Olympia – Jan/Feb 2018

Desserts: More than 140 of Our Most Beloved Recipes

Desserts cookbookThe Editors of Food & Wine magazine are world class food experts and they’ve produced Desserts: More than 140 of Our Most Beloved Recipes. It’s an attractive, approachable, easy-to-use dessert cookbook that belongs on the shelf of anyone who loves sweets. This book features tried-and-true, best-of-the-best recipes selected from 30 years of recipe testing in the magazine’s test kitchen. And many of the recipes come from iconic pastry all-stars like Alice Medrich, Jacque Torres, Dominique Ansel, and Dorie Greenspan.

We enjoy food first with our eyes and Desserts is a visual feast. The cover photo is a giant s’mores bar, layered with crunchy graham cracker crust, chocolaty filling and a cloud of meringue. What could be more enticing? Throughout the book, there are gorgeous food photos. When I’m looking for a new recipe, I want to see what the dish is going to look like. This book is generous with photos, almost one per recipe. And I love that not all of the photos are static. For instance, some show a cook sprinkling on topping or scooping up an ingredient and all are beautifully styled and photographed.

F&W’s Desserts features these categories:

Cakes & Pastries

Pies & Fruit Desserts

Cookies & Bars

Puddings & Custards

Frozen Desserts

Candies & Sauces

Each recipe has its own page (no frantic page turning in the middle of a recipe) and features yield, time (active and total), and ingredients on the far left. There’s a short paragraph that describes the dessert and then numbered, easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions.

In Cakes & Pastries you’ll find delectable offerings like Triple-Layer Chocolate Macaroon Cake from renowned French pastry chef Francois Payard. It’s a simple yet elegant recipe featuring only six ingredients. When we made it, we loved the chewy coconut cake and the rich, chocolate ganache on top. Yum!

Apple Cake with Toffee Crust is another winner in the Cakes & Pastries section. Offered by Vermont pastry chef Lara Atkins, this little tube cake has a lovely, crunchy toffee topping that’s addictive.

Lemon Pudding Cakes are fun mini-cakes. When baked, the rich little cake separates into a delectable pudding layer that’s topped with a lemony cake layer.

Tarte Tatin offered in Pies & Fruit Bars is a wonderful fall dessert. Made with packaged puff pastry, it’s super easy and, because it calls for 12 apples, can help you use up those extra fall apples.

Peach hand pies are fun too. Who doesn’t love a pie in the hand? These little pies (the recipe makes 16) can be frozen and popped in the oven for a last-minute dessert.

We’re big cookie/cookie bar fans and the Chocolate Brownie Cookies are intensely rich and chocolatey. With a chewy-soft inside and slightly crunchy outer layer, we found them more like brownies than cookies and utterly delicious.

In the Pudding & Custard section, kids will go crazy for Goo Goo Pie Parfaits, a dessert inspired by the iconic Goo Goo Cluster candy bar. It’s a decadent pudding topped with salty caramel-peanut sauce.

Frozen desserts are always refreshing, especially in the warmer months, and Desserts offers some interesting choices like Maple Semifreddo with Candied Pecans It’s a soft ice cream-like dessert we found to be light, fluffy and creamy.

Butter-Pecan Blondie Sundaes with Creamy Caramel Sauce was another of our favorites. It calls for commercial ice cream so it’s an easy make-ahead dessert for company. All you have to make are the blondies and caramel sauce (which calls for only three ingredients). Then you assemble the sundaes when you’re ready. Or do like we did and have your guests make their own sundaes with the ingredients. It makes for a fun and interactive end to a meal.

In addition to excellent, easy-to-use recipes, we found the book’s recipe index helpful. It’s divided alphabetically into main ingredients such as Apples, Blueberries, Brownies, or categories like Bars or Breakfast and Brunch. Looking for all the recipes that feature chocolate? Just look under Chocolate and you’ll find 40 of them. Looking for ice cream recipes? No worries. There are a dozen under “ice cream.”

Real Bottom Line: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love Desserts: More than 140 of Our Most Beloved Recipes by the Editors of Food & Wine. The editors have pulled out all the stops to give cooks their very best recipes in a delicious-looking format that’s easy to use and delicious to eat. – Bobbie Hasselbring, Editor

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Bobbie Hasselbring

RFT founder and the website’s former editor-in-chief, Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. She’s been an award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook.