Two years ago, one of my long-cherished goals suddenly blossomed into reality: I was offered the chance to write a cookbook. A great deal of testing, retesting, writing, and rewriting later Field Guide to Cookies emerged.
One year ago, just as the reality that I was now published was sinking in and the sight of my book in bookstores was becoming less surreal, fate came tripping round again: I was asked if I’d like to do a companion piece to my book, on candy.
Today, I’m happy to announce that my second book, Field Guide to Candy, is officially out in bookstores and available online!
Taking on candy was a truly exciting challenge for me. I had learned basic confection-making in pastry school and always wanted to keep expanding my knowledge. The plethora of renowned chocolatiers and candymakers in the Bay Area also served as constant inspiration. I’d take home a box of chocolates from Charles Chocolates or toffees from Fiona’s Sweet Shoppe and dream of reproducing them at home. Now, with the second book, I was able to turn my apartment into a miniature candy factory (sometimes a great thing, other times maybe not so much).
In Field Guide to Candy, I explore 100 candies from all around the world, from fudge to toffee to peanut butter cups to truffles. One of the reasons I think I’ve worked well with the Field Guide format is that I have a natural tendency to categorize things. It’s how I figure things out, by determining how they relate to each other and fit into the big picture. Knowing that toffee, caramels, and taffy are all variants of working with sugar, or that fondant and fudge are based on similar principles suddenly makes it easier to grasp the dizzyingly wide world of sweets.
I’ve tried to break the world of candy into bite-size categories in my book, from chocolates to sugar candies, to even a simple classics section. If you’re wondering if caramel corn, peanut butter balls, and rocky road made it onto the list, be assured these childhood favorites are there.
I’ve also included notes on the all-essential tasks of working with chocolate and working with sugar. Knowing how to work with these ingredients is integral to candy-making, and surely the root of many candy-making fears. I’ve tried to address many of the common pitfalls, and provide guidelines to make tempering chocolate or cooking sugar a snap.
Also, anyone who’s ever had a favorite candy, be it Milky Way or gummy bears or peppermint patties, likely knows there is a fabulously colorful history behind candy. From the origin of saltwater taffy, to Joseph Fry’s creation of the first chocolate bar, to why English toffee and sherbet mean different things in the UK and the US, there are plenty of fascinating stories once you pull back the sugary sweet curtain. Learning about the history behind some of the most well-loved candies was definitely a highlight of the research I did, and I hope that you’ll find the tidbits I share in the book as entertaining as I did.
Finally, in creating the photos for the book, I got a chance to work with Tucker+Hossler, a very talented SF-based team. Their experience in working on cookbooks really shone through as we blazed through a three day photoshoot. I’m really happy with the art direction for this book; as you can see, we got to do a bit more styling this time and come up with some really lovely shots. Just as with the Field Guide to Cookies, there is a photo of every candy in the book!
Most exciting, there’s going to be a party!! if you are in the Bay Area, I’d like to invite you to the book release party for Field Guide to Candy which will be
Saturday, October 17, 2009, 3-4 PM at
3885 Cesar Chavez Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
Omnivore Books is like my my fondest foodie dream realized: a bookstore filled exclusively with books about food. The owner, Celia Sack, knows so much about food literature: the fabulous vintage cookbooks displayed throughout the store are from her collection. I had a great time speaking there last year about my cookie book, and I’m extremely excited to be able to celebrate the release of Field Guide to Candy there! I hope to see you October 17!
Even if you can’t make it, I’d like to thank all my readers for their continued support by giving away two copies of Field Guide to Candy. Just tell me your favorite candy in the comments below, and I will randomly pick two winners at the end of Sunday, October 11. Good luck and happy candy-making!