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Baked Elements Review: Alfajores and Dulce de Leche

First there was Baked, the most beautiful and fun cookbook we had seen in a while. Followed up two years later with Baked Explorations, which sent food bloggers and bakers alike back into the kitchen with a flurry of new recipes and classic flavors reinvented for an updated audience ready and eager to taste test. And now the boys are back in the kitchens and presenting the third in their collection of dessert filled masterpieces with Baked Elements.

Baked was the first book to ever move me to want to write a review, and not just a ‘this is a great book, go buy it’ sort of review, but the kind that inspired other cooks to get their aprons out. Upon seeing news of a third Baked book, I couldn’t help but jump at the chance to get my hands on it. I own over 200 cookbooks easily, and I would venture that 70% of them are ‘baking’ and yet it is the Baked book’s that I religiously find myself returning to for when I need a guaranteed winning dessert. My beautiful hardcover copies are smeared with dessert, poof with flour upon opening and have more pages than I would like to admit, stuck together from stray ingredients. All of these, the signs of a very loved, very used cookbook; The best kind.

Not to be held back by the previous books, Baked Elements already has stains and smears from my few adventures within it’s pages.

Technical Level: From simple cereal bars and milk shakes to triple layer cakes and soufflés, the third book inspires just as many levels of bakers as it’s previous sisters. The best part about the more challenging recipes in Baked is that they bring out that feeling of accomplishment. If you are taking on soft pretzels for the first time, home made caramel sauce, or madeleines, you will leave the kitchen covered in flour, with a pile of dishes everywhere, feeling like an Iron Chef.

Selected for you :   Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

Graphic Design: Flawless. I wish all cookbooks would adapt the style and formatting that Stewart, Tabori, and Chang have shown on their last several books (Baked, Baked Explorations, Pie It Forward). One recipe per page, clean easily read ingredient list, short introduction, full page images. Sure, it means you don’t get as many recipes, but quality over quantity here, people.  This book could easily be a coffee table book, it’s so pretty to look at.

Recipe Quality: I have only tested two of the recipes in Baked Elements, but both were great. Even when I messed up an entire batch of soft pretzels and had to throw them away, I nibbled on the less than perfect outcome. I have tabbed two dozen other pages and am wondering which pumpkin recipe will come first with the upcoming fall season. There are over a dozen recipes from the previous Baked books featured on Pass the Sushi and I don’t think that is going to slow down now.

Personality: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito have established themselves in the baking cookbook club and sealed their positions as king of the castle. Are there bigger, more technical baking cookbooks packed with great recipes? Sure. But honestly, I’m not sure why you would even bother flipping through them. The recipes selected in Baked Elements are broken into 10 of Lewis and Poliafito’s favorite ingredients. From peanut butter to booze, there recipe choices, from Devil Dogs to pudding, show a love of all desserts. The book has all the class you need in a high end Rolls-Royce but the recipe choices how that the drivers still know how to have a good time.

Selected for you :   Lemon Drop Cake

Why’d I Buy: Um, Baked. Baked Explorations. 10 chapters of finger licking ingredients. I’m not sure I really need to gush any further over how amazing this book is. We’re past that. But if you need some more convincing let me just spell it out for you, Brooksters, Lacy Panty Cakes, Chocolate-chunk Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Milk Chocolate Malt Semifreddo. Yeah, I think you’re starting to get it. 😉



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Thursday 29th of May 2014

I love Baked! I'm lucky enough to live near their bakery in Brooklyn and I don't even wanna say how many times a week I go there for "research". These cookies are definitely next on my list! And your photos are stunning!!!