Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review - Sweet and Southern

Introducing Sweet and Southern: Classic Desserts with a Twist by Ben Mims, Rizzoli New York, 2014.  All photography by Noah Feck.


Sweet and Southern is 224 pages of mouth watering Southern delights, accompanied by 100 color photographs that will practically have you wanting to eat the pages.  Author Ben Mims was raised in Mississippi and steeped in the classic dessert traditions of the Deep South.  His experience at Saveur Magazine, as well as stints as an executive pastry chef and recipe developer for both Everyday with Rachel Ray and Southern Living, make him the perfect choice to author a book on southern desserts.

Mr. Mims has successfully modernized many of the traditional southern desserts, tweaking them a bit to cater to modern day tastes and diets that prefer lighter and less sugary treats.  He also blended Southern traditions with international influences, reinventing ageless recipes with fun twists.

(Mississippi Mud Cake)

Sweet and Southern is broken down into six tantalizing chapters....
  • Cakes
  • Pies & Tarts
  • Biscuits, Breads & Pastries
  • Custards & Puddings
  • Cookies & Confections
  • Frozen Treats

(Peanut Butter Cup Smith Island Cake)

Accompanying each recipe is a short story as Mr. Mims charms us with a tale about his relationship with that particular dessert.  He then lists the necessary ingredients and gives a simple, and easy to follow recipe.  And last, but certainly not least, are the gorgeous photo's that accompany most of the recipes.

I'm a big fan of Edam cheese, and these crusty rolls make me want to grab a package of dry yeast and start baking....

(Edam Cheese Rolls)

I have to admit that this next selection intrigued me - Watermelon Gelatin with Sea Salt.  I've never heard of such a thing, but since I love fresh watermelon, I'd be willing to give this taste sensation a try....

(Watermelon Gelatin)

Who can resist Buckeyes, made of cream cheese, peanut butter and chocolate?  Not me!


One recipe that immediately grabbed my eye was Hummingbird Cake.  I've read often about this Southern favorite, but never attempted it.  Well, here was my chance.   Made with bananas, pineapple and pecans, and coated with a cream cheese frosting, it screamed "Make me at once!"

Ok, I am the first to admit that I sorely lack baking skills and truth be told, this recipe called for three 9" cake pans.  Since I only own 2 cake pans, I just improvised and used my two 9" cake pans and a bread pan.   Ok, don't laugh, but I'm very good at going with the flow and there was a method to my madness as you will soon find out.

The Hummingbird Cake was easy to make with clear instructions.  Here's my finished TWO layer version....

As here is the bread pan version which I took next door for my friends to enjoy.  It ain't pretty, but it sure tasted good!  LOL!   Hey, I never said I was a chef.  But I do know what I like and Hummingbird Cake will be made again soon in my house.

Overall, Sweet and Southern earned high points.  There are so many delicious sounding recipes in this book that I cannot wait to try.  Here's a list of some of my favorites....

  • Caramel Cake
  • Black Forest Cake
  • Pound Cake
  • Orange Chocolate Cake
  • Chocolate Cream Pie
  • Southern Biscuits
  • Whiskey Sauce
  • Cornbread
  • German Sugar Bread
  • Orange Rolls
  • King Cake
  • Apple Butter
  • Pancake Syrup
  • Chocolate Bark

And the list goes on and on.  I am almost tempted to even try the Bourbon Fruit Cake.  I've never been a fan, but Mr. Mims makes his version sound so good that I am almost tempted to try.  Almost....

I highly recommend Sweet and Southern as a lovely addition to your cook book collection.  Dozens of tasty recipes grace this book and I guarantee you will spend many a happy hour baking them.  I may have to fight off my daughter for final possession of this book - but I wield the larger rolling pin!

Excuse me while I go eat another piece of Hummingbird Cake.

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.)


  1. Southerners do love their desserts! Some of these look decadent...and good! Hugs!

    1. There are a lot of yummy looking recipes here. :-) xo

  2. Never heard of a hummingbird cake, and I am from the south!! It all sounds yummy! I might have to add this one to my collection!! BTW You should be able to find you some more cake pans at one of your estate sales! :)


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