11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I feel like this book has gotten somewhat of a bad rap from people who had are unfamiliar with the style of book that Michel Roux normally produces. Any of his books are definitely written with the budding professional in mind or at the very least someone with a strong familiarity with professional cooking techniques, terminology and equipment. Adjustments can easily be made for those who do not have a convection oven -- what the text refers to as fan-assisted -- which is something most professionals would know. The recipes are all very well written with thorough explanations of each step for some of the more advanced techniques. Photographs throughout the book are beautiful and are often very effectively used to demonstrate a technique or give a visual example of consistencies or textures of products. Yes, as many others have pointed out, the binding is terrible and hopefully the publisher has corrected this (mine came broken before I had even opened the book).
If you are a beginning professional in the baking industry or are a very advanced home cook/baker looking to expand their technique with classic techniques and variations on classic recipes this is a great book for you. If you are a home baker that is more interested in making cake pops and following Martha Stewart, this book is definitely not for you.
A side note for those complaining about the 'fan-assisted' ovens, claiming such equipment is for restaurants only and all of that . . . convection ovens are readily available on the market and can be found anyplace from your specialty appliance store to Home Depot and Lowe's. Convection just means there are fans to help circulate the air so your product bakes more evenly; if you don't have a convection oven you can still bake any of the recipes in this book, just be aware that you will have to increase the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees depending on your oven.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
WARNING, READ BEFORE USING BOOK: (See customer photo). The page preceding the table of contents contains the usual publication information, printed on a photograph for maximum illegibility: copyright, dates, ISBN, etc. At the top of this page under the heading "notes" are 6 paragraphs. The fifth paragraph reads: "Timings are for fan-assisted [convection] ovens. If using a conventional oven, increase the temperature by 30°F. (15°C.). IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU DON'T HAVE A CONVENTION OVEN, RAISE ALL BAKING TEMPERATURES BY 30°F.
Michel Roux is, without question, one of the world's best, most accomplished, pastry chefs. He presents "Desserts" as a "fresh look" at the subject with "updated great classics and mouthwatering contemporary recipes, inspired by his travels and designed to suit today's fresher, lighter palate." This is an accurate description of the contents, which span the gamut of desserts (fruit, cremes, souffles, puddings, crepes, ice creams, meringues, pastries, cakes, and chocolates). The recipes have numerous beautiful photographs, including photos illustrating techniques. I have not yet tried the recipes but look forward to doing so. Many look perfect for Spring. Note that in 1997 Roux published another cookbook of the same name, Desserts.
I do think that Amazon's description of this book is inaccurate. It states: "For more complicated techniques, helpful step-by-step photos ensure that even inexperienced home cooks and bakers achieve delicious results." Although a few techniques are illustrated, this cookbook is, by no means, suitable for home cooks and certainly not inexperienced cooks. Michel Roux is no Julia Child.
The recipes assume familiarity with professional techniques. Although volume measurements are given, e.g., cups and tablespoons, metric weights are included and produce far more accurate results. The use of "a scant cup" implies, to me, that Roux never intended the chef/cook to measure rather than weigh ingredients.
Further, recipes use professional ingredients, such as leaf gelatin, seldom used by the home baker, and Roux does not provide suppliers or sources. Note: the Internet is a good resource for buying these uncommon ingredients. A few ingredients, such as clotted cream, probably require substitution by even the professional chef, but the recipes provide no suggestions or advice. As for candied mimosa balls used to decorate the mini croquembouche, I could find only 1 source on the Internet. They are made in Toulouse, France, and sell for $11.00 a quarter ounce!
Big technical problems: the binding and printing. A quality cookbook should not fall apart after a few uses. The publisher has a serious problem with the binding. Also, text should not be written on photos as on page 163. It is illegible.
Overall, if one has the skills and experience to deal with Roux's recipes, I do think that this book presents a delicious array of desserts to please most palates.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Before reading any of this book I decided to flip to the front to make sure I wasn't missing anything important. In small print on the masthead page, it said that times and temperatures were for fan-assisted ovens. Now, I can understand suggesting buying restaurant-style equipment like a chinois sieve, but who's going to shell out for a convection oven just to be able to do restaurant-style desserts?
