“The Little French Bakery Cookbook: Sweet & Savory Recipes and Tales from a Pastry Chef and Her Cooking School” by Susan Holding

Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95

268-page hardcover

Based on the cookbooks that have crossed my desk in recent weeks, I predict that French cooking is the new “in” thing for the home cook.

Of course, French cooking techniques have always been a part of Louisiana’s culinary traditions. And Julia Child, along with co-authors Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, both of France, introduced classic French cooking to mainstream Americans in 1961 with the first volume of “The Art of French Cooking.” But if my new cookbooks are any indication, French-inspired recipes are making a fresh appearance in America’s home kitchens.

Among those cookbooks is “Little French Bakery Cookbook: Sweet & Savory Recipes and Tales from a Pastry Chef and Her Cooking School” by Susan Holding, who owns a pastry shop and cooking school in rural Wisconsin. In her book, the former nurse recounts her experiences attending Le Cordon Bleu’s pastry program in Paris. Holding’s stories about her adventures in Paris are interspersed between her cooking advice and the book’s 100 recipes.

She offers an interesting mix of recipes, many illustrated with full-color photographs. The recipes include Feel the Love Bread Sticks, Chocolate Caramel Mousse, Onion Soup, Holiday Beef Tenderloin With Horseradish Sauce on Baguettes, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Tart aux Pommes and Winter Sunday Football Chili.

Since Holding is a cooking instructor, I was surprised that many of the book’s recipes don’t list their ingredients in the order used — a major inconvenience for the cook.

Her Raspberry Coconut Bars recipe is easy to make, but I found it too sweet for my taste and will consider cutting back on the sugar when I make it again. However, my taste-testers had no qualms about gobbling the treat up.

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

Advocate-tested recipe

Raspberry Coconut Bars

Makes 1 13-inch-by-9-inch pan. Recipe is from “The Little French Bakery Cookbook: Sweet & Savory Recipes and Tales From a Pastry Chef and Her Cooking School” by Susan M. Holding (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014). Holding says, “My dear friend Kim gave me this recipe years ago. She adds the bars to dessert buffets with her famous wedding cakes. I’ve been teaching the recipe in all my Summer Picnic classes. The bars are easy, very tasty, and portable. The recipe can be doubled for a jelly roll or half-sheet pan.”

311/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, divided

Shortening or vegetable cooking spray

11/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

11/2 stick unsalted butter, chilled

11/2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned style)

3/4 cup good quality raspberry preserves

Shortening or cooking spray for preparing the pan


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Place 3/4 cup coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven to toast. Stir every 3 to 4 minutes as the coconut browns. Watch carefully! The coconut can burn very quickly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

3. Brush your pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray.

4. In a food processor, pulse to combine the flour, sugars, salt and butter. Or mix by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The mixture should be crumbles with pea-sized bits.

5. Add the oats and toasted coconut. Reserve 1 cup of the dough.

6. Press the remaining dough into the pan.

7. Spread the preserves on top of the dough, then crumble the reserved dough over the top.

8. Sprinkle the untoasted coconut on top.

9. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven, cool, cut into squares. Store the bars in a cool place in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze.