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I have been fortunate enough to have a few brushes with the pastry world.

I have had the tremendous honour of having lunch with Dorie Greenspan and many, many, many years ago, shortly after completing my university degree and enrolling in a publishing certificate program, I had the opportunity to talk to Regan Daley.

For about 30 seconds.

I was working on an internship with a publishing company and it was around the time that In The Sweet Kitchen, Regan Daley’s tremendous baking book, was being produced.

I no longer remember the circumstances, but I do remember being asked to call her to confirm a few details.

I believe the entire conversation lasted about 30 seconds. Or at least I was so nervous that it seemed like 30 seconds.

What I do remember was how sweet Ms. Daley was, especially when talking to a most nervous intern fresh out of school.

When In The Sweet Kitchen was published, I wanted it immediately. Strangely, though, over the years I have never picked up a copy. Do not take that as a sign of the book’s merits.

This is a tremendous baking book. It’s thorough, detailed and innovative without being intimidating.

What is particularly unique about the book is that the recipes don’t actually begin until more than halfway through. The first half of the book is an exhaustive look at everything from ingredients to baking methods.

I don’t care if you’ve never turned your oven on in your entire life, there is no way that you cannot come away from this book with a basic understanding of baking and more importantly, inspiration to start baking.

The recipes themselves are gems. Daley doesn’t go for the run-of-the-mill recipes but rather builds the recipe chapters with some really interesting recipes that are destined to become favourites.

The recipes are meticulous and the head notes to the recipes are both informative and often entertaining.

Once again, had I all the time in the world I probably would have baked my way through this book.

Instead, I settled on shortbread.

But not just any shortbread. Butter-Toffee Crunch Shortbread.

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In the recipe directions, Daley writes, “I should warn you, at this point, that this dough now smells better than any cookie dough you have ever experienced. Restrain yourself …”.

She’s not kidding, people.

I have to confess that I was in very short supply of retraint and ate a significant portion of this dough. Raw.

These were quite simply the best shortbread cookies I have ever eaten or baked. And then eaten.

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For good measure, I thought I should try another recipe and I settled on The Ultimate Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies only because I happened to have a bag of chocolate chunks lying around.

I can confirm that the cookies were the ultimate, were definitely soft and were also chewy.

Another winner.

If you already own In The Sweet Kitchen, then you know the joys this book has to offer.

If you don’t own it, what are you waiting for?

Ciao!