Michel Roux is a long-standing and well-respected chef and cookbook writer; that's unquestionable. (In fact, one of the first cookbooks I ever bought for myself was one of his, with his brother.) For all that, I feel like I should be expecting a more accessible book; there's only so far a home chef can go to duplicate the restaurant kitchen, and it feels like Roux isn't quite meeting his readers at that halfway point. The recipes are certainly interesting, ranging widely from poached pears to Génoise cake (curiously anglicized as "Genoese") to kataifi to brownies (the cover shot), so you'll certainly find many exciting ideas for your dinner parties. And there are a few recipes that serve as models for others, and include extra photography. The food photography is as nice as you'd expect from a British-produced cookbook, although the Bodoni-style text font it's printed in is quite strange and a little jarring. Also, something that really jumped out at me -- Roux is a fan of stevia, not only in its artificial sweetener form, but as an herb in its own right. If nothing else, you have to give him points for creativity.
But this is one of those cookbooks where it's not at all clear who the audience is. He uses odd ingredients -- liquid glucose? Don't you have to go to a brew shop for that or something? He seems to use only commercial kitchens for recipe testing, if the odd statement on the masthead is any indication. A lot of these recipes simply shouldn't be attempted by a beginner for those reasons; you'd have to be a reasonably good cook to be sure you know your way around them. Overall, the book reminds me of Charlie Trotter's cooking show -- great for food porn, but any chef that assumes you have duck fat/liquid glucose lying around or readily available doesn't get out of the restaurant nearly enough.
(And yes, there's a significant binding issue with this press run, but if you're reading this a year or three from when I wrote this, it probably won't be an issue in later printings.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2012
This book, as are all Michel Roux's baking books, is a masterpiece. While not necessarily for the casual home baker, the formulas are well-developed, imaginative, very well-tested and edited and exquisite. As with ANY baking recipe book, it is vital that all ingredients, method of preparation and techniques be strictly adhered to. Baking is an exact science and, unlike cooking, calls for precision. Also, actualmoven and refrigerator temperatures of home units are often wildly off from what their readings say. Invest in excellent quality fridge and oven thermometers and adjust your appliances or baking times as necessary.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I am not a novice but this book is designed from the perspective of a professional baker. To be user friendly for a home baker, substitutions for items like leaf gelatin and liquid rennet, etc. would have been helpful, if not essential. And, although when baking I weigh my ingredients, it was disconcerting to see terms like generous and scant for dry measures. Baking, unlike much of cooking, is devoid of much wiggle room, so attaching adjectives to a cup of flour is just wrong.
From my perspective, if a book is being created by a professional for use by the general public then part of the process is to adjust recipes for ease of use by the target market. If the adjustments for general use so compromise the integrity of the author or the taste of the recipes then the project should perhaps not be pursued. Perhaps a text book for aspiring professionals would be a better fit.
As noted by other reviewers, the book has construction issues. My book's binding cracked shortly after arrival. I decided to look at my local library's copy of the book to see if it had the same issue. I opened the library book (that step alone was enough to cause my binding to completely crack,) and fully shook it but the binding didn't crack and the pages remained tightly sewn in place. What does this mean? I don't know, and I don't feel comfortable saying at this point, the problem has been resolved.
The book is lavishly illustrated with at least 80 percent of the recipes featuring a full page color photograph of the finished dessert. For some recipes there are step-by-step illustrations which are also useful - for example showing what a French meringue should look like. The paper used is high quality and spills, if wiped up promptly, do not cause damage to the page.
The ink color used throughout the book is mercifully black, but the font size used for recipes is small - I estimate nine point for the ingredients and ten point for the text. Throughout the book some text is smaller than that and some larger. There are a number of pages where the recipe is printed on a colored page which is harder to read.
I prepared the Lemon Cake and baked it in a normal gas oven. It was delicious and indulgent and I will definitely make it again.
Rating the book is difficult because it isn't designed for a home baker and the construction problem, which may or may not already be resolved, is significant. The recipes should be the most important part of the book, and on that basis alone, the excellent Lemon Cake should weigh heavily in a positive review, but problems on many levels cause the book to be user unfriendly.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
But it mostly features fruit, so don't get a false picture of heavy and totally decadent desserts. (Although there is one recipe in there for a very sinful-looking Chocolate Mousse Cake with Cherries....)
I think that what stands out about this "dessert" cook book is that it is NOT primarily a "baking" cook book, which is fine by me--I've got plenty of brownie recipes, pie cook books, cake cook books, cookie cook books, holiday baking cookbooks. It is also NOT a chocolate cook book, although there are many recipes featuring chocolate.
