A new cookbook called The Worry-Free Bakery arrived in Eating...Our Words' inbox the other day. It both promoted the worth of sweet desserts, and promised recipes that were fat free.
Author Kumiko Ibaraki, a former public health nurse who left nursing to go to culinary school, later founding a culinary school of her own, has re-made a bunch of popular recipes to lower their fat.
Sugar, that's a-ok in Ibaraki's book. In fact, as she puts it: "Most people think of sugar as fattening, but it's okay. Your body burns it off fast so it's a safe ingredient to use. Your body can easily break down the sugar and convert it into energy."
She goes on to say that sugar "helps raise serotonin levels in your brain, which helps stabilize your mood.
"So, with that knowledge, be at ease and make as many treats as you want for you and your family."
Okay, seems like maybe we left the planet here (a planet where a whole bunch of hyper, obese kids live), but the photos are great, the instructions clear and the food looks delicious. So we turned the cookbook over to the Houston Press resident master baker, Babbette Sandoval, who a day later showed up with a tray of treats.
"I think they're okay," she said, "but I have to warn you, they do taste healthy."
Which is pretty much what all our amateur tasters from the newsroom said, although there was a huge range of reaction from one extreme - the taster who spit her pastry back into a napkin on second bite and threw it into the trash saying she wouldn't eat that -- to the self-avowed health food eater who pretty much liked it all.
This was the crowd favorite that didn't seem to depart too much from a real (with fat) Florentine. The white cake flour was covered with a mixture of honey, condensed milk and almonds. One asterisk: Sandoval used non-fat sweet condensed milk (which she had on hand) instead of regular sweet condensed milk.
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"The Florentines tasted surprisingly somewhat like real Florentines and were the only food in the batch that I could eat without feeling I needed milk, water or extra saliva to wash it down. Two thumbs up."
"The texture of the apple muffins was so unexpected for a muffin. Too unfamiliar. I would not eat those again."
"The chocolate twists taste too healthy and not chocolate enough. I would eat those again if I was on a diet."
And some overall comments: