by Jess McCloskey

Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., $16.99, 144 pages

Jess McCloskey learned to make desserts as a child in her grandmother’s Pennsylvania farm kitchen. Now she shares her delicious recipes with readers in Delicious Gifts: Edible Creations to Make and Give. Are you looking for a unique hostess gift to bring to the next dinner party you are invited to attend? Do you need the perfect dessert to wow your own guests? Make one of McCloskey’s easy homemade truffles or cake balls (red velvet and cream cheese or carrot cake and buttercream). Try one of the yummy brittle, toffee, or fudge recipes.

While the first half of the book focuses on desserts, the second half shows readers how to prepare jellies, dips, chutneys, salsas, spreads, flavored oils and vinegars, and pickled vegetable treats. Novices and advanced cooks will find success by following McCloskey’s user-friendly instructions that highlight complex flavors and simple techniques. Be flexible with the recipes and change them depending on personal taste. McCloskey features tips on which ingredients compliment each other, and she encourages experimentation in the kitchen. The 200-plus color photographs of all the completed food items are stunning and motivate readers to pick one and get started!

Kathryn Franklin