Wouldn't it be glorious if the parentheses of dinner -- cocktails and dessert -- collided to form one sweet, liqueur-infused moment? In the just-released The Boozy Baker cookbook, that's almost what happens.
Author Lucy Baker (yes, her real name) delivers 75 recipes for spirits-infused cakes, pies, tarts and cookies, along with 25 cocktails. The Serious Eats contributor's book is one of those slim summer numbers -- heavy on the photos, large typeface, and design flourishes. You know, "fun" summer recipes. Like a "dirty Girl Scout" cookie inpired by the cocktail by the same name (Bakers' version of the cocktail recipe is also in the book). And "can't say Nocello carrot cake cupcakes" with Nocello walnut liqueur in both the batter and frosting.
Some days, pontificating on the sweeter points of a Jägermeister and honey bundt cake and its accompanying "honey bear" cocktail (milk, Jägermeister, coffee liqueur, honey liqueur) is exactly what we strive to do. Well, if it wasn't Jägermeister. When we open a baking book, we simply want to bake. And that's our one issue with this baking book.
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The publisher's book catalog declares the "funky cocktails add a punchy complement to many of the recipes." And yes, we get that this is supposed to be a fun summer book, not the next candidate in our annual best baking books roundup. And no, we're not "the pool party is over -- NOW!" summer book spoiler types. It's more that the cocktails are so sappy and/or sweet, and in many cases, almost an exact flavor mirror of the associated cake, they would be the last thing you'd want to drink with said pastry.
That drink accompanying the dirty Girl Scout cookie, a sorority house boozer classic, has similar ingredients as Baker's cookie: Irish cream liqueur, coffee liqueur, crème de menthe. Bourbon, straight up (double shot, please), would be a much more useful suggestion with such a sweet cookie. Or even better, no cocktail suggestion at all. As it's packaged, those cocktail additions sounds like a "latest-trend" sales pitch. And one that doesn't sweeten the book deal.
We'd rather make those hard cider apple pies, strawberry-port linzertortes, and pistachio-coconut madeleines simply because they sound interesting. That's because we agree with Baker about her point in the book's introduction that alcohol "actually improves the flavors of [baked goods] with time" (though we'd add an "often" -- not always -- to that mix).
Tell us more about those specific techniques in the recipe sidebars instead of yet another hot buttered rum cocktail. We all have bottles of bad-idea, saccharin-sweet somethings on our liquor shelves that we have no idea what to do with.