Today’s baker faces a great challenge: With little time and a limited repertoire, she often needs to whip up a delicious dessert that’s dressed to impress. Rachel Schifter Thebault, founder and head confectioner of Tribeca Treats in New York City, knows all about making a sweet statement. Combining a confectioner’s expertise with fashion sense, she shares a scrumptious cache of popular dessert recipes that can be accessorized to fit any occasion.
What’s more, transforming a basic dessert into a masterpiece brimming with personality and flair can be easy, quick, and fun. In the same way you’d plan an outfit, Sweet Chic pieces together a Devil’s Food Cake—the little black dress of delights—with such irresistible accessories as Caramel Buttercream (think knee-high boots) for ultimate decadence, turns Vanilla Cookies (the crisp oxford shirt) into Strawberry “Shortcakes” ideal for casual or dressy occasions, and blends brownies (the cashmere sweater of confectionery) with a swirl of mint for a showstopping number.
Gorgeous and appetizing color photos throughout reveal how a change of icing here and a substitute topping there can take a simple dessert from Sunday brunch to a date-night treat. Mix and match more than seventy recipes for cookies, cakes, and confections, including Peanut Butter and Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, Brownie Sundae Parfait, Mini S’mores Cupcakes, Wasabi-Black Sesame Truffles, and so much more.
Whether you’re a novice baker hoping to master the basics or an experienced one looking to add a little versatility to your existing creations, Sweet Chic is a clever and practical guide for memorable desserts, a one-sweet-fits-all way to make a tantalizing impression.
Foreword by Isaac Mizrahi
From the Hardcover edition.
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About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
Since opening my bakery, Tribeca Treats, in January 2007, I have noticed a distinct pattern. Many of my customers rush in, harried, after work or with kids in tow, needing something last minute for a dinner party, cocktail party, or birthday celebration. They always meant to make something at home, but they either ran out of time or are tired of making the same dessert over and over. I too have experienced this feeling of frustration. Prior to baking professionally, I was an investment banker and now I am a working mother of two, so I know all about time constraints when it comes to baking and entertaining at home.
As the owner of a bakery that focuses on treats for entertaining or gift-giving purposes, I admit that I often benefit from my customers’ predicament. But from one busy baker to another, I have walked in your shoes, and I developed this book as a way to help those of you in need and to inspire those of you who bake regularly. My philosophy of baking is simple and comparable to the advice of many fashion experts: Use a little black dress (and a few other staples) as the foundation of your wardrobe and change the accessories to dress it up or down. In a similar way, you can master some basic recipes or techniques and create the foundation for multiple desserts. By making simple alterations to how a base dessert is finished or served, you’ll have a complete “wardrobe” of desserts to outfit any occasion.
Take chocolate cake, for example. Typically a cookbook will pair a recipe for the cake with a specific type of icing. You make that recipe once and like it, but then, when you need a cake for a friend who likes darker chocolate, you’ll search your cookbooks for another recipe, having no guarantee that an unfamiliar recipe will still be a success. Sweet Chic offers one base recipe for a chocolate cake batter and provides alternative baking methods and a variety of icing suggestions. You can now create anything from traditional birthday cake to whimsical mini cupcakes to a romantic cake for two without having to stray from your comfortable cake recipe. The cakes and icings in this book can be mixed and matched in over fifty delectable combinations.
Everything in this book is ordered by degree of difficulty. There are three main sections: Cookies are generally easiest to master because they are most resilient to mistakes (such as undercooking or overmixing). Your cakes and icings will be a success once you are comfortable with the basic mixing techniques you learned in the cookies section. Finally, chocolate work requires more finesse than both cookies and cakes, as well as some specialty equipment, so that section appears last in the book.
Each section is divided into chapters that are also ordered by degree of difficulty. For example, the cakes section begins with a Devil’s Food Cake base, which can be mixed by hand in one bowl, so that it requires minimal equipment. The icings are grouped separately at the end of the section, with the most simple, Vanilla Icing, kicking those recipes off.