I don't bother baking much during the warm months, (6-8 months of "warm or hot" where we live) but for some reason, those are the months when the family craves something sweet after dinner. That's also when we entertain more often, and I want to go the extra effort and make a dessert. If I have a choice of dessert, I will pick crème brule, mousse, pannacotta, soufflé, fool, posset, puddings, meringue, sorbets or ice cream over cake, brownies, cookies or candy. So this book is perfect in my mind.
I love to use the fruit of summer, the apples, pears cranberries and persimmons of fall, and the citrus of winter, and the family loves all fruit desserts, ice creams, sorbets, mousse, puddings and other creamy concoctions that don't need an oven. (Okay, we do love our fruit pies, too.) So the point is: This cook book excels in the fruit department; it is crammed with recipes that use fruit as a main ingredient. And I'm very, very happy to have this cook book.
Michael Roux masterfully covers all the basics while emphasizing other-than-the-basic flavors and flavor combinations. As an example there is Crema Catalana from Spain, which is flavored with fennel seed, cinnamon, lemon and orange And the processes for making crème anglaise, sabayon, meringue (both French and Italian), crepes and genoese are explained in detail and in numerous pictures (two pages for each technique, in the appropriate chapter). In addition to what I've already mentioned there are some fried creations, truffles and jellies, sauces, madeleines, macarons, cheesecakes, a gateau, kataifi (Greek pastry), tarts, and not to be left out, a token pie, cake, and a brownie recipe. I say, Wow! with a capital W!
We tried the very simple Citrus Fruit in a Sauternes Jelly over the weekend. I used some left-over ice wine, citrus from our neighbor's yard, and put it in our Bodum double-walled 8 oz. glasses Bodum Pavina 8-Ounce Double Wall Thermo Glass, Buy 4 Get 6 Bonus Set. The presentation was beautiful and the ice wine could not have met a better end. We've also tried the Strawberry Fool (fruit, sugar, balsamic vinegar, cream) and it was also simple and great tasting. There are plenty of variations for many of the recipes, too. For instance, the Fool can be made with apples, rhubarb or apricot. Crème anglaise can be chocolate, coffee, ginger, spiced, minted or pistachio. And yesterday my husband made the lemon posset....Forget the roast chicken on the grill! Let's eat dessert!!! (So we actually compromised....and left out the potato; making a feast of chicken, sautéed carrots and posset!)
At this time of year it's no use trying some of these recipes that call for apricots, peaches, melons, etc., but there are some lovely pineapple and strawberry and plenty of citrus recipes. I am looking forward to trying the fruit ice cubes and the melon and sweet pepper gazpacho. I would have liked to see more ice cream and sorbet recipes.
For next late Fall there are pear and apple recipes and a terrific-looking cranberry, quince and apple crumble. There are so many more recipes that I've marked and am anxious to try.
No wasted space in this cook book--even the book's margins are less than the norm. Vibrant pictures are more than pretty and bright and colorful: They are creative and explanatory. Index is adequate. Text is plenty large enough to read, and when sometimes shown against a brightly-colored background, the text is bolded. Same size and look as his Eggs book, so it works as somewhat of a series. His Eggs cook book is equally sophisticated and covers both all the basics and plenty of new recipes to try.
Several pages ripping from the binding the second time I opened the book. So unusual--only one other book's ever done that before. Heck, I'll use a rubberband if I have to...but I will keep using this book! I see that other reviewers reported the same problem. ADDED 4/6/12: It seems that the binding issue has been rectified.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you are looking for a dessert book which features recipes that will make a delightful impression but require a bit more skill than the average, this book will probably appeal to you.
The book is filled with very beautiful photographs of delicious looking desserts. Most of the desserts in the book are what you would expect to find in high class restaurants - as much show as taste. There is an excellent selection of desserts, covering a wide range of taste. The recipes are divided by categories, starting with fruit desserts, crèmes, soufflés and pudding, crepes, ice creams and sorbets, mousses, tarts and pastries, cakes and chocolates. There is a introduction which covers ingredients and equipment.
For some of the recipes the description might be a little overboard - for example, lots of fruits say "perfectly ripe _____". I am not sure exactly what "perfectly ripe" means. He may mean fully ripe. But there are many instances where the wording is a bit overboard.
The bake times and temperatures in the book are based on using "fan-assisted" or convection ovens. I suspect that a large number of homes have conventional ovens. It probably would have been helpful to have given the times/temperatures for both.
Unlike some reviewers, my book had no trouble with the binding. This book is very beautiful and would be a great gift for someone who is really into desserts.
Many of the recipes are probably a step above the normal desserts in terms of preparation and ingredients. However the end results look fantastic.
If you are looking for a dessert book which will help you stand out from the crowd, this should be a great choice.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I'm a fan of Roux's pastry book, and this is another great one for the dessert collection. The photographs, as usual, are wonderful. I tried the brownies and the "tarte fine au citron," which was amazing, and very easy to make. I also made the little lemon cakes for Easter brunch and they were a hit. (I have a thing for citrus desserts.) All the ingredients have weights in addition to measurements, which I believe should be required for every recipe book on the market, not just baking books. Weights make cooking So Much Easier.
Of course, there are some desserts that are probably more ambitious than I will attempt (see: anything with puff pastry), but then again, you never know. He does make everything seem achievable. And it has a great "Basics" chapter at the end which gives foundation recipes that you can use any time, like chocolate sauce. As a couple others mentioned, I, too, am a bit worried about how the binding will hold up over time because it doesn't seem quite right. It may just be this printing, though, and it's not a fatal flaw at any rate. For a solid, overall collection of a wide variety of desserts, you can't go wrong here.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I wasn't expecting much from this dessert cookbook, an opinion based entirely on the thire recipes offered on the Amazon page. While they seemed just fine, they also seemed very ordinary, nothing particularly special. If I had acted on that opinion, I might have missed what could be the best dessert book I've seen.
Here's my take on "desserts."
1. Where to start? With so many gorgeous color photos, just choosing one dessert to make is a big problem. Eye candy that will surely make your mouth water.
2. In addition to just recipes, you'll find instructions for several techniques to help you make a fabulous dessert: French and Italian merinques, souffles, sabayons, and more. You'll be a better cook (and probably a fatter one, too).
3. Chocolate, chocolate -- everything you could wish for if you are a chocoholic. But plenty of fruits are included as well.
4. A spectacular range of desserts is included, everything from cakes and tarts to cremes and crepes. And each is illustrated, so you'll know how the final product should look.
5. Included is a comprehensive index, so you can easily find the particular recipe or technique you had in mind.
1. My book arrived damaged, clearly before shipment. The flyleaf was torn away from the book, and the pages were beginning to separate from the book's spine.
2. In addition to the index, I would have liked to have a list of suppliers included. Some, but not many, of the ingredients called for are not available in my smallish Texas town. For example, where do I find leaf gelatin? Not here, for sure.
This dessert cookbook will be a fine addition to my library. Although I'm disappointed in the book's construction, it is not the fault of the author, and his book should not receive fewer stars than five.
Frankly, I can't imagine many cooks who would not enjoy and use it.
UPDATE: February 22, 2012
Learning that other books have been shipped in the same damaged state as mine is discouraging. I have adjusted my rating accordingly because even though it's not the author's fault, the extremely poor condition of the book itself means that some cooks will simply be unable to use the book as it has fallen apart before they even get it.
UPDATE: February 24, 2012
If there is even one undamaged book among all these reviewers, that person should count themselves lucky. I suggest Amazon ship the entire set of books back to the publisher. And, in fact, I am surprised and disappointed that the publisher allowed such poor books to ship in the first place.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I was very excited about this cookbook as I was led to believe it was designed to be used in a regular kitchen and with the boasting of step-by-step photos, appeared to be instructive and informative. That excitement ended a few days after receiving "desserts". The binding broke both in the front of the book and I hadn't even used it yet, but only glanced at it. Then I started reading and found that one really needs to pay attention to size and types of ingredients. For example: Medium eggs are used throughout the cookbook, but you will only find that information in the beginning.
Many of the ingredients are difficult to impossible to find in our area, forcing me to purchase online or through mail-order. If you follow the instructions and use a "good-quality chocolate" and not the brand specified, you may or may not end up with a exceptional tasting dessert. So far my results doing this have been less than impressive.
I did find the crepe recipe to be excellent and there are useful and delicious recipes that can be made without having to purchase hard-to-find ingredients, but over-all, I'm not feeling the love for this cookbook.