Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Icing on the Cupcake by Jennifer Ross

Find it in the catalog!

Ansley is engaged to her college boyfriend, Parish, and is about to graduate and embark on a life she's always dreamed of having. But when Parish breaks off their engagement after witnessing Ansley's cruel treatment of a sorority sister, a depressed Ansley writes to a grandma she's never met, Vivian, who lives in New York City. Vivian left her husband Asher and daughter, Hattie, when Hattie was 5 years old, and married businessman Charlie, who has now passed away. Against the wishes of her mother, Ansley moves from Dallas to New York, where Vivian tells her to move on (Ansley still feels Parish will take her back). In order to continue living with her grandmother, Ansley must find a job within 8 weeks, which Ansley isn't prepared for. She feels out of place in the city-- instead of wearing dark colors she wears heels and bright outfits, and she smiles and looks people in the eye, while they avoid her. An especially funny scene is when, after a long night of marathon cupcake baking, she takes her baked goods to Central Park to get people's opinions. The passerbys ignore her and are suspicious about why she is giving away food for free. A bright spot is her friendship with Dot, who gives Ansley tips about fitting in in NYC and also helps out when Ansley decides to combine her business degree with her passion for baking cupcakes to open her own cupcake shop. By undertaking the opening of her own business, Ansley commits herself to hard work and in the process changes into a kinder person who doesn't need a man in her life to be happy.

This is a fun book to read for anyone who enjoys baking. Ansley arranges ingredients on the kitchen counter and formulates recipes to help calm herself down, and it's intriguing to read her thought-processes for formulating new recipes that reflect her feelings. The end of each chapter includes a cupcake recipe with delicious-sounding names. Seeing Red and Tasting Chocolate, or Shot Through the Heart with Cream Cheese Frosting; Taste of Summer the Way it Used to Be--Peachy with Praline Topping; and Bittersweet Paris with Orange Frosting are just a few examples. Many of the recipes are referred to in the plot and once you read the cupcake's description you will be tempted to try out the recipes for yourself. Plus, you may learn new baking tips, such as using a baking stone, the benefits of potato starch, and the proper way to beat butter to make frosting.

Because I enjoyed the baking aspects of the book I allowed certain annoying plot points, like the return of a jealous sorority sister and the rushed mother-daughter reunion ending, to slide. Overall, The Icing on the Cupcake is an entertaining read with lots of mouth-watering cupcake recipes.