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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't need any other dessert reference (details), February 24, 2010
This review is from: Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes (Hardcover)
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What most struck me about this work is that, even though these dishes have supposedly come into the author's head over the past thirty years (he says), each of these recipes are clearly right up-to-date and of the 21st Century, quite typical of California chefing. I review and give away lots of cooking and baking books, but I'll be hoarding this little treasure for myself. Every day I cook meals from scratch and I'm very much impressed with this dessert recipe collection.

Author David Lebovitz is a pastry chef who garnered much of his guidance from the Chez Panisse Cafe, (a highly-renowned Berkeley, California venue), an eatery from which many other terrific cookbooks have emanated. Here's my favorite of them all, authored by the restaurant's founder: Chez Panisse Vegetables. In any case, Lebovitz has assembled 172 dessert recipes here, most of which feature mercifully brief ingredient lists. These are recipes which can pretty much all be easily managed by home cooks of moderate experience.

Here is a breakdown of the recipes:

-- Cakes (29 recipes)
-- Pies, Tarts, and Fruit Desserts (29 recipes)
-- Custards, Soufflés, and Puddings (16 recipes)
-- Frozen Desserts (32 recipes)
-- Cookies and Candies (30 recipes)
-- Basic Sauces and Preserves (36 recipes)

The recipes themselves are rendered one or two to a page and since the book format is large (8 1/2" x 11" x 3/4") it's quite easy to follow the instructions as you cook or bake. In fact, I cannot actually recall having seen a nicer recipe layout. I'm reviewing an advance proof edition so the photos in my copy are in black-and-white. It may be the plan of the publisher to print them in color at some point but honestly, it makes no difference to me. These photographs (by Maren Caruso) are crystal clear and I can discern with no difficulty whatever what the finished dishes are supposed to look like. There isn't a picture for every dessert but for the ones where you most need direction, they're there.

There are 274 pages in all which includes an Introduction, tips on equipment and supplies, and so on. Other advanced cooking tips are described in the Appendix.

I found these desserts to be both innovative and inspiring -- toffee puddings, cream pies, sorbets, and numerous old standbys (which have been artfully tweaked to contemporary culinary standards) such as ginger cake and macaroons proliferate this fine cookbook. I should also add that ingredient measurements are conveyed in two ways, by Avoirdupois increments (American standard measurement) and by the metric system.

Most important to me, the author expresses the imperative value in utilizing only the best available ingredients in preparing these wonderful dishes -- I don't see emphasis on this important point much elsewhere and I was pleased to see it here as I heartily agree with this culinary philosophy. Having now read the book from cover to cover, I liked every single recipe in here and I've already made two of the desserts, both of which turned out great.

I feel compelled to say that any erudite home cook or professional chef will benefit from the recipes in this, Lebovitz's most recent dessert book. Highly recommended.
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