This review is for the kindle version and not all of it will necessarily apply to the paperback version.
I love gingerbread so when I saw this cookbook pop up on the free list I thought why not? I didn't really expect a top quality cookbook, but was surprised that there was not even a simple table of contents or index to review what recipes were within the book or to easily jump to one I found interesting. This isn't a fiction book where you read from beginning to end. One usually looks down the list of recipes and decides which one to look at. The only way I could see what was in the book was to page through to the beginning of each recipe. It finally occurred to me that I could highlight each recipe title as I got to it then view my highlights as a pseudo table of contents. It still boggles my mind that there is no index of any kind in a cookbook.
So after making my index of recipes so I can find each one without scrolling back and forth every time, I decided to try the Gingerbread Brownies. I didn't like the formatting on the recipes. The ingredients list looks triple spaced so it often goes over to the next page when it could easily have fit on one page. Not a huge deal but just a bit sloppy. Another thing that was annoying--and this is a personal preference--is the use of t and T and c for tsp, Tbl, and cup. Would it have been that much of a hardship to type it out more fully to avoid any misunderstanding? Experienced bakers probably didn't even notice but someone with little baking experience might not understand that t. means teaspoon (tsp.) and T. means Tablespoon (Tbl.) I know y'all are laughing at me thinking I'm an idiot, but really, I actually scrolled through a few recipes until I found one that had a T. just to be sure!
Like the measurement descriptions, the baking directions are sparse and left out information that would be helpful, especially to someone not that experienced with baking. When I mixed the batter together it came out very thick, much thicker than any brownie batter I've ever made. I could have pulled off pieces to roll into balls. There is no warning in the recipe to expect a thick dough-like batter. I wondered if I had done something wrong but with such a simple recipe I don't think I did. Spreading the batter was another problem. I finally thought to grease the back of the spatula in order to successfully "spread" the batter. Another tip they could have put in the book.
So, recipe mixed, batter spread, pop it in the oven, which I preheated even though the recipe does not warn you to do this. I can't remember the last recipe I read that does not advise to preheat the oven when it is needed. Granted, I don't bake or cook that much, but still... So how did they come out? Not bad. Nothing I'm going to shout about from the rooftops, but good enough. They are not the chewy kind of brownies that I prefer (though I likely overcooked them a bit) and I think they would be better with some type of glaze or icing, or a dollop of ice cream (which I actually did!) but the cookbook doesn't make suggestions like that. Another little extra that would have been nice.
Oh, another thing that would have made the directions more thorough is to state how to tell if the brownies are done. Will an inserted knife or toothpick come out clean or not? Will it pull away from the edges? Is there some other characteristic to indicate it is done? Is there any difference in baking time for higher altitudes? Probably a no-brainer to someone who bakes a lot but not everyone knows this stuff.
So, in summary, though the formatting could use some work and the directions could be more thorough, I don't think it is a bad little cookbook. It is just on the sparse side in terms of formatting and directions. If you are okay with that then I think it would be worth it for a gingerbread lover. I would like to try the gingerbread house dough as I used to make gingerbread houses and I'm always looking to try new recipes for that. I also like the the section for icings and such at the back, ya know...when I finally stumbled across it. :) If I try any of the other recipes I'll try to remember to come back here and edit to let you know how they turn out.
And in case you are wondering, there is no nutritional analysis for each recipe. I always wonder about this when I look at a cookbook so thought I'd just add that in case others want this info too.
Source: My Personal Library