Sweet Enough by Allison Roman, a review

I’m cutting it close and hope to post a new review everyday until the end of the year.   My goal of reviewing some of the best cookbooks of 2023 has been haphazard at best but I vow to finish strong!

Today’s hasty review is of Sweet Enough by Alison Roman.

About the book:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A simple, stylish cookbook full of desserts that come together faster than you can eat them—from the author of Dining In and Nothing Fancy.

“Filled with no-fuss recipes perfect for quick and easy baking projects . . . blissfully effortless.”—

San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Vice

Casual, effortless, chic: These are not words you’d use to describe most desserts. But before Alison Roman made recipes so perfect that they go by one name—The Cookie, The Pasta, The Lemon Cake—she was a restaurant pastry chef who spent most of her time learning to make things the hard way. She studied flavor, technique, and precision, then distilled her knowledge to pare it all down to create dessert recipes that feel special and approachable, impressive and doable. In Sweet Enough, Alison has written the book for people who think they don’t have the time or skill to pull off dessert. Here, the desserts you want to make right away, you can make right away.

Alison shows you how to make simple yet sublime sweets with her trademark casualness, like how to make jam in the oven, then turn that jam into a dessert—swirled into ice cream or folded into easy one-bowl cake batter. (Opening a jar of jam is more than fine, too.) She waxes poetic on the virtues of frozen fruit and teaches you the best way to throw your own Sundae Party. There are effortless cakes that take just minutes to get into a pan. And there are new, instant classics with a signature Alison twist, like Salted Lemon Pie, Raspberries and Sour Cream, Toasted Rice Pudding, or a Caramelized Maple Tart. Requiring little more than your own two hands and a few mixing bowls, the recipes are geared towards those without fancy equipment or specialty ingredients.

Whether you’re a dedicated baker or, better yet, someone who doesn’t think they are a baker, Sweet Enough lets you finish any dinner, any party, or any car ride to a dinner party with a little something wonderful and sweet.

About the author:

Alison Roman is the author of The New York Times bestselling cookbooks Nothing Fancy and Dining In. She is a former bi-weekly columnist for the Cooking section of The New York Times and senior food editor at Bon Appétit Magazine. Creator of house favorites such as Shallot Pasta and #thecookies, her highly cookable recipes frequently achieve massive popularity in both home kitchens and on the internet. You can find her and her recipes every other week on her YouTube series, Home Movies, as well as her successful newsletter, titled simply, A Newsletter. Sign up for both over on alisoneroman.com and instagram.com/alisoneroman.

What I thought…

I immediately went to the section entitled “I’ve got all this fruit, now what?”  Roman maintains that she wishes the entire book was entitled as such and I tend to agree.  I would like more of the recipes found in this section.

So, let me stop and talk about her recipes.  Some look traditional but have tweaks and tips that could totally revamp the dish into another non-recognizable recipe.  She encourages modifications, creativity and experimentation.

Interspersed throughout this section are full pages of large type; this large type almost seems like shouting and perhaps she is.   It is important information.—things like how to know when fruit is ripe and how to season a fruit salad. She does not supply a recipe for said fruit salad but instead offers lots of Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do season with salt and pepper (and maybe even red pepper flakes).
  • Add sweetness with honey or maple syrup.
  • Add acid with fresh citrus juice.
  • Do not use “regular” grapes—“they’re rarely remarkable”(221).
  • Do use Concord grapes.
  • Your salad does not have to have “all the colors of the rainbow…embrace monochromatic combinations” (221).
  • Don’t make your salad boring by cutting all the fruit into uniform cubes.

Skip a few more pages and you’ll find a non-typical fruit cocktail (in the same screaming large type). Roman takes her fruit cocktail literally: “To make a fruit cocktail you only have to have fruit and alcohol” (221).

She suggests the following combos:

  • Figs and pears and amaro
  • Plums, sour cherries, blackberries and cassis
  • Peaches, apricots, oranges and Lillet
  • Blackberries, raspberries, sweet cherries and red vermouth

Simply splash the fruit with enough booze to pool at the bottom of the bowl.  “Then, let it sit, or not” (231).

I’ve got all this fruit, now what?” would not be complete without some preserve recipes.  She includes some for stovetop jam, oven jam, and marmalade.

I am so going to make her hard-roasted pears (217) at some point.  I adore the aromatics she uses in this recipe (vanilla bean, fresh ginger, citrus zest, rosemary and warming spices).    White wine and a bit of molasses merge for the poaching liquid.  Finally, apples or pears can be used.   LOVE.

Sorry I went to what many would call the boring chapter of a dessert book so please note there’s sections on pies, tarts and galettes; cakes; “things called puddings;” cookies; frozen desserts; and “morning time, snack times.”  Roman starts with tips like “read a recipe start to finish before making it” and the rationale for such a statement (which I usually totally ignore) and wise talk on ingredients, temperatures and tools.  To round out Sweet Enough, she includes “staples and extras” at the end of the book.  Don’t skip this final section because there’s a few delicious caramel recipes as well as some basics like pie crust and a 50/50 whipped cream (half heavy cream and half Greek yogurt).

Even though this is touted as a dessert book, there’s some delicious savory recipes:  “a very tall quiche with zucchini and greens” (72-73), tomato tart (76-77), creamy cauliflower galette (81), and “many mushrooms pot pie (84-85),

While this was a “best of 2023” book, I’m adding it to my wish list for 2024!

Postscript:  I must address the photographs.  They’re vibrant and beautiful.  Some are still shots, some are “action shots” (like the cover) and some are….  I don’t know how to word this other than I believe the photographer was trying to create food porn.  There’s a few of a shirtless male and one of said male with very tight, short-shorts.   Just sayin’


I’m linking up with Foodie Reads for December.

For all my recent cookbook reviews, click here.

1 comment to Sweet Enough by Allison Roman, a review