Additionally, all of these recipes in the book can be made, in whole or at least in part, in advance of when you need them. Cookie doughs can be made and then chilled or frozen before they are baked. Cakes can be baked one day and then iced the next. Breaking down recipes into easy-to-follow steps can help immensely as you try to accomplish all your party planning, bits at a time, after work or after you’ve put the kids to bed.
Sweet Chic aims to make homemade desserts both practical and doable, despite your busy schedule.
LESS IS MORE
At Tribeca Treats, we offer smaller-size desserts so that our customers can satisfy their sweet tooth without overindulging. A plate of elegant cookies or mini cupcakes at the end of a meal goes a long way toward letting your guests linger over conversation and their last glass of wine. Everyone leaves the meal satisfied and happy—especially the successful host!
Many of the recipes in Sweet Chic are based on the “small bites” philosophy and are portioned accordingly. In general, the truffles are bite size, the cookies and mini cupcakes are portioned for one or two bites, and the standard cupcakes are portioned to roughly 2½ inches in diameter. Applying this same philosophy in portioning cakes, I recommend cutting them into 1-inch slices for a three-layer cake or 1½-inch slices for a two-layer cake. Using these portions, a three-layer 8-inch cake will feed twenty to twenty-four people.
Keep this in mind when calculating your quantities for serving: I usually recommend two to four chocolates, cookies, or mini cupcakes per guest; one to one and a half standard cupcakes per guest; or one individual dessert or slice of cake per guest.
USE YOUR IMAGINATION
Just as you wouldn’t wear clothing only as you saw it worn in a magazine, you aren’t expected to make these recipes only one way. These recipes are intended to be used as a guide. Once you are comfortable with standard combinations, you can feel free to mix and match them with other favorite recipes. Each base recipe is like a wardrobe staple that can be worn many different ways and never goes out of style.
I also encourage you to broaden your base of desserts. A wardrobe consists of many different basic elements, not just multiple versions of a little black dress. Similarly, we often learn several different recipes for one dessert (such as the chocolate cake, for example), when our time may be better spent learning a new but similar recipe (such as carrot cake) and just dressing up the chocolate cake differently each time it is served.
At Tribeca Treats and in Sweet Chic our signature flavors start with dessert fare classics but are given a sophisticated twist. You’ll find childhood favorites such as s’mores or cookies and cream packed into an array of cakes and confections, ranging from basic to more adventurous.
Once a year at the bakery we hold our Cupcake Flavor Competition. Customers submit hundreds of creative suggestions, and they’re surprisingly easy to put together. Past winners include the Tiramisù, Rocky Road, Berry Berry Good, and Sassy Pumpkin—all made from simple variations on existing recipes and combinations. While a certain amount of precision is involved in creating the bases for your baked goods, you can really use your imagination with add-ins and finishing touches to create endless varieties of cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and confections.
The recipes in this book are designed for a range of skill levels. Aspiring bakers will be able to practice basic techniques that are common to many pastry recipes and learn to apply them in creating their own dessert varieties. Practiced pastry cooks will be inspired by new ideas on ways to use favorite recipes. It is my hope that no matter what your skill level, you will create a variety of tempting treats and have fun in the process.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There are few pastimes that can compete with my love of books, but baking is one of them. The premise of this cookbook seemed rather unique, as it attempted to combine baking with fashion. There is even a delightful foreword by Isaac Mizrahi to further the theme. The author, Rachel Schifter Thebault, runs her own bakery, Tribeca Treats, out of New York City, and this is her debut cookbook.The book opens with an explanation of Rachel's philosophy of baking. In the same way that a woman uses a little black dress as the foundation of her wardrobe, using accessories to dress it up or down, so too can a baker take a basic recipe for the base of a dessert and use simple alterations to create a complete "wardrobe" of desserts for any occasion. Chocolate chip cookie dough becomes white chocolate coconut cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, snickerdoodles, or anything else a cook can dream up with a change in mix-ins. I used the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and substituted in chocolate chips, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and they came out perfect!The book is divided into three sections: Cookies, Cakes, and Confections. Each chapter in the three sections feature a basic recipe to build on, with names such as "The Crisp Oxford Shirt," "The A-Line Skirt," and "The Leather Jacket." Following the basic recipe of each chapter are several more example recipes of how to alter the base recipe to fit your needs. Vanilla Cake becomes Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, and Basic Tempered Chocolate becomes Cranberry Almond Bark.The detail that Rachel goes into is also quite impressive. The beginning of the book teaches the basics of baked goods by reviewing all of the major ingredients used in baking - things like eggs, cocoa powder, and extracts - as well as essential equipment used, like a cake turntable. She then goes into the basic techniques of baking, simplifying them for even the most amateur of novices, and provides a pictorial guide for icing a cake and dipping things in chocolate. Each recipe is provided with very specific details on how to perform each step, as well as ideas at the end on how to dress it up further.I loved this cookbook, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in baking, from the amateur to the experienced baker.
As soon as I received my copy of Sweet Chic, I squealed a little. I must admit that I am a cookbook collector, a fanatic, a freak. You may enjoy your glossy mags, but I enjoy my cookbooks. While light on pictures (not all recipes have an accompanying picture), the inside of the cookbook is just as fabulous as the outside. The layout is truly a visual delight with its quirky and fun text elements.The cookbook opens with a text foreword from Isaac Mizrahi and introduction by Ms. Thebault. It then segues into some basics: ingredients to have on hand and quality, equipment, techniques, and storage information. For example, an excerpt of the dairy section in ingredients: ¿DAIRY Using a lower-fat version for any dairy ingredient will significantly alter the texture and consistency of your baked goods. Therefore, stuck with butter, whole milk, heavy cream, or other ingredients as directed.¿ It then jumps right into your everyday and weekend wear: cookies. Scooped cookies, considered the white t-shirt, include basics such as chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin, and two more. Thumbprint cookies, considered the chunky cardigan, include peanut butter and chocolate thumbprints as well as two others. Vanilla cookies are likened to the crisp Oxford shirt and include three variants. This theme goes on with more cookies, brownies, graham crackers, cakes, cupcakes, pies, icings, ganaches, buttercream, chocolates, barks, truffles, and caramels.I found it interesting how Ms. Thebault compares the different recipes and their variants to fashion and outfits. She ¿dressed up¿ her desserts with the variants just like you¿d add a scarf to an outfit. (Well, I wouldn¿t, but then I¿m notoriously fashion ignorant.) The ingredients are also not exotic, which was nice, because I had most of them on hand for when I whipped up a couple of the recipes to test them out.I selected three recipes to try (Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vanilla Cookies, Fudgy Brownies). Each turned out very tasty and the brownies were quite visually appealing. This is a cookbook for a beginniner, so don¿t expect advanced recipes; however, it is a decent introduction to baking or even just a reference to whip up something simple for that party you forgot you were attending.Thank you Ms. Thebault.Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Sweet Chic by Rachel Schifter Thebault free from Ballantine Books through the FSB Media review program. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. The opinions I have expressed are my own and no one else¿s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission¿s 16 CFR, Part 255 : ¿Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.¿
This is a beautiful cookbook! A pleasure just to look at! The photography is amazing! There are many color pictures of recipes so you can clearly see the finished product. I enjoyed the analogy the author used with baking and our wardrobes. We have basic foundational pieces to our wardrobes and how we accessorize will depend on how dressy our outfit is. Using this idea she takes basic recipes and ‘dresses” them up. I like this because with one recipe I could make something quick and simple or something very special. The book is divided into 3 sections, cookies, cakes and confections. For example the first recipe is for “scooped cookies” and she calls it the “White t-shirt”. This book would be great for a beginning baker or an experienced one. I appreciated how the author had a Home Ec 101 baking at the beginning of the book. She explains essential ingredients and equipment, how they work and tips in working with them. Although I have baked for many years I learned some new things. Each recipe gives step by step instructions that are clear and easy to understand. At the end of many of the recipes is “Polish Your Look”, showing you variations you might use, or “Fashion Emergency” which shares baking tips. A cookbook you will definitely want to own. I was very impressed. Thanks to FSB Media for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.