Sweet Cravings Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

Sweet Cravings Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

I met the author of this cookbook for the first time at the Gluten-Free & Allergen-Free Expo in San Francisco this past January. Kyra, owner of Crave Bakeshop, is such a sweetheart. At the show, I inquired about her cupcake samples being dairy-free which she informed me they were not. Later in the show, she flagged me down and produced a dairy-free version of her cupcake. Where she came up with this, I have no idea but she certainly made me feel that it was made especially for me. This is the kind of person she is…a sweetheart to the core. Her cupcake recipe featured below was the first gluten-free cupcake to earn an award at the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Her cupcake was the 100th Episode Champion! You can imagine my excitement when her new cookbook, Sweet Cravings – 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle, arrived at my door step.


Kyra at the GFAF Expo in Burlingame earlier this year.


When I began to review this cookbook, I had a really hard time deciding which recipes to experiment with. Apparently, some of Kyra’s family is from the south, as is some of mine, and she included several southern style recipes in her book such as Corn Bread with Spicy Honey Butter and Gramma Tishie’s Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler along with some other mainstream classics such as linzer bars, tiramisu, cream puffs and apple crisp. I decided on the apple crisp since it is fall…afterall. I could not resist the award winning cupcake recipe, African Yam. I started with the Apple Crisp recipe.

CRAV Apple Crisp image p 33

The cookbook’s photo of the apple crisp. Used with permission by Ten Speed Press and photo credit: Leela Cyd


One of my favorite past times, peeling apples. Please note, you either need a thin, very sharp paring knife or a sharp vegetable peeler (both used with extreme caution).


The sliced apples ready to go into the oven. The cinnamon and apple smell drifting through the house was divine!


Quinoa Crispies from Edison Grainery

Kyra’s recipe calls for certified gluten-free rolled oats for the topping of this apple crisp. I gave up all grains about six months ago and when I reintroduced GF oats, my body gave quite a fuss…almost to the level of a wheat gluten reaction. No more oats for me. I decided to replace the rolled oats with these quinoa crispies from Edison Grainery. I love them. The crispies gave such a nice crunch to the topping. I highly recommend using these on any crisp topping.


A close up of the quinoa crispies.


Mixing the ingredients for the apple crisp topping.


Hot out of the oven!


Look at the apple goodness!

OMGoodness_smallestI just have to say that this apple crisp is the best I’ve ever had and I’ve experimented with many recipes trying to perfect my own strawberry and rhubarb crisp. It was amazing. This recipe gets an OMGoodness rating from me. As you know, I don’t give out this rating freely so congratulations, Kyra, you nailed it! The publisher, Ten Speed Press, kindly gave me permission to reprint this recipe featured at the end of this post so please, enjoy!

The award winning cupcake…African Yam

CRAV African Yam Cupcakes image p 82

African Yam award winning cupcake. Used with permission by Ten Speed Press and photo credit: Leela Cyd

Next, I bravely decided to take on the award winning cupcake recipe (please note this recipe does include dairy). This is quite a task for me as I consider myself a fairly amateur baker. The recipe includes the cake, a filling for the cupcake and the frosting. Wow, am I brave or what? I carefully took it one step at a time. I chose the best quality ingredients I could find for the recipe. Below, you will see a spice brand that I particularly like. It’s certified gluten-free. From what I’ve learned, there is a risk of gluten cross contamination with spices and in addition, I’ve heard that spices can sometimes be “cut” with wheat starch to increase volume during a low harvest year. On the contrary, I’ve also heard (during a conference) that spices very rarely contain gluten or wheat. So, whom does one believe? I just decided to buy certified GF spices to be safe. It’s not worth the risk to me. I also like this brand because the spices come in small quantities. Spices only have about a six month shelf life so unless you use high volumes, it’s probably best to buy small amounts like you see here.



I used Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk (full fat) to replace the heavy cream in this recipe. It just happened to be the brand I had on hand. I chilled it before using.


