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Customer Review

41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expanded Version of Other Kimball Dessert Sections, August 21, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Dessert Bible (Hardcover)
I'm an avid cook and, while I no longer subscribe to "Cooks Illustrated" magazine, I respect Chris Kimball and his expert kitchen team and have had good luck, more or less, with their recipes which, if followed EXACTLY, are virtually foolproof. I also never fail to learn something from their informative kitchen commentary. All in all, his recipes and advice are beneficial to both novice and experienced cooks.
That having been I have to point out that taste is, of course, subjective. For instance, I've found, from trying a number of Kimball's recipes, that he is a salt-a-holic. I prefer to cook with little or no salt, as I find the taste harsh and unpleasant, and if I followed Kimball's recipes exactly I'd be drowning in the stuff. I prefer pepper and tend to double or triple the often meager amounts Kimball calls for in his recipes (usually he calls for four or fives times more salt than pepper, and I tend to reverse those ratios).
The recommendations too, are, of course, all one man's opinion. He speaks harshly of Le Creuset, which is my favorite cookware, despite the expense (don't listen to Kimball: the enamel service is as good or better than non-stick), and frequently raves about plain cast iron which, while I'm sure can be great, takes a great deal of patience to properly season (I've NEVER had any luck doing so), can't be washed in a dishwasher (big downfall, in my opinion) and can easily destroy an induction cooktop (something Kimball fails to even mention).
All of Kimball's cookbooks follow the same basic format: a long-winded, but often interesting, discourse on how Kimball views the "perfect" version of whatever it is he's showing you how to cook, including a lengthy explanation of variations he has tried, followed by his "Master Recipe" for the food. I recommend carefully reading the introduction, focusing on what Kimball considers "perfection," before attempting the recipe, because whether you agree with Kimball's definition of "perfection" is very important as whether this recipe will be a hit with your or not.
In short, if your taste is the same as Kimball's when it comes to a particular food his well-researched and thoroughly-tested recipes will be amazing. But if you don't feel the same way, the "master recipe" won't really work for you. For instance, I like my cookies more "blonde" and chewy than Kimball and his team, so his cooking times/methods aren't exactly to my specifications.
But my biggest problem with Kimball cookbooks is this: If you have one, you have them all. He lifts whole passages and recipes and uses them in multiple books. "The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook," and the "Cook's Bible," for instance, have at least 50 identical recipes, not to mention verbatim introductions to each section and cookware recommendations repeated word-for-word. "The Best Recipe" features ALL of the recipes (as far as I can tell) from the "Cook's Bible," with the same commentary, which is, in turn, lifted in whole chunks from past issues of "Cooks Illustrated." I'm sure this saves Mr. Kimball a great deal of time when compiling his cookbooks but it leaves little reason to own more than one edition of his work. The "Dessert Bible" follows this same somewhat annoying pattern, featuring duplicates of basically every recipe in the "Cook's Bible" and "The Best Recipe." I'd say at least half, maybe more, of the recipes are duplicates--something you should be aware of, especially if you already own one or both of the above cookbooks, before you buy.
That having been said, the "Dessert Bible" does expand enough on Kimball's earlier works for me to recommend it to cooks with serious sweet toohs. Occasional kitchen goers would probably be better served with "The Best Recipe," Kimball's best cookbook to date.
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