Monday, September 14, 2015

The New Sugar & Spice Is Nice!

As someone who is attempting to eat a healthier diet might, I always feel a bit guilty having dessert. But I love it so! You can imagine my delight in reading Seneviratne's introduction to her wonderful new cookbook, The New Sugar & Spice, and discovering the idea that less sugar + more spices = more flavorful, slightly healthier, and equally or more satisfying dessert experiences. Now here's an "all things in moderation" (the limited sugar) diet idea I can rally behind!

Seneviratne has family in Sri Lanka and spent time there visiting them during her childhood. I love the stories and anecdotes she includes in both the introduction to her book and before each recipe. This gave me the sense I was in the kitchen with a friend who was happily recounting the tales of how the recipe came to her. It also stirred my imagination and wanderlust as I pictured the lush gardens in which her grandparents and their siblings grew the very spices included in so many of the recipes.

The cookbook divides the recipes according to the spice (or spice family) used in the recipes. These are: Peppercorn & Chili; Cinnamon; Nutmeg; Cloves & Cardamom; Vanilla; Ginger; and Savory Herbs & Spices. Each chapter begins with a brief history and geography lesson recounting where the spices originated and grow and their importance in establishing world commerce via the spice trade routes. I found it a fascinating part of the book's charm.

There is a wonderful variety of desserts presented throughout The New Sugar & Spice, including breads and pastries; cookies and cakes; puddings and ice creams; and much more. I found some of Seneviratne's comments about the dishes endearing. She writes of the True Love Cake, "This cake doubles as aromatherapy" (p.66). Regarding the "Bombay Cream" (as opposed to Boston Cream) for her Cardamom Cream-Filled Sugar Doughnuts she says, "Cardamom mixed with cream is one of the loveliest things on the planet" (p. 130). (Having dipped my grandmother's Christmas bread (which features cardamom) in warm milk for a heavenly treat, I'd have to agree!)

The recipes in this book are arranged in a manner that makes it easy to assemble your ingredients and follow the detailed, step-by-step directions. I believe even those without much kitchen experience will find recipes with which they are sure to be successful. Many of the recipes are accompanied by full-page, gorgeous photography that makes you long for a fork and a nibble of the finished product. (S'more Pie, I'm looking at you!)

I'd like to thank Blogging For Books for the ARC I received in exchange for this review. I believe The New Sugar & Spice will be my go-to for desserts for years to come!

From the Publisher . . .

Raise your desserts to a whole new level of flavor with The New Sugar & Spice, a collection of more than eighty unique, unexpected, and uniformly delicious recipes for spice-centric sweets. Veteran baker Samantha Seneviratne’s recipes will open your eyes to a world of baking possibilities: Her spicy, pepper-flecked Chile-Chocolate Truffles prove that heat and sweet really do go hand-in-hand, and a fresh batch of aromatic, cinnamon-laced Maple Sticky Buns will have the whole family racing into the kitchen.

Discover new recipes from around the globe, such as Sri Lankan Love Cake or Swedish-inspired Saffron Currant Braid. Or, give your classic standbys a bold upgrade, such as making Raspberry Shortcakes with zingy Double Ginger Biscuits. Filled with fascinating histories, origin stories, and innovative uses for the world’s most enticing spices—including vanilla, cinnamon, peppercorns, and cardamom —The New Sugar & Spice guarantees that dessert will be the most talked-about part of your meal.

About the Author . . .

SAMANTHA SENEVIRATNE is New York-based food writer, recipe developer, and food stylist. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center and has worked as a food editor in the kitchens of Good Housekeeping, Fine Cooking and Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. She blogs about dessert at Love, Cake (

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