“Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats” by Joy Wilson

Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $30; 272-page hardcover

The holiday baking season is definitely upon us. My first sign is always the avalanche of cookbooks about baking that begin landing on my desk.

Next comes word that the Crisco Pie & Baking Hotline (1-877-367-7438) is back to help home bakers with their desserts. Now in its ninth year, the hotline is expanding its repertoire to include all baking categories: cake, cookie and pie. And, for the first time, it will be available in Spanish.

Consumers can now call the hotline 24 hours a day to get answers to questions such as, “How do I keep my crust from becoming soggy,” or “How long can I freeze an unbaked pie?” For more information, visit Crisco.com.

Speaking of cookbooks out in time for the holidays, check out the gem from Joy Wilson (she’s the blogger behind JoytheBaker.com), “Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence.” If you, like Wilson, believe everything is better with pie or chewy chocolate cookies, then you’ll want the self-taught baker’s cookbook.

She says her 125 easy-to-make, indulgent recipes are “designed to make you look like a hero at the brunch table or neighborhood potluck. More than that, though, I want these sweet recipes to feel special.” Her recipes take the reader from brunch to an ice cream social. In between are sections on cookies, brownies and bars; pies, crumbles and cobblers; and layer cakes, cupcakes and skillet cakes.

Not all of the book’s recipes are decadent desserts — just most of them, such as Vanilla Sugar Doughnuts; Pumpkin, Cranberry & White Chocolate Cake Cookies; Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies, Peanut Butter Cream Pie, Double the Chocolate Cake, and Sweet Coffee & Fresh Fig Pops. Among less-sugary recipes are brunch choices like Roasted Strawberry & Balsamic Grits, Roasted Potato Breakfast Nachos, and Braised Kale & Egg Breakfast Sandwiches. A real show-stopper is Peach, Brie & Dark Chocolate S’Mores.

Wilson also offers plenty of helpful baking tips, and her book is illustrated with full-color photos.

“Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence” is a terrific cookbook sure to please any home baker.

Cookbook signings

Meet cookbook authors at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum’s Small Business Saturday holiday shopping event from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

More than a dozen authors, including Regina Charboneau (“Mississippi Currents”), Addie and Jeremy Martin (“Southeast Louisiana Food: A Seasoned Tradition”) and Kid Chef Elianna (“Cool Kids Cook” and “Cool Kids Cook: Fresh and Fit”) will be autographing and giving book talks throughout the event.

The museum is at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, New Orleans. The complete list of authors and their schedule can be found at southernfood.org.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.

Advocate-tested recipe

Pear-Cranberry-Pecan Crumble

Serves 6. Recipe is from “Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats” by Joy Wilson. Copyright © 2014 by Joy the Baker. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.


4 ripe but still firm pears, preferably d’Anjou

1 heaping cup fresh cranberries

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1?3 cup old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish.

2. For the filling, cut the top stem and bottom butt off of each pear. The bottom will give you a stable base to peel the pears. Using a small paring knife, peel the pears. Slice each pear in half. Using a small teaspoon, gently run down the length of the inside of the pear, removing the fibrous inside spine and then scooping out the seeds. Chop the pears into hearty bite-size chunks and put them in the prepared dish. Pour the cranberries over the pears. Top with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss lightly.

3. For the topping, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break down the butter until some of the pieces are the size of oat flakes and some are the size of peas. Toss in the pecans.

4. Add about a third of the topping mixture to the pear and cranberry mixture and toss. Sprinkle the remaining topping mixture on top.

5. Bake until bubbly and browned on top, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

6. The crumble will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Note: If you prefer to leave the nuts out, add an additional 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats.