Baking from the heart
BRECKENRIDGE – You’ve heard of chocoholics, but Randi Levin had a special kind of obsession with chocolate.She spent two and a half months baking brownies every day, trying to create a fudge brownie recipe with that delectable fudge flavor rather than a plain chocolate flavor.She included the recipe in her debut cookbook, “Baking at High Altitude.” Out of 4,000 applicants, her cookbook won The Best in the World Cookbook Award from Gourmand International, which she calls the Oscars in the cookbook industry. She also won the Colorado Independent Publisher Association’s first place award for cookbooks last year.She credits the award to her writing, which comes from the heart. Introductions for recipes include poems, stories and descriptions of the food.For example, before the ingredients to Dad’s Favorite Bran Muffins, she tells the story of how her dad commanded her to bake him something he could eat with a heart condition and diabetes. As a result, many of her recipes include low fat and low cholesterol options. Another introduction reprints a poem about the muffin lady, who people call Levin, her dad wrote and Federal Expressed to her.In addition to heartwarming stories, the cookbook presents mouthwatering recipes for cakes, muffins, cookies, cobblers, strudels, pies and more.
Many of the recipes are more than 100 years old, passed down from her grandmother and great-grandmothers.And they’ve all been tested. Levin started sharing her baked goods with Evergreen postal workers and other businesses in Evergreen. People raved about her sweets, which eventually led her to supply Wild Oats, the LoDo Tattered Cover and coffee shops throughout Denver.She also used her goodies as bribes when she counseled at-risk teenagers.”The power of a chocolate chip cookie on a delinquent is absolutely amazing,” she said. “If they got their work done and met behavior goals, they’d get cookies. Within two weeks, the kids would cooperate.”Levin self-published her cookbook in December of 2003. Since then, she has sold 2,400 copies, mainly through book signings in Colorado’s small towns – something she loves.”I’ve tasted everything in there, and they’re to die for,” said Elizabeth Holmes-Luciano, one of Levin’s taste testers and friends. “And she gives you a laugh. It includes history of her family, friends, where she’s been and how she puts together the recipe. Her heart really does go into her baking, and you can see that in her writing and in how the recipe comes out.”
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