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Do Alice Medrich's Recipes Work?

I know Alice Medrich is known for her very methodical approach to baking and the details she includes about ingredients in her cookbooks, yet I haven't been particularly impressed by the results I've gotten from her recipes. I've tried her chocolate chip cookie recipe from one of her earlier cookbooks, lemon bars and one or two others and they've been real disappointments even though I do read and follow instructions, use specified ingredients, etc. Has anyone tried her new cookie cookbook yet? Have you been pleased with the results?

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  1. I made the brownies with cheesecake/espresso swirl from the new cookie book last week and they were the best brownies I've ever made. Having said that, I also was pressed for space and had to put them in the unheated pantry, effectively refrigerating them overnight before serving. I've never done that before so it could have also made a difference.

    Of course one recipe does not really answer your question, but I am still thinking about those brownies...

    3 Replies
    1. re: colonelcrunch

      Colonelcrunch - did you make the Espresso Swirl Brownies? Did you make it with Steve Ritual Brownies or with Cakey Brownie batter instead? Hope you can remember - I realize this is a very old post!

      1. re: smilingal

        And I have name changed in the interim. I used the cakey brownie recipe and made it as written, only adding some instant espresso powder and taking them out on the earlier side of the baking time. They benefit from being made ahead and refrigerated. I have made the recipe at least 10 times, always a hit.

    2. I've had pretty good luck with Medrich recipes, and particularly like her Pure Dessert book.
      The fruit-but bread is wonderful, and so nice to have around for a last minute cheese plate.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rabaja

        I also particularly like Pure Dessert. I suppose I've made a half a dozen things from it, and the recipes have all worked well and been excellent (my avatar is a plum and almond tart from that book). I've also made a few things from Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts, and while a couple were a bit more finicky, they were all pretty successful. I have the new cookie book, but haven't had a chance to bake from it yet.

        Velda Mae, did you feel the recipes you tried really didn't work, or did you just not care for the end result? Perhaps Medrich's taste just doesn't jibe with your own?

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I've made several of the recipes from Choc. and The Art etc. and liked them, too. I can't find the book right now, but Michael's fudge brownies are really good & easy to make - they've become my standard recipe. I also remember liking the pound cakes that use buttermilk - I think there was a plain and a marbled one.

      2. I've made a bunch of recipes from Pure Dessert, and they always turn out perfectly. It's one of my favorite baking books. The new cookie book has been wonderful as well, based on my experience with making 3 of the recipes and tasting 5 that Medrich made at a cookie class I took in December.

        1. A question I can respond to!

          Years ago I lived in San Francisco when Alice still had her Cocolat stores. Because of that, I bought a copy of the Cocolat cookbook. That is by far the best chocolate cookbook that I've ever run into (haven't kept count, but I've been at least half of the recipes).

          It's one of the small group of cookbooks I have that come across as labors of love for their authors.

          I haven't tried her new cookbook, though; I've run out of local guinea pigs to cook for, LOL. If it's anything like the Cocolat books, it's more than worth it.

          Since you've tried some recipes already, it might be a function of where you live, the type of ingredients available to you, those sorts of things. I know there's the flour thing in the South. And the Bay Area is a pretty humid place.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dg cookin

            I've tried the lemon bar recipe as well as 5 or 6 other recipes from Pure Dessert and I find myself constantly going back to bake them again and again since they always turn out so well. So I guess IME her recipes work.

          2. I've had all of her recipes work out, except for the lemon tart from Pure Dessert. There was about a 1/4 the filling needed. I love the lemon bars, brownies and plum tart from Pure Dessert.

            1. I am trying her sticky pecan bites this morning... report forthcoming! :)

              4 Replies
              1. re: peppermint_sky

                The sticky pecan bites are adorable, delicious little treats! I modified just a little by chopping up my pecans. The dough came together quickly (no yeast in the batter) and then you just roll it out into a rectangle and spread it with the sticky cinnamon filling, then roll up and slice. Each little bun goes into a mini muffin tin, nuts on the bottom (see photos). I will definitely make these again and again. Family members have been requesting another batch since I made these!

                These would be great to serve to weekend guests or anyone stopping by for tea or coffee. They would package up well for a gift, too, but are best enjoyed the day they are baked.

                1. re: peppermint_sky

                  Do you think they would freeze OK? Either before baking or after? I usually have waffles or scones in the freezer but it'd be nice to serve something more glamorous to friends who come over for coffee :-)

                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                    Great question, gimlis1mum! I would think they would freeze fine although I haven't tried it yet. Recently I froze a strudel in phyllo after baking (1st time) and it reheated beautifully. I would say make a batch for your household, eat most, freeze a couple and see how they heat? I am not sure before/after baking. Maybe before to keep them from drying out when reheated?

                    1. re: peppermint_sky

                      heheh...I like the "eat most" part of your suggestion :-)

                      Will have to try them out!

              2. I've used Chocolate many times over the years and have been really happy with the results. The only meh recipes I tried were for brownies, but that's more a result of individual taste and me being super-picky (cuz everyone else loves her brownies).

                I LOVE the new book, and have baked several of the recipes -- highly recommend the chocolate biscotti, lower-fat chocolate chip biscotti, chocolate wafers, oatmeal with coconut, and peanut meringues. After making the chocolate biscotti I've decided to finally give up on brownies -- I may just not like them, period.

                I haven't tried her chocolate chip cookies, but that's one of those recipes, like brownies, that is incredibly subjective. The one I always use is from the Scarffenberger website, and is called something like 'world's best'. They come out the way *I* like them, which is not too sweet, crisp on the edges, and chewy on the inside. I chop the chocolate rather than using chips. I sometimes brown the butter, cool to room temp and proceed with the recipe. YMMV.