Friday, 10 January 2014

Book Review: The Vintage Sweets Book

I was so excited to be sent Angel Adoree's latest offering, The Vintage Sweets Book, for review.  Owner of The Vintage Patisserie, I already have her first two books, The Vintage Tea Party, and The Vintage Tea Party Year, and was intrigued at what delights she'd come up with this time around.  The book I was sent is in a 'mini' version, half the size of the first two books, but it still delivers a spectacular visual feast.

In the past I've attempted, and more often than not failed, at making some sweets, such as fudge, cinder toffee, and peppermint creams, and I was pleased to see that rather than diving straight into the recipes, Adoree takes the trouble to explain the science behind sweet making, describing in detail the different stages sugar passes through as it's heated and manipulated.  The equipment needed is also outlined, and if on flicking through the book you wonder something along the lines of 'Where on earth do I find violet syrup?', there's also a section on sourcing your ingredients, with a few handy stockists listed.  In my mind, the only omission in the behind-the-scenes section is information on gelatine alternatives, as it's not mentioned at all that sweets with gelatine in are not suitable for vegetarians.  It would be perhaps helpful to hear about some gelatine alternatives that are good quality, as I know they do vary.

So, that's all the practicalities sorted, what about the recipes themselves?  The sweet recipes include old favourites (often with a bit of an odd twist in how they're presented) from love hearts to sugared mice, parma violets and jazzies.  If you're feeling brave, you can have a go at getting the sugar up to the highest of temperatures and make toffees, rhubarb and custards and more.  I was hoping that my personal favourites, turkish delight and nougat, would be at the beginner's level, but after reading the recipes and ingredients lists, those might have to be saved for a later time when I've built up my basic sugar handling skills.  The only thing I think is missing is some kind of indication of how skilled you need to be for each recipe - maybe something to mark if it's easy would help it feel slightly less daunting.

Those who prefer to imbibe their sweets in liquid form won't be disappointed with the selection of cocktails that have been sneaked in among the sweetie recipes - Rose Lollipop, Gin Fizz, Parma Violet, and Rocktail are some of the suggestions.  I tried a version of the Rose Lollipop and Gin Fizz, and both were delightful.  (As a slight aside, I get my rose syrup from the world food aisle of Asda, it's a violent pink colour and full of sugar but is very cheap, compared to the clear, more delicate syrup found in specialist food stores.  If you're not sure if you like rose in your drinks or sweets, I'd try out the cheaper version first so you are not wasting too much money.)

As with Adoree's previous books, the featured recipes and concoctions range from the kooky to the downright weird (anyone remember the 'Salad Cemetery'?!), but her exquisite eye for detail and Alice in Wonderland type imagination are what set her books apart from the raft of pretty cupcake books that flooded the market after the vintage bandwagon was fully rolling.  By avoiding the saccharine (sorry!) cliches, Adoree's world is one that is much more inclusive, appealing to all of our imaginations on some level.  I get the impression that Adoree is a consummate hostess, who is used to ensuring that every boy, girl, woman and man is happy at her parties.

Overall, this is a whimsical, thoughtful book that manages to make your eyes and your mouth water at the same time.  I for one can't wait to see what Angel Adoree's next book will be - a cocktail one just for grown ups perhaps?  We can but hope!

The fabulous Angel Adoree
Photo credit: The Vintage Patisserie

The Vintage Sweets Book by Octopus Books is out now with a RRP of £12.99 for the mini version, £16.99 for the large format.  Please note, I was sent the book for review, but all opinions are my own!


  1. Lovely, thorough review of this delicious looking and sounding book. I've dabbled in candy making many times of the years (especially for the winter holidays) and really enjoy it, so I'd be keen to pick up a copy myself one day.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Apologies if this is written twice! Ii had no idea you had a blog and I'm looking forward to reading through your past posts. Love Vikki x

  3. Gosh, that book looks adorable and so helpful. I am a hopeless cook in the kitchen, but I love all sorts of books and can see myself simply enjoying a beautiful one like that.♡

    bonita of Lavender & Twill


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