We're proud to welcome James Beard Award nominee Stella Parks to Island Books. Stella is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a James Beard Award–nominated writer for Serious Eats. She was named one of America’s Best New Pastry Chefs by Food & Wine. When not at home in Lexington, Kentucky, Stella can be found at the Serious Eats test kitchen in Brooklyn, New York.
In BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, Stella shares foolproof recipes for classic American desserts in her debut cookbook. As Serious Eats’ resident pastry wizard, Stella—known online as “BraveTart”—has devoted her career to the research and recreation of the deliciously memorable sweets enjoyed by countless Americans: beloved classics such as old-fashioned sugar cookies, animal crackers, candy bars, and “Fauxreaos” sandwich cookies. With a historian’s rigor and a scientist’s curiosity, Parks documents the intriguing stories of how our favorite desserts came to be, their inventors and innovators, and the best methods for recreating these tasty classics at home.
In addition to a hundred-plus recipes, Parks investigates the rich backstory and history of treats: the origins of devil’s food cake; the hidden meaning of the word “oreo”; the weirdly vindictive origin of graham crackers; and the marketing-driven machinations that led to key lime pie. As we learn of each dessert’s inception and evolution over time, Parks shows what elements and adjustments work best for modern adoption, utilizing new methods and ingredients while upholding the memorable flavors and textures. As such, Parks argues that what made these classic American treats such strongholds is their malleability: allowing home bakers to make their own, beloved versions. Since half the fun of baking is personalizing a recipe, Parks also includes her own tips and tricks to “Mix it up!” with gluten-free and vegan variations, or ones that add a little extra spice and flair.
BraveTart illuminates our rich culinary past, a must-read for anyone curious about where our favorite childhood desserts came from—and why we still love and crave them today.
“If Stella has a superpower (which I’m convinced she does), it’s her ability to tap directly into those parts of our brains that store our childhood memories, unlocking them and stimulating desires we never even knew we had. . . . Reading and baking from BraveTart is like this, but better, because you’re an adult now and nobody’s gonna tell you how much frosting to put on these cakes.”
—J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, author of The Food Lab
“Intelligent, engaging, inquiring, instructive, and joyous: as befits its subtitle, this is destined, deservedly, to become a truly iconic book.”
—Nigella Lawson, chef and author of How to Be a Domestic Goddess and Simply Nigella
“With her excellent and adventurous palate, inventive mind, and phenomenal baking skills, Stella Parks gives the reader a smart no-nonsense education in baking with a good measure of attitude, loads of encouragement, and plenty of details to ensure success. Refreshing, fun, and inspiring for seasoned and beginning bakers alike.”
—Alice Medrich, James Beard Award–winning author of Flavor Flours and Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies