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Monday, January 26, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 11.0° F  Fair
The Daily
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Cookbook cues: CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life by Jessie Oleson

Cakespy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life (Sasquatch Books, $23) is one of the continuing stream, or flood, of food books by bloggers. CakeSpy chronicles "sweetness in everyday life," with reviews of sweet treat bakeries, interviews with bakers, and recipes, illustrated with fey, whimsical drawings of anthropomorphized cupcakes, milkshakes, whoopee pies and the occasional robot.

CakeSpy's recipes tend to be over-the-top affairs in the mode of Christina Tosi's Crack Pie, although CakeSpy's creations are even more a celebration of, let's not split hairs, junk food. This book presents an onslaught of sugar that can be truly disheartening considering this country's levels of obesity and rates of type 2 diabetes.

So if you wanted to attack the book for that, there's more than enough ammo. CakeSpy, though, just wants to have fun, and I think you have to accept the book on that level. Reader: Don't expect health consciousness and don't make a habit of eating anything here regularly.

However, the intros to the recipes often fall into a chorus of "so bad, but so good," which I find a little trying -- if you're going to write a book that calls for using melted ice cream instead of milk when making instant pudding, just go ahead and revel in it. Because these recipes are ridiculous. I mostly mean that in a good way... cupcakes baked within cupcakes, fudge made with Velveeta cheese, doughnut upside-down cake, even grilled cheese cake -- a slice of cheesecake grilled between two slices of buttered pound cake.

There 's a point at which this fails to be appealing, at least if you're an adult, and the grilled cheese cake is too much for me to have even tried. But the invention here is entertaining. Stuffing a roll of pop-and-bake cinnamon rolls with chocolate chip cookie dough? Not for me but I confess I was intrigued by the cookie cake pie, cookie dough in a pie crust topped with cake batter and then baked and topped with whipped cream. This one can be made with pre-made everything or more laboriously with from-scratch everything. Even with from-scratch everything, this didn't live up to expectations. The train wreck of textures don't mesh; there's a reason that crispy, flaky pie crusts tend to hold creamy or juicy fillings.

Better are the simpler takes, simpler being relative of course, like the salty-sweet brunch cookies, with bacon bits and Grape Nuts, or Pop Rocks cookies, studded with the exploding candy.

So: not for serious cooks or bakers or serious seasonal chefs, but if you're someone who occasionally enjoys indulging the kids, or your inner 12-year-old, this one's sweet.

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