!  There's more! Scones, muffins, coffee cake, quiche. And many other breakfast items. Three of the six recipes I tried are found in this section. There are many more I plan to try.

3. I Need a Hug or a Brownie. Maybe Both.
When you turn the title page of this chapter, there are the most beautiful chocolate brownie cookies taunting you to stop right there. But if you're like me, you'll want both the brownie (cookies) and the hug.  Joy says this section is all about "super comfort, straight from the oven to your aching heart."

4. Oh, Happy Day!
Packed with fun celebratory food. Classics like Texas Sheet Cake make an appearance, as well as Joy originals like her dainty Mini chamomile Cakes w/ Honey Frosting and her wonderful Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

5. I Think I Just Ate Chocolate for Dinner
If you've spent some time reading Joy's blog, you know she keeps it real. She knows sometimes chocolate for dinner is the way to go. And if that's the path you choose, she isn't going to judge. In fact, she has a chapter filled with ideas for you. Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins. Chocolate Malt Bread Pudding. Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Pops. Just a few suggestions.

6. Have Dessert, Will Travel
Easy, but stunning desserts that travel well. I know the Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies I tried are a crowd pleaser. Peach Cobbler Muffins are one of my "must makes" from this chapter.

The first four recipes I tried were:
Chocolate Fudge Brownies w/ Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Biscuits
Cheddar Chive and Jalapeno Biscuits
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

To finish off the JTB Spotlight & Cookoff, I have two more to share.

If you know how much I love chocolate, it's probably a shocker to find out that Joy's Zucchini & Potato  Pancakes were my favorite. Yes.  I liked them even more than the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  They could very well be the best potato pancakes I've made.  Even The Husband liked them--really, really liked them.  I figured they'd be to girly for him.  I skipped topping with sour cream and used some goat cheese (leftover from the honey/goat cheese biscuits).  We ate them for supper one evening, along with some collard greens from my dad's garden.  But they'd be great at any meal.  With anything.

Mommom's Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread rounds the recipes I tried to an even six (I like even numbers).  This banana bread has a fluffy texture and is full of extras--chocolate and bourbon.  I thought the flavors were very much like Julia Child's Crepes w/ Nutella and Banana.  If you like classic, straight forward banana bread, this probably isn't your thing.  But if you like to get bananas with chocolate and bourbon...

Favorites were...
Savory: zucchini & Potato Pancakes

Sweet: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies (although I have to give an award to Joy's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting as well)

Thank you to Heather @ girlichef for the chance to participate.  Thank you, also, to Hyperion books for sponsoring the event.

Linking with Carole's Chatter where there is a great round up of "Your Favorite Cookbooks."

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Zucchini & Potato Pancakes
from Joy the Baker Cookbook

4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups peeled and grated potato
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Sour creme or creme fraiche, for serving
Paprika and ground cumin for dusting

Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and add onions. Cook onion until it is translucent, then add garlic. Cook for 1 more minute. Place onions and garlic in a small bowl.

Place zucchini and potato along with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a colander over a medium bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, then press down with a clean towel, squeezing out excess of water.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the cooked onions and garlic, zucchini, and potato, and stir together until well combined.

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees F. The oven will keep the pancakes warm as they are being cooked in batches.

In the medium sauté pan used to cook the onions, heat to tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When oil is heated, drop in the batter by rounded tablespoonfuls. Flatten gently with a fork. Cook about 2 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden.  Place on a plate and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Serve with sour cream or créme fraiche and a dusting of paprika and ground cumin. These pancakes are best served immediately, though they can be cooked up and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in a lightly greased sauté pan the following day.

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Mommom’s Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread
from Joy the Baker Cookbook

Makes one 8x4-inch or 9x5-inch loaf
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x4 or 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add bananas, lemon juice, and bourbon. Beat until well incorporated.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips and incorporate the rest of the ingredients with a spatula.

Spoon mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Serve with milky coffee and enjoy.

Banana bread will keep for up to 5 days, well wrapped, at room temperature.  

JTB Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off Banner

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance copy of Joy the Baker Cookbook from Hyperion.  All thoughts written here come from my head and heart.

 *This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*


  1. Ha! I love that you enjoyed the Zucc & Potato Pancakes the most...that's awesome. This was a fabulous review, and I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed the book. Thank you SO MUCH for being a part of this Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off, Michelle =)

  2. Excellent review, Michelle! I'm so glad I got to cook/bake along with you on this one:) Guess what? We're having the zucchini and potato pancakes for dinner tonight and I'm totally hyped! I have a feeling they might be my favorite too. Dare I say I'm more savory than sweet??

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the cookbook and make some of the dishes so you could give us such a good, comprehensive review. I tend to lean towards savory foods instead of sweet so I'm thrilled that your liked the zucchini and potato pancakes! They look delicious.

  4. I definitely MAJORLY adored this cookbook and this spotlight! Awesome review! I believe in peanut butter also :P

  5. Bright , happy and pink are great ways to describe this book and me after baking so much from it :)
    Take care..

  6. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article.

  7. i've been debating on whether to serve the zucchini and potato pancakes or chili cheese fries for dinner tonight...i think the pancakes will win..thanks to your endorsement! it has been fun cooking with you!

  8. Michelle, what a wonderful source of all things cookbook you are. Thanks for linking in.

  9. It is a nice post about this cookbook.If it is Bright,happy & pink then I am sure the cookbook is attractive....found this post via Carole's blog


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