Bravetart : iconic American desserts

It is that time of year when many of us want to serve up homemade sweets for family and friends, but the clock is ticking, and what are you going to do?  Is it too late? No, it is not and you can trust CIA-trained, award-winning pastry chef, Stella Parks, who is Senior Editor at  She loves desserts and is here to help all of us make good tasting ones from scratch, and have fun doing it:  "And that's my deal--I love American dessert, in all its cozy splendor, every messy, unpretentious bite."  She wants us to enjoy the process and the product. There are recipes for classic American desserts, many of them commercially produced, name-brand products that we remember tasting oh-so-good years ago. Parks' recipes revive the wonderful flavor, texture and aroma.

Chapters cover the following:  Cookies & Candy; Pies; Doughnuts; Classic American Brands (commercially produced, but these recipes produce a better tasting product) that cover cookies, snacks, puddings, breakfast treats, candies & candy bars; an entire section on Classic American Ice Cream.  Each dessert has the basic recipe, with several variations added, and gluten-free versions where applicable.There is a section on professional baking techniques, ingredients and equipment. She adds her advice on how to measure, sift, incorporate ingredients and prepare baking pans.  The book includes a notable bibliography, an index, and is illustrated with color photographs.

This is a cookbook and a history about classic American desserts. Parks is as passionate about food history as she is about baking. S'mores may be fun around a campfire, however "the chocolate never fully melts." There is a simple solution for making them especially yummy at home, and not that difficult. Perfect fudge? In the book. She pooh-poohs the idea about the history of cheesecake going back to ancient Greece, and roots it in 19th century America. Red Velvet Cake, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies and Cracker Jack are among the commercial products for which she has developed her own recipes. The book can be read sequentially or at random. The writing is humorous and serious, and the recipes have been tested many times over by Parks. This book is a must for those who love to bake and for foodies.

If all copies of the book are checked out, and you are in a pinch for some recipes, there are many other recipes on this website: BraveTart's Recipe Box.  Stella Parks says, "I hope you bake like crazy."