Cookbook Review: Sweet Revenge: Passive-Aggressive Desserts for Your Exes and Enemies by Heather Kim

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw this title on NetGalley, I was intrigued by the title and concept. Baking for your exes and enemies? Why would anyone do that? Kim's intro helps elucidate the inspiration behind the book. Baking can be cathartic, and she encourages the heartbroken to stop moping and start baking, one delicious sweet at a time.

Kim is both a tattoo artist and a pastry chef. This is apparent on every page, with their funky fonts, numerous puns and pop culture references, and copious marginalia. This book aims to entertain as much as it does instruct, and Kim's sassy sense of humor breathes new life into the baking cookbook.

Her recipes are playful and unconventional. You won't find a generic chocolate chip cookie on these pages. Desserts like "Kiss My Molasses", "Stop Texting Me, You Crepe", "Shut Your Cakehole", "Donut Call Me Again", and "What a Pizza Crap" both cracked me up and made me hungry. She finds ways to include such oddball ingredients as Cool Ranch Doritos, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Sriracha. I'm still skeptical about the Flamin' Hot Cheetos; my last experience with the neon red snack was back in elementary school, and I don't remember them fondly. However, her innovative, playful approach to baking is impressive. I found myself turning the pages, eager to find out what kooky concoction would be next.

Lest you think all of her recipes are hipster, junk food creations, she also includes recipes that reflect her background as a pastry chef. Creations like Pear Cheesecakes with Ginger Gastrique and Coeur a la Creme seem ripped straight from an upscale restaurant menu. The fun part of this cookbook is that they sit right alongside recipes like Carrot Cake Truffles with Cool Ranch Doritos Salt and Cap'n Crunch Monster Cookies. That last recipe may or may not be on my agenda for this weekend...

The layout of the book is clear and sensible, and the photography is beautiful. There is a photo of each recipe, often taking up multiple pages at times, which is very helpful if you're still scratching your head over what Cool Ranch Doritos salt is meant to look like. There are a lot of extras, like crudely illustrated baking tools and descriptions of all the types of sugar, flour, and nuts. My main criticism is that these extras can be distracting and bordering on twee. I found myself wishing for less of these extras and a few more recipes as most of her recipes are not designed for the beginner baker anyway. Some of the recipes call for hard-to-find ingredients, such as pandan extract, coconut flour, and cocoa nibs, while others call for the aforementioned junk food items that I personally don't keep in my pantry. As a result, while the recipes are fun, I don't think this would be the first book I would reach for when baking.

I'd recommend this book for anyone who finds that they are bored by your traditional cookbooks or for a baker who has conquered the staples and wants to bake things more outside the box.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

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