Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cox, Cookies and Cakes Cookbook Review

During my cupcake filled visit to London last month I visted Cox, Cookies and Cakes which I wasn't too impressed with unfortunately. I've been sitting on the book for a while and it didn't fill me with confidence about the results. I love Eric Lanlard and the shows he does on Channel 4 so it was a shame that the cupcake I tried didn't live up to my expectations.

If you've ever been to the shop or seen it online then you'll know that the book design matches perfectly - very neon and camp. There are recipes for 'Cheeky Cupcakes' and 'Titty Cupcakes' which are slightly disturbing! These sit side by side quite uncomfortably with 'Hedgehog Cupcakes' and 'Bunny Cupcakes'. Not sure why you'd include children's cupcakes into such a book, they might as well stick with their theme rather than sticking something in the book for everyone.

The book is split into 7 chapters including 'Nutty and Chocolatey Cupcakes', 'Rich and Spicy Cupcakes' and 'Styling Cupcakes'. There are some really tempting flavours and there are full page photos for most recipes. One thing that drives me mad about this book is that a lot of the pages are black. Looks really stylish until you start using the books and you get greasy fingers marks everywhere! I like my books to stay quite prestine so this is an issue!! Must be a librarian thing!
The decorating section is informative and there are lots of little pictures showing you step by step instructions. This definitely makes some of the mould work and piping look more feasible, plus now I know where to get a skull and crossbone chocolate mould from! Woo! There's an effect I definitely want to try with bubble wrap and chocolate - impressive honeycomb patterns once the chocolate sets. Brilliant!

I've been meaning to make Lemon Meringue Cupcakes for a while so I thought I'd make them for my birthday as no-one else was going to :-( Woe is me!! I halved the recipe as I didn't want 12 but the mixture only made 5. The book specified muffins cases were used throughout and I don't think my cases were any bigger.

This was my attempt at recreating the spiky meringue that Eric did! Oh well! Still not very good with an icing bag and I don't think my meringue was solid enough despite much electric whisking!

So instead the rest of the cupcakes looked like this! Not too shabby for a lemon meringue cupcake though. I was very impressed with the recipe, the cake came out beautiful and light, just enough tang from the lemon zest and then the crunchy but fluffy-centred meringue. Really tasty! The lemon curd all fell to the bottom but that didn't matter too much. Am excited to make these again in the future - yum!

I had 2 egg whites in the freezer (which defrosted beautifully - I will never waste an egg white again!) and only needed 1 so I made the rest into meringues which disappeared in an instant! Thought I'd jazz them up a little with some food colouring, minimum effort and pretty results I think.

Now stupidly, I made some cookies from the book to take to work but I forgot to photograph them. Duh! I made the Orange & White Chocolate Chip Cookies which smelt incredible and tasted great too. They did come out very soft but they were supposed to be a softer cookie. One thing I would have liked was a size guide for the orange, they can really vary in size and I had a pretty big one but all the recipe said was "one orange". You could really taste the fresh orange though and they went down very well with my colleagues. They were successful at home too so I will certainly be making more of the cookie recipes - the Black Forest Soft Cookies are for me I think! The bar recipes sound good too, Maple Pecan Sticky Bars sound pretty amazing.

Overall I really liked the book. I was afraid it would be style over substance but I was much more impressed by the recipes than the design. I think the childish elements should be removed and maybe fewer black pages. I'll be interested to see if another cupcake recipe makes the same amount of cakes. The variation of flavours makes this a really great book for someone wanting to try something more interesting than a vanilla or chocolate cupcake. How about Apple Crumble, Pistachio & Praline or Liquorice? Yes please!