Reviewer’s Note: Review copy of the book discussed here was provided to me at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion.
Adulthood has many advantages. More than a few of these are directly related to the freedom to put into our adult bodies things that get denied to younger folks. This recipe book by Autumn Skoczen, proud owner of Cleveland, Ohio dessert shop Auts Tipse Treats, celebrates that freedom on two fronts, not only detailing a variety of indulgent sweets that most kids would no doubt devour with impunity if left alone with them, but enhancing said desserts with alcoholic beverages running the gamut from liqueur to grain whisky.
Written with a generous dose of humor, the book begins by offering a few pointers bound to be helpful to anyone unaccustomed to infusing desserts with booze. Among these are tips and remedies for cooking projects that don’t come out right on first attempt, a word about the different categories of alcohol, and a basic primer outlining potential hazards of baking with alcohol, relative to the temperature at which it boils and how it interacts with sugar during the baking process. Those latter two points are the reason the author, notably, tends to add alcohol to her recipes after baking is completed, so that none of it burns away during cooking.
As for the recipes, one can expect to find proven favorites like Classic Rum Raisin sharing space with innovations like vodka-infused Chili Chocolate Cupcakes. Fun cocktail reinterpretations like Skoczen’s Mimosa Cupcakes (made with champagne and an orange zest garnish) and luxurious inclusions like Red & Black Velvet or French Toast Maple Bacon Cupcakes also await industrious bakers amidst its pages. Change-ups for old non-cupcake standard-bearers include marshmallows infused with Bailey’s Irish Cream, pudding converted into vodka- and Kahlua-enlivened shooters sure to be the envy of Spring Breakers everywhere, and a slushie spiked with coconut rum and orange vodka. In short, no stone is left unshaken, unstirred, or unturned in this book that while primarily focused on cupcakes, affords fair attention to fillings, frosting, and more.
I found hardly any quibbles or bourbon-soaked bones to pick with this book. Apart from a mild misstatement encountered early in the read, all was well, and delivered with obvious affection for both baking and alcohol consumption. The misstatement in question occurred where the author claims that both beer and wine are typically less than 10% alcohol by volume. While this is generally true of beer, a still wine’s ABV can range anywhere from 8-15%, though most tend to hew closer to the 12.5-14.5% range (this excludes fortified wines which are known to pack significantly higher alcohol levels). Go ahead and call me a wine nerd, a cork dork, or any other pejorative reserved for oenophiles with too much time on their hands, but this momentarily rankled the stickler in me, even though it admittedly is mentioned a single time and neither impacts nor detracts from the remainder of the text at all.
Positive takeways from this book, on the other hand, were plentiful. I like that while the author emphasizes the importance of adhering to certain standard guidelines regarding ingredients and proper proportions, she also not only leaves room for one to experiment, but encourages it, based on factors like home environment and available equipment as one grows more comfortable with preparing alcohol-infused confections. It’s worth noting that in some cases, it’s not the cupcake, but the frosting or filling that gets alcohol-infused. This not only leaves room for teetotalers to enjoy the undressed versions of several cupcake recipes, but also avoids alcohol overkill of having both the frosting and the cake drips with ethanol.
This read balances helpful, thorough information with an easy, kinetic writing style that displays an affectionate respect for its subject matter without taking it more seriously than necessary. Tipsy Treats is bound to be useful to anyone seeking to impart a level of adult sensibility to their standard dessert repertoire. It is currently available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Hardback: 128 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing