COOKBOOK REVIEW: Sweet satisfaction without the mess

"Snacking: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings" by Yossy Arefi (Potter, $24)
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"Snacking: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings" by Yossy Arefi (Potter, $24)

‘Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings’ by Yossy Arefi (Potter, $24)

With the party season upon us and no parties on the calendar, I’m in the market for some low-key ways to keep this year’s Grinch, otherwise known as the coronavirus, from snatching away my holiday spirit.

An unexpected resource just came into my possession: Yossy Arefi’s “Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings” (Potter, $24). Although not aimed at any special occasion, the 50 recipes within it can make any occasion feel special with little more than a bowl, a pan and a few simple ingredients.

A snacking cake, by the Brooklyn blogger’s definition, is a single-layer cake that isn’t “the kind of all-day project bakes you’ll see on ‘The Great British Baking Show.’” Rather, it’s an everyday treat that can be whipped up on a moment’s notice with little fuss, frosted or glazed in any number of festive ways, or eaten unadorned, warm from the oven.

Every recipe is geared for an 8-inch-square baking pan, with instructions for adapting it to a loaf pan, a 9-inch round pan, a cupcake tin or even a skillet. Or you can double the ingredients for a Bundt pan or a sheet cake. No electric mixer is required unless you opt for a fluffy buttercream frosting, as I did for the Fudgy Chocolate Cake that I made for my niece’s birthday.

With no more effort and equal bang for the buck, I impressed my weekly across-the-hall dinner guests with a last-minute Coconut Lime Cake drenched in a matching glaze.

Fun after-Zoom-school projects such as Powdered Donut Cake and Rainbow Sprinkles abound. But there’s no shortage of sophisticated ingredient combos to keep grown-ups entertained. Just thinking about curling up in front of a Netflix holiday special with my honey and a slice of Sticky Whiskey Date Cake is beginning to fill me with good cheer.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.