John Barricelli was a familiar face to me as one of the chefs on the show “Everyday Food.”

But I didn’t realize until I got my hands on “The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter) that not only was he an affable personality but he had the baking pedigree to boot. I’ve really built up my cookbook collection over the past couple of years, so it’s not surprising that I already have a few baking cookbooks that promise to offer “the best sweet and savory recipes for every occasion” as this one does.
That’s why I was rather halfhearted about diving into this book about Barricelli’s Connecticut bakery. until the Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars recipe caught my eye. My diet went downhill from there. Where these bars were irresistible, however; the chocolate mousse was delicious but forgettable, and the rugelach recipe was just m’eh and forced me to improvise as the recipe began to fall apart. (Stay tuned for my in-depth posts on each of these).

The book jacket also promises to delight newbies as well as aficionados, but at the same time I think this book would have done well to pinpoint its audience. Is it the Martha Stewart audience? You’d think so, considering the foreword is from the Domestic Diva herself. Or is it the amateur blogging foodie demographic that needs step-by-step instructions on making pâte sucrée and pâte brisée? I can’t tell.

We go from the Euro-chic linzer pastries and French blueberry tartlets to hearty earth-mama multigrain bread and then the Southern charm of the red velvet cupcakes.
I’m happy to own this book as part of my collection as it offers variations on classics such as the mousse, brioche, and brownies. But I can’t help but think some googling on the Martha Stewart site would have served the same purpose.

Should you run out and spend $43.00 Cdn on this book? If you are a die-hard, Martha-Stewart loving baker, maybe. The layout is well thought out: Bolded ingredients, pull-out “Technique Tips” and frame-by-frame photos to illustrate method. But you wouldn’t be missing out if you waited for the softcover edition.

In the meantime, here’s a recipe from the cookbook, courtesy Random House.

Ginger Cookies – Makes 60

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sugar, plus O cup for rolling
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinna­mon, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Beat in the egg and molasses until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating until combined. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour (and up to 24 hours).
3. Arrange the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mats; set aside. Place the extra sugar for rolling on a plate; set aside.
4. Use a 1½-inch ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough, and roll into balls between your hands. Roll the balls in the sugar to coat, and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake one sheet at a time, rotating the sheet two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the cookies are deep golden brown and the centers are firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack, and let cool completely. Continue to roll and bake the remaining cookies in the same way.

Excerpted from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli Copyright © 2010 by John Barricelli. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.