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101 Gourmet Desserts for the Holidays

This cookbook was reviewed by Shelley of C Mom Cook.

What is your favorite part of Fall? For some it is the cooling of the weather. For some it is the changing of the leaves. For me, it’s the food. There are certain flavors that are classic Fall flavors and, while you can find and enjoy them year round, they taste the best in the Fall.

The only way to make Fall flavors even tastier is to blend them right in with the upcoming holidays. Which is what is so exciting about 101 Gourmet Desserts for the Holidays. In this fun collection from Wendy Paul, each page brings a new way to deliciously celebrate the Fall and the holidays that are right around the corner.

This book has something for everyone, at every baking skill level and for every taste preference. With sections devoted to fruity desserts, chocolate sweets, nutty treats and more, this book is fun to flip through and easy to follow. And with so many amazing looking treats to choose from, it was hard to decide where to begin!

The first recipe that I tried was the Southern Apple Cake, since apple picking is such a big part of our family’s Fall tradition. This cake was very easy to pull together and it baked up like a dream. Dotted with delicious pieces of granny smith apples, this is a true treat. And to make it even better, Ms. Paul recommends topping the cake with butterscotch sauce, a recipe she lists later in the book. Trust me – you want to follow that recommendation. The sauce is super easy to make and it tastes amazing – especially paired with the cake.

Aside from apples, my favorite Fall flavor is pumpkin, so it’s no wonder that I tried out several of the pumpkin recipes in this book. The first one that I tried were the Autumn Pumpkin Cookies. Packed with pumpkin, applesauce and oats, these cookies make a guilt free after-school treat or even a special breakfast to surprise the kids! And without milk or egg, these are a naturally vegan treat! I wasn’t sure quite how big to make the cookies, as the recipe jumps from preparing the batter to baking the cookies, so I guessed, scooping each to be about a tablespoon, and that worked out really well. They needed to bake for a couple more minutes than the 9-11 indicated in the recipe, but the results were great.

As I mentioned before, this book contains recipes for bakers of all skill levels. Some of the cake and cupcake recipes start with boxed cake mixes, making them super easy for even beginner bakers. I tried the Pumpkin Streusel Cupcakes, which begin with a boxed spice cake mix. These cupcakes were a huge hit with my family and neighbors. The thick batter baked up nice and high, and the simple streusel topping added a deliciously sweet crunch which was the favorite of most of the kids. Again, I needed to bake the cupcakes for a couple more minutes than the 12-14 listed in the recipe, but, in this case, I might have overfilled my cupcake liners. Either way, these made a delicious treat full of pumpkin-y goodness.

Before completing my trial of this cookbook, I had to move on to another section – chocolate. There were so many delicious options to choose from, but, again, I am stuck on the Fall flavors, so I chose to try the Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies. Ms. Paul indicated that the pumpkin flavor in these brownies was subtle, but adds a richness to the brownie. The brownies baked up a bit cakier than I expected, but the richness was definitely there. I also tasted the pumpkin in each bite, so I wouldn’t describe it as subtle, but it worked very well. In fact, when I make these again, I think I will add a dash of cinnamon to the batter, as well, to enhance both the chocolate and the pumpkin flavors.

More than just recipes, this book also includes ideas for decorative treats for each of the upcoming holidays, from Halloween ghosts to Thanksgiving turkeys to Christmas trees.

From cookies to cakes to ice cream, and even to a white chocolate cranberry creme brulee that I can’t wait to try, this cookbook is a true dessert celebration of Fall and the holidays. Fun to look at and inspiring to work with, this book and these recipes will be favorites in my house for many holiday seasons to come.

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