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Retro Desserts: Totally Hip, Updated Classic Desserts from the '40s, '50s, '60s, and '70s Hardcover – April 26, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1 edition (April 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688164447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688164447
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tired of tiramisu? Good. Wayne Brachman to the rescue. He's the pastry chef for Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill and Bolo in New York City. For Retro Desserts Brachman has culled food magazines, newspapers, cookbooks, leaflets, and the like from the 1940s to the early 1970s for the classics of American dessert kitsch, turning up one horrid treasure after another. The most frightening aspect of this book is the urge that comes with each turning page to get into the kitchen and start baking, stirring, cooking, and re-creating. Why would anyone want to bake a Crazy Craters of the Moon Cake with Moonrock Topping? (Miniature marshmallows--that's the secret of the topping.) But then Brachman shows you how to make your own marshmallow, reconstructing this entire processed dessert from scratch. "If you must," he writes, "go out and get store-bought cookies or crumbs [for pie crusts]. OK, it's extra work, but homemade cookie crumbs make a remarkably big difference in flavor." There are recipes for the home-baked equivalent of the Oreo and Cream-Filled Devil's Food Cupcakes, as well as Strawberry Chiffon Pie, Banana Pudding, Bananas Foster, Strawberries Romanoff, Lemon Bars, and Cornflake Macaroons--all illustrated with the kitsch of the time. Fun as they all sound, the recipes bear the integrity of a fine pastry chef who obviously likes a good time but is also serious about what he brings to the table. Those may look like Ding Dongs you are serving at your next dinner party, but wait until the flavor kicks in. --Schuyler Ingle

From Library Journal

Brachman's first cookbook was called Cakes and Cowpokes. Now he's combined his corny sense of humor and fondness for nostalgic desserts in this collection of recipes ranging from Chocolate Blackout Cake to Baked Alaska, grouped into chapters with such titles as "Cookie, Cookie, Lend Me Your Comb" and "For Whom the Ice Cream Bell Tolls." The recipes themselves, though, are straightforward and clearly written, and these desserts are sure to bring back memories for many readers. Recommended.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

After double checking amounts and technique, redoing the whole thing they are still a mess!
Sharon Schubert
After the recipes failed, I could figure out the problem and make adjustments, but I don't feel it's my responsibility to do that after purchasing a hardback cookbook.
Amazon Customer
They bore no resemblance to animal crackers/ cookies at all, and the flavor of the corn flour in the recipe was very distracting.
Crazy Rowdy Hightower

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Schubert on February 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to try to make a better tasting version of Oreos, Hostess cupcakes, black and white cookies, etc. The oreos came out great, there is certainly a mistake in the amount of liquid needed for the batter for the black and white cookies, and the cupcakes came out totally flat and stuck to the pan! After double checking amounts and technique, redoing the whole thing they are still a mess! I would return this in a minute if it was that easy! A lot of cuteness, but very difficult and inaccurate recipes.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book, I had to have it. It is beautifully photographed and the text is witty. The problem is, like some other reviewers have mentioned, the recipes don't work. I promised the gang at work I'd bring in delicious Black and White cookies and the results were a waste of time and money. I have tried four different recipes and had trouble with each. I've never attended culinary school, but I'm a pretty experienced home baker. After the recipes failed, I could figure out the problem and make adjustments, but I don't feel it's my responsibility to do that after purchasing a hardback cookbook. Get this book if you want to set it on your coffee table, but don't take it into the kitchen!!!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The desserts described in this rather entertaining book are certainly mouth-watering. Although scattered with cute commentary (often very funny!) and interesting bits of information about times gone by, I find the recipes not to be very workable. My biggest pet peave is the 'Black and Whites', our beloved huge New York cookies,soft,lemony and satisfying. The recipe sounds great...but it doesn't work out! The batter spreads too much, so the cookies are very thin and fragile, with no body and the fondant frosting turns out a mess. A chef's book?
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By linda king on August 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because i have seen the chef several times on the food channel plus i did read the reader reviews. i tried the blackout cake (twice) and both times the cake overflowed into my oven! not fun. i read the recipe over and over again, checking measurements, pan size, oven temperature etc. i can almost be certain that i followed it to the T. I wonder if he means 2 8-in cake pans? i am just frustrated. is it an imprint? or is it something i did? anyone have any tips, please let me know. i am a little weary of trying any other recipes out of this book as of now. hope others have better luck.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to love this book. The idea is great, the photos are fantastic, the writing is funny -- but so far, every recipe I have tried has stunk. Some of them didn't work, some of them worked but the result just wasn't that great. I'm glad I have it on my shelf to look at and be inspired by, but I'm not going to cook from it anymore.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By EBJ on February 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I tried making the Black and White Cookies. I followed the directions, TO THE LETTER. The batter for the six cookies on each cookie sheet melted together into a single mess! I double checked the recipe, and I did not make any mistakes. There must be something missing, either ingredient-wise or in the instructions. Very frustrating, because what little I was able to taste was pretty good, even though it was impossible properly cook them (there was no way to turn the single mass this became over at the half way point).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Manley VINE VOICE on December 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Maybe like you I love to check out different cookbooks. This one seemed to be original in that it presented recipes that you may have not seen, or ones that you grew up with. Seeing nostaglic recipes always brings back memories. While I found this book a good read, the recipes aren't the best for the particular dish.

In the books favor it does a great deal to set the theme of "Retro" recipes. Their are funny little blurbs in the text that relate you to the time in which the recipes were written. Pictures are taken that definately bring you back to your Mom's or Grandmother's cookbook. Actually the pictures are one of the best parts of this book, the pictures are quite good, and leave your mouth watering.

Complaints that I have about the recipes steam from using cornstarch in banana pudding, while it works, flour is used more traditionally, and seems to give a better flavor than cornstarch. The recipe for Banana's Foster suggests bourbon, Banana's Foster is never made with Bourbon. I also have yet to see an old recipe for Chow Mein Hay Stacks that uses coconut.

While I think the book was beautifully made. The pictures are delightful, and will take you back in time. The book has many little blurbs that are fascinating to read. The recipes aren't the best thought out, and honestly do not always seem to be the ideal representations of the dish that is represented.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book seems like a good idea. So far, I have tried to make the Lemon Pudding Cake, the Grasshopper Pie, and the Strawberry Shortcake. I had to throw the mess out EVERY TIME and start from scratch with my own modified version. This book is horrible!

The recipes are just wrong and sometimes poorly written instructions.

If I could meet the author, I would demand my money back and then punch him in the face for wasting hours of my time and nearly embarrassing me at my own dinner parties.

I was going to donate this book to a charity, but why proliferate the bad recipes and frustrate someone else. I think I will just burn the thing.
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