Pros: Easy recipes, inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients, VERY well kitchen-tested, DELICIOUS!
Cons: Your weight, after you start using this cookbook…
Rating: 5 out of 5
First published 4/20/2004
Last holiday season I couldn’t help indulging in a bit of cookbook shopping. For some reason I’d been having chocolate cravings, so I picked up a few new chocolate cookbooks. Since the others were kind of complex, I thought it might be nice to have one that was simple & easy, for throwing things together at a moment’s notice. That’s how I ended up with “Hershey’s Best-Loved Recipes.” I didn’t particularly expect it to be amazing, but I only needed it to be good, quick, and easy.
Well I got amazing instead, and I’m certainly not complaining!
The cookbook is well-laid-out and very easy to use. No scrunched ingredient listings; no directions along the lines of “combine the next six ingredients.” Everything is very clear and simple. There are gorgeous color photos of many of the recipes, making this a mouth-watering cookbook to leave out and glance through over and over again (the only downside is it’ll make you hungry every time!).
The recipes use pretty easy-to-find ingredients. Many of them you’ll find already in your pantry if you do any baking, and if you go through this cookbook and compile a list of frequently-used pantry goods (like sweetened condensed milk, toffee bits, oats, sweetened coconut flakes, nuts, and of course chocolate chips and cocoa), then you can ensure that you can make many of these recipes at a moment’s notice. (Or at least with a quick trip out for cream or cream cheese.) We made the oatmeal toffee bars, for instance, on a whim and without any advanced planning, and they were done in a fairly short amount of time. Most of these ingredients are also inexpensive, so if you want to make impressive desserts on a budget, this is a fantastic way to do it.
Even better, it’s clear that these recipes were extensively kitchen-tested to perfection. Every single one we’ve made so far has come out nothing short of to-die-for. Not a single “eh” or “good, but not amazing,” or even, “really good, but we’ve had better” among them. That’s the part that really shocked me.
This, of course, leads to my one warning about this cookbook: If you are on a diet, do not, under any circumstances, make the recipes out of this cookbook without either an iron will or some friends around to help you eat the results! If we didn’t cut the butterscotch cheesecake into 16 little slices, we’d be packing on the pounds so fast it wouldn’t even be funny. Those oatmeal toffee bars I mentioned were so good that we couldn’t even resist that much–I gave in, said the heck with it, and just kept eating them (next time I’ll plan in advance and take half the batch to our neighbors–no, really, I swear!).
The recipes include:
Cheesecakes: I can’t remember whether we were planning on making the cappuccino-kissed cheesecake this weekend, or the pumpkin cheesecake–well either way we win!
Cakes: the easy harvest chocolate cake uses 3 cups of shredded zucchini, and the cream-filled banana cupcakes look awfully good!
Cookie jar classics: like Heath bits peanut butter cookies, chocolate florentines, and cocoa-walnut crescents. I should note that this isn’t strictly a chocolate cookbook, by the way–it’s more of a generalized simple desserts cookbook with an emphasis on chocolate.
Bar cookies: I can’t wait to make the white chip lemon bars, not to mention the chocolate and pumpkin squares, and I just know we’ll be making those oatmeal toffee bars over and over again.
Dessert creations: mousses, puff pastries, sherbet, crepes, and much more.
The lighter side: in case you really need something that’s lower-fat (and yes the recipes in this chapter do include nutritional info including calories, carbohydrates, and fat, but not fiber). You’ll find everything from orange chocolate chip bread (yum!) to cold chocolate souffles, “fruit in a chocolate cloud”, luscious chocolate cheesecake (which looks, frankly, absolutely stunning!), bar cookies, cupcakes, parfaits, hot cocoa, and more.
Pleasing pies and tarts: “chocolate magic mousse pie” makes me swoon just looking at the picture (and eating it made the picture seem positively tame!), and you’ll also find a wonderful chocolate strawberry fruit tart in here. Wait, maybe we should make the chocolate truffle toffee mousse pie instead, or the chocolate bavarian pie… AAGH!
Tasty treats: Of course a Hershey’s cookbook wouldn’t be complete without fudge, haystacks and peanut clusters, truffles, snack mixes, and more.
Holiday Favorites: Hershey’s certainly knows how to help you impress for the holidays, and I don’t just mean Christmas. You’ll find recipes for Valentine’s day (fudgey Valentine cake), Passover (chocolate almond-orange cake), Easter (Easter baskets and bunnies cupcakes), July 4th (patriotic cocoa cupcakes), Halloween (yummy mummy cookies), Thanksgiving (glazed cranberry mini-cakes), Hanukkah (Hanukkah coin cookies), Christmas (chocolate cake squares with eggnog sauce), and much more.
There’s also a very thorough index to help you find your favorite recipes again. Not that you’ll need to, because you could make an amazing recipe out of this cookbook every week for years without running out of new things to make.
Now if I could only figure out what to make this weekend…