An Interview with Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction

It’s been a while since we featured an author interview on SPOON, so we thought we’d jump back into the fun by chatting with Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cupcakes, and Desserts for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix.

The fabulous Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction

It’s great timing to be talking cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and more because today is, in fact, National Chocolate Chip Day. Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of my all-time favorite things to bake. They’re easy to make, delicious right out of the oven, and simply one of America’s favorite baked goods.

And since it is sure to quickly become one of my ALL time favorite “holidays”, I thought I’d let you all in on the fun and offer you 35% off Sally’s amazing new cookbook on qbookshop.comTODAY ONLY. Simply use promo code COOKIE35 at checkout for your chance to get in on the cookie baking fun. Happy baking!

SPOON: How did you first get into baking?

Sally: My mom and grandma were always in the kitchen when I was younger. They would always get my sisters and I excited about cooking and baking; making food traditions with every holiday and baking a batch of cookies on the weekends. And it has stuck with me through the years!

SPOON: What was the first thing you made?

Sally: I can’t remember exactly, but most likely my Grandma’s caramel corn or my mom’s gingersnaps—both recipes are in my cookbook. And both recipes are made quite often around here!

SPOON: What first made you decide to open up Sally’s Baking Addiction?

Sally: I needed a hobby to keep me busy after work and on the weekends, plus so many friends would always ask me for recipes. I followed many food blogs at the time and have always had a passion for photography and writing. The food blog was inevitable!

SPOON: What’s your favorite thing from your cookbook to bake up?

Sally: There are so many! Let’s see … my fiancé requests the Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies (page 105) on the regular and I am a sucker for my Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Bread (page 2) and Key Lime Pie (page 77).

Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies
Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Bread
Key Lime Pie
SPOON: What ingredients do you just love using?
Sally: Brown sugar. It is, by far, my most favorite ingredient. I love the warmth and depth of flavor it brings cookies, cakes, and breads. Not to mention brown sugar is a heavy lifter when it comes to moisture. It makes my Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream (page 132) so moist!

Apple Spice Cupcakes

SPOON: Do you take all of your own photography? If so, how did you learn the basics?

Sally: Yes, I do. And it took me SO much practice to get to this point. I’m still learning with each photo shoot; the photography is by far the hardest part of this job. I have a couple friends who are professional photographers and they both taught me a lot of basics about the camera when I first began. Food styling and photo composition came with practice. My photos in the beginning make me cringe! I’m always trying to improve.

SPOON: What inspires you?

Sally: Nostalgic tastes and tasty memories from my childhood. Practically all of my recipes have been inspired, in some small way, from the memories I made growing up. Also, travel. I had the best crepes on vacation and those inspired my Vanilla/Nutella Crepe recipe in my cookbook (page 28).

Vanilla Crepes with Nutella

SPOON: Have you ever had anything go terribly wrong in the kitchen? If so, what did you do?

Sally: Absolutely! More often than I care to admit. Let’s see… I’ve burned pizza to a crisp, I’ve had rising bread dough spill over the sides of the bowl all over my refrigerator, I’ve forgotten about cookies in the oven before, one of my kitchen towels caught on fire last summer, I set off the fire alarm making caramel sauce, and have forgotten eggs in a cake before. The results? Not so pretty—or tasty. So yes, I make mistakes too! Every recipe is an adventure and a learning process.

SPOON: Is it hard developing recipes? How do you choose what goes in and what stays out?

Sally: It’s so hard. It takes a lot of practice, work, notes, and ingredients—which get a little pricey after awhile! It’s really all about trial and error. If I find a cake is too dense, I lessen the flour. If I find my bread is too dry, I add a little oil. I’ve learned a lot from studying and through experience; developing recipes really just comes with time. Luckily, I have a huge sweet tooth and a ton of friends and family always happy to take my “test products.”

SPOON: What’s your favorite cookbook of all time?

Sally: I wouldn’t know a thing about baking or cooking if it was not for America’s Test Kitchen: The New Best Recipe. That 1,000 page book is like my bible and it is worth its weight in gold!

Sally's Baking Addiction

Named by Huffington Post as one of the “Top 10 Food Blogs to Watch” in 2013, Sally’s Baking Addiction has skyrocketed in popularity since its inception in late 2011. Baking addict and food blogger, Sally McKenney loves to bake. Her famous Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies won Nestle’s Dark Chocolate contest in 2013, and now, in her first cookbook, Sally shares her baking secrets with fans everywhere. Try her No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Pie, her delectable Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cupcakes, or her yummy Marshmallow Swirl S’mores Fudge. Featuring a brand new selection of desserts and treats, the Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook is fully illustrated and offers 75 scrumptious recipes for indulging your sweet tooth—including a chapter of healthier dessert options for those who follow a vegan or gluten-free lifestyle. With dozens of simple, easy-to-follow recipes, you get all of the sweet with none of the fuss!