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The Dessert Bible Hardcover – October 24, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The best part of The Dessert Bible is not the recipes--although they are wonderful--it's that Kimball, the founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated, shares his discovery process. You feel as though you are standing right next to him in his kitchen while he puzzles out the best lemon bar recipe. How do you make a bar that's zippy but not too sweet? How far should a Fallen Chocolate Cake fall? Can you substitute nondairy creamer in Crème Anglaise? (A resounding no!) Step by step, Kimball walks you through his experimentations, sharing both the triumphs and the failures. Cornstarch may beautifully thicken your lemon curd but it'll taste metallic. Each recipe is fronted by several paragraphs or pages of Kimball's baking process. He tells you which ingredients he tried and what happened. After each recipe are variations and a section called "What Can Go Wrong?" that points out common mistakes and misconceptions. The Dessert Bible covers cookies; brownies and bars; cakes, frostings, and glazes; brioche and fritters; pies, tarts, and fruit desserts; soufflés, puddings, and custards; frozen desserts; and restaurant desserts to make at home. In addition, several chapters offer tips and techniques on baking, baking sheets and pans, utensils, and kitchen appliances. "If The Dessert Bible provides you with a solid knowledge of dessert making," says Kimball, "you will gain the confidence to think for yourself in the kitchen, balancing a healthy mistrust of recipes (even mine) with enough common sense to rely on your own experience." --Dana Van Nest

From Publishers Weekly

Devil's Food Cake is a classic American dessert that every serious baker should know, but it is also one of the most challenging recipes to authenticate. In his new book, Kimball (The Cook's Bible) thoroughly demystifies this timeless treat and many others, with an occasional history lesson and a food-lover's commitment to quality gastronomy. Those familiar with Cook's Illustrated magazine (of which Kimball is founder, editor and publisher) will recognize his meticulous approach. Test charts neatly display the results of empirical equipment and ingredients tests. Techniques are described in great detail and illustrated masterfully with simple yet precise drawings. The recipes include humble basics like bars and cookies, standards like pies and cakes, and more difficult items such as souffl?s, custards and even famous restaurant-style desserts. Kimball begins by defining the essence of a