Christmas comes early for me this year: all the desserts I’d ever want to bake bound in one weighty tome.
Bon Appétit (BA) magazine has just published their eponymous Desserts book, a monumental work that will bestir the seriously sweet-toothed (and I am first in line). But first, it behooves me to tell you what a colossus this book – literally – is. First, it’s massive: almost 11-inches tall, 8.9-inches wide, and 2.1 inches thick. Its 704 pages total a weight of – and I kid you not – 6.5 pounds. It’s perfect to wield as a weapon but poses some reading position problems.
It’s impossible to lie down and prop this thing on my chest, I feel like I’m having a heart attack. So, I read this upright in a sturdy armchair with my leg propped on the armrest just so. Still, I end up dropping the darn thing and it makes a mean scratch on my wood floor. Not cool.
If it were any other book, I probably would’ve thrown it out the window in frustration and end up killing some passerby. But there’s really too much to love about this book. I love the subtitle: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful – how can I not love that? The 650+recipes represent what author and former BA editor-in-chief, Barbara Fairchild writes as, “…the scope and diversity of [the magazine’s] 50+ years in existence.” She goes on to rhapsodize about how desserts provide “…that little hit of sweet,” and “…nothing provides the satisfaction… or recreates memories like a great dessert.” I find myself nodding my head in vigorous assent.
The book aims to be a dessert resource, packed with the magazine’s half-century of experience and expertise. Chapters are named simply for each sweet: Cakes, Cheesecakes, Pies, Custards, Frozen Desserts, etc. with each chapter split into sub-categories; thus for the latter chapter, ice cream, gelato, sorbet; ice pops, sundaes; parfaits, semifreddos & bombes,etc. The list of desserts and their accompanying page numbers facilitates searching and sorting for recipes making for quick accessibility. Each recipe is also given a “whisk rating”, a difficulty level marked anywhere from one whisk (easy) to four whisks (expert), with a complete recipe listing at the back marked by difficulty level. To ensure success, the book has extensive headnotes, tips, and sidebars.
Bon Appétit Desserts is an easy, luxurious read. The paper is thick and matte and the layout makes browsing a joy. However, I find that there aren’t nearly enough photos. Photos are important to the reader – they inspire and aspire and should be helpful. There are techniques in the book that I feel would have been better served with pictures instead of diagrams, such as wrapping a chocolate band around a cake or portioning crepe batter in a pan.
A cookbook enthusiast like me may not need yet another desserts book. But what merits Bon Appétit Desserts a place on my shelf is its mix of new spins on old favorites: Banana Layer Cake With Caramel Cream & Sea Salt-Roasted Peanuts or the Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie. On the flip side are other desserts thrown in for fun, truly innovative, new century sweets like the White Chocolate Suzette Brownies, and a scintillating Black Pearl Layer Cake made with touches of wasabi and black sesame seeds. There are also no-bake desserts of which the Sour Cream Brown Sugar Ice Cream Sundaes I’ve already bookmarked. Oh Christmas, how sweet it will be!
Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful
Hardcover: 704 pages
Andrews McMeel Publishing, November 2010
Available at Fully Booked. P1,680.00