The arrival of the holiday season gives rise to lots of thoughts. Plans for Christmas, and wish lists for gift-giving and receiving rank high at the moment, and interwoven with those is another shared, defining theme—food, as in feasts, finer and heartier fare than in fairer weather and a seasonal amnesty from sweet-treat restrictions.
That’s where Maria Bruscino Sanchez—aka Sweet Maria—comes in.
The owner and baker for nearly 24 years at Sweet Maria’s in Waterbury, a Connecticut destination bakery for cakes, cookies, biscotti and more, Bruscino Sanchez recently released her latest cookbook, and it’s a perfect one both for this time of year and for how we like to live, and eat, now.
In Small, Sweet and Italian, with 75 recipes and simple, straightforward instructions, “The mini sweet trend takes an Italian holiday with recipes like Cappuccino Hazelnut Cupcakes, tiny Torta Caprese, mini Italian cream horns, cannoli, Bellini and Limoncello cupcakes.”
The word “mini” is the key here; these are small bites that are far more delicious and satisfying than they are filling—meaning you can sample a variety without guilt.
“Mini everything has taken hold of the entire bakery industry,” Bruscino Sanchez writes at the beginning of the book, which, before digging into the recipes, offers an ingredients/pantry section, notes on the necessary equipment, helpful mini primers on baking techniques and even a section on pairing desserts with dessert wines.
“I grew up in a family where small portions meant a meal to serve twelve!” she writes in an opening section of the new book entitled La Dolce Vita means “The Sweet Life.” “Many of us love keeping up traditions, yet our lifestyles have changed to eat smaller and lighter. By baking minis, you can have it all: flavor, tradition, and variety.”