Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cookbook Review - Sweet & Skinny

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blackberries
When I first received a copy of Sweet & Skinny by Marisa Churchill, I will admit to being a bit skeptical. I have seen too many low-fat or low-calorie dessert cookbooks that take abundant advantage of tasteless items like Cool Whip Free and artificial sweeteners.

Instead, Marisa Churchill plays with texture and flavor and freshness and creates elegant, tasty desserts that you wouldn't even have to excuse to your guests.

I had my eye on several recipes in the cookbook that I plan to make at a later date, and was largely constrained by a feeling of seasonality, but damn if that pear and chocolate gingerbread upside down cake from the holiday section not call my name! The recipe I have dogeared to try in the not too distant future are the strawberry-black pepper meringues.

Deconstructed Key Lime Pie
I couldn't resist making two very summery, fresh tasting recipes from Sweet and Skinny. First I made the Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Berries. I used local blackberries I bought at a market in Brevard, NC, that were just dying to be treated with respect. I also finally accomplished my goal of substituting agar agar powder for gelatin with a good result. Gelatin is a pretty frequent ingredient recipe throughout the book to help with mouth feel without adding fat, but as a vegetarian I don't eat it. Luckily there are sea-vegetable substitutes.

The second recipe I made was the Deconstructed Key Lime Pie. I tweaked a few things there too, since I had a whole bottle of key lime juice, I went straight (and it was tart!). I don't miss the crust. Would anyone? I also just left the gelatin out of the egg whites for the topping, since I was going to be serving it right away.

I'm looking forward to making more out of this book, and adopting some of the tricks in some of my usual recipes.

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