I always use organic sugar since most sugar in the U.S. is genetically modified. Sugar beets are one of the top GMO crops and supply over half our nation’s sugar.


Scalding the milk. I used hemp milk instead of cow’s milk. I love this little All Clad pot.


Lining my favorite stoneware cupcake pan with these super cool fall leave cupcake liners.


Out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. They turned out perfect!


My favorite apple corer by OXO.

This recipe suggests using an apple corer to create a hole in the cupcake to fill with the Coffee Pastry Cream. I have owned almost every apple corer on the globe since I started making baked apples with caramel sauce (I hope to blog about this recipe soon)! The OXO brand corer, in my opinion, is the one to own. It has a comfortable handle (important when pressing hard into the apple) and the steel rod is durable and has not bent after coring literally hundreds of apples.


Coring out the center of the cupcake for the Coffee Pastry Cream.


Perfectly cored!


After filling the hallowed out cupcake with cream, I topped it with the Clove Mascarpone Whipped Cream frosting using a disposable pastry bag.


Beautifully frosted!


The gorgeous award winning cupcake…made at my house…imagine that!

This was a very interesting cupcake. The baked yam kept the cake moist and delicious. Kyra truly created a beautiful melody of Madagascar flavors in this moist and delicious masterpiece. Great job, Kyra! No wonder you won the championship. I can’t wait to try the other recipes.

To enter to win a FREE COPY of this cookbook, do the following:

Follow my blog (if you are not already)

Follow Kyra’s blog at Kyra’s Bakeshop. Click the far right icon under the “Gluten-Free Cupcakes” banner.

Follow both Kyra and I on Facebook and/or Twitter (whichever is your thing).

Kim’s Facebook

Kim’s Twitter

Kyra’s Facebook

Kyra’s Twitter

And then, email me to let me know you’ve done these things and I will enter you into the drawing. The winner will be drawn on November 10, 2013. Good luck!

The recipes below are reprinted with permission from Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle by Kyra Bussanich (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Leela Cyd.

Apple Crisp
  • Makes about 8 servings
  • 6 large / 906 g tart apples (Pippin or Granny Smith)
  • ⅓ cup / 76 g sugar, or ¼ cup / 76 g maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons / 16 g tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon / 7.8 g ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon / 1.1 g Chinese five-spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon / .9 g ground ginger
  • Generous pinch / 3.6 g salt
  • 3 tablespoons / 42 g cold butter
  • ½ cup / 89 g sweet white rice flour
  • ½ cup / 74 g millet flour
  • ½ cup / 67 g tapioca starch
  • 1 cup packed / 244 g golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon / 2.6 g ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon / 4.7 g salt
  • ½ teaspoon / 1.1 g Chinese five-spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon / .9 g ground ginger
  • ¾ cup / 170 g butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup / 68 g gluten-free oats
  • ½ cup / 51 g chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples into ¼- inch slices. Put the apple slices into a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the top.
  3. Add the tapioca starch, cinnamon, five-spice, ginger, and salt and toss together to evenly coat the apple slices.
  4. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, dot the top with pieces of the butter and set aside.
  5. To make the topping, combine the flours, tapioca starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, five-spice, and ginger in a mixing bowl.
  6. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix in the butter until it is uniformly incorporated into the flour mixture.
  7. Stir in the oats and pecans.
  8. Crumble the oat topping evenly over the apples.
  9. Bake until the topping is golden brown and set and the apples are warm and bubbly, 55 to 60 minutes.
  10. You can prepare everything ahead of time. Refrigerate the apple filling and keep the topping frozen until ready to assemble and bake. Don’t refrigerate the unbaked topping overnight, as the millet flour will interact with the butter and taste and smell cheesy when it’s baked.

Award Winning African Yam Cupcakes
  • Makes 24 cupcakes
  • ½ cup / 113 g butter
  • ½ cup / 113 g granulated sugar
  • ½ cup / 127 g packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup / 67 g tapioca starch
  • ½ cup / 95 g potato starch
  • ⅓ cup / 55 g rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon / 14 g baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon / 1.2 g salt
  • ¼ teaspoon / .2 g xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon / 1.3 g cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon / .5 g ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon / .4 g ground ginger
  • ⅓ cup / 76 g milk
  • ¾ cup / 255 g mashed roasted ?yams (canned, or about 1 large fresh yam)
  • 1 tablespoon / 14 g vanilla extract
  • Coffee Pastry Cream
  • 1 cup / 227 g milk
  • 4 tablespoons / 56 g sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ⅓ cup / 51 g cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon / 14 g butter
  • ¾ teaspoon / 3.8 g vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons / 17 g concentrated coffee extract
  • Clove Mascarpone ?Whipped Cream
  • 8 ounces / 226 g mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup / 142 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon / 2 g ground cloves
  • ⅔ cup / 158 g heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons / 28 g vanilla extract
  • Pinch / about .5 g salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on high speed until very light and fluffy.
  4. Add the sugars and beat until very creamy and light.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend thoroughly, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine the starches, rice flour, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, and blend thoroughly after each addition, again stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  8. Stir in the yams and vanilla by hand until well blended.
  9. Evenly fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes.
  10. Watch the last 2 minutes to ensure the cakes don’t get over-baked and dry.
  11. Remove from the oven and place each cupcake on a cooling rack until completely cool, 15 to 30 minutes.
  12. To make the pastry cream, line a baking pan with ?heatproof plastic wrap and set aside.
  13. Place the milk and ?2 tablespoons of the sugar in a saucepan and scald the milk (heat to the point where it is steaming and the edges look like it is about to boil but is not yet bubbling).
  14. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, cornstarch, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until smooth.
  15. Once the milk is scalded, whisk the egg mixture vigorously while very slowly pouring in the milk in a steady stream.
  16. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium-high heat. Whisk constantly while heating to ensure that no lumps form.
  17. Bring to a boil and, whisking constantly, continue to let boil for 90 seconds.
  18. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and coffee extract until well blended.
  19. Pour the pastry cream into the plastic wrap–lined pan and cover the entire surface of the cream with additional plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  20. Chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
  21. To make the whipped cream, using a stand mixer with a whip attachment, mix the mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and cloves on low speed until well combined.
  22. Blend in the cream, vanilla, and salt on low speed, then whip on high speed until thick and moderately stiff.
  23. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #805 closed star piping tip with the whipped cream and chill until ready to use. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a large zip-top bag and snip off a corner to squeeze out the frosting.
  24. Remove the plastic wrap from the pastry cream and place the cream in a bowl. Whisk to soften and smooth the texture.
  25. Fill a pastry bag with the cream.
  26. Using an apple corer or a knife, core out the centers of the cupcakes, about ½ inch in diameter, almost to the bottom.
  27. Fill the centers with the pastry cream and top with the whipped cream. If desired, each component can be made ahead of time and everything put together at the last minute.

Disclaimer: It is required that I indicate to my readers when a product has been offered for review at no charge. I will always do this. Please be assured that whether the product is bought by me or given to me, I will always give you my honest and unbiased opinion of the product. In this instance, the cookbook was provided to me free of charge by Ten Speed Press. Thank you for being a loyal follower of my blog.


  1. Wow, they look FAB Kim! You make it all sound so easy. Great detailed directions, gorgeous yummy photos. I can’t wait to try.
    Thank You Kim, and Kyra as well!!
    Mary Claire 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Mary Claire. The apple crisp would be great for the holidays. I’m pretty sure your store carries some of the quinoa puffs.

  2. Kyra Bussanich is now a THREE time winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars – and the only Gluten-Free winner ever. Amazing. And the book is great – not on the recipes – as you wonderfully shown with lots of beautiful pictures – but also the personal, inspiring stories.

    And I found a fun, short video intro to Kyra’s new book, “Sweet Cravings”, at http://www.tinyurl.com/kyrasweet

    • Thanks for sharing! Congrats to Kyra on winning three times! She deserves it.


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