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Chase Cassine
The Sweetest Therapy

Adult; Food & Cooking; (Publish)

The Sweetest Therapy features a series of baking recipes, mental health, fun cultural facts about New Orleans History and African American culture are blended into this compact, easy-to-read book.

This tasty offering from Cassine, a therapist and clinical social worker in New Orleans, is as much a memoir as it is a cookbook. Cassine turned to baking as a form of consolation after his mother passed away from cancer. The Sweetest Therapy documents his transformative journey in photos, short personal essays that touch on his life and his city, and his family’s much-loved recipes, including simplified versions of New Orleans favorites like pecan pie (“In New Orleans, we don’t call it ‘PEE-can.’ Instead, we say ‘PA-kawn.’”) and one-layer chantilly cake.

This book would be ideal for folks who are new to the art and science of baking, though formatting and style consistency throughout the book present some issues. Some sections have white text superimposed on a black background, which can be difficult to read, and some numerals are interchanged with numbers that are written out, which can confuse a reader who is elbow-deep in flour.

Readers will be drawn in by Cassine’s easygoing, conversational tone: “If only you knew how much begging, pleading, and petitioning it took for me to acquire this recipe from my paternal grandmother, Althea, then you would be both shocked and amused!” Cassine’s warm personality even informs the instructions in his recipes. “Pour your crust into a 9-inch Springform pan,” he writes, of a sour cream cheesecake, “but don’t trip if you don’t have one.” The photographs bookending the recipes, showcasing scenes of second line parades, offer a taste of his city’s vibrant culture, while photos of the dishes themselves are clear, bright, and appealing. Readers will really come to know Cassine through his introduction and reminiscences. His battle with grief is poignant, and his refreshing honesty (describing his struggles with emotional eating and negative self-talk) will be a balm to those also struggling with the same issues.

Takeaway: An appealing guide to healing through baking, New Orleans-style.

Great for fans of: Robbie Montgomery’s Sweetie Pie’s Cookbook: Soulful Southern Recipes, from My Family to Yours, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: C
Illustrations: A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: B+