Though I’m not a professional baker, I am absolutely a passionate one. That passion has led to some extraordinary recipes, a few deliciously simple techniques, and a lifetime of baking experiences that are as satisfying as the finished products.
Aside from my first high school job as a sous chef in a restaurant, I bake and cook in my home kitchen for the benefit of family (including my four pugs!) and friends. And since 2007, I’ve enjoyed sharing recipes through the Baked Chicago blog.
What got me started on this path? It may be destiny: my mother’s maiden name is Baker. And like a lot of kids, I remember helping mom in the kitchen. One of my earliest baking memories is brownies from scratch, using the cooking bible of its day – the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook with the iconic red-and-white plaid binding. I quickly learned to experiment by throwing in my own variations like chocolate and butterscotch chips, toffee, and peanut M&Ms – all in the same dish. These early baked “masterpieces” got a warm reception at school parties. Fellow high school students dubbed my rich and unusually dense brownies “ton cake.” Over the course of high school, I made a ton of “ton cake.”
I love tinkering with recipes and the challenge of breaking them down to the simplest terms, changing up ingredients and textures to create unique, truly flavorful treats. Here are a few truths I’ve discovered along the way that make my baking and cooking simple and successful:
- Focus on fewer, high-quality ingredients in your recipes.
- Baking from scratch is almost always easier (and cheaper) than from a box.
- A recipe should be easy to follow and execute. [There’s nothing I hate more than a kitchen sink full of dirty pots, pans and utensils.]
I hope these recipes inspire you to express your culinary creativity. Success in the kitchen doesn’t have to be hard work. Simply, BAKE LIKE YOU MEAN IT. ™
I am the author of Baked Chicago’s Simply Decadent Brownies Cookbook, which has over 55,000 copies in print (and digital!) in 10 countries and has been an Amazon top-rated chocolate dessert-making cookbook since December, 2012. I am proud to support two of my favorite charities, Greater Chicago Food Depository and PAWS Chicago, by donating 100% of the net proceeds from sales of the Baked Chicago’s Simply Decadent Brownies Cookbook.
Follow me on Twitter @HarveyUnleashed – Digital anthropologist, world traveler, adventurous epicurean, serendipitous scribe and unabashed dog fanatic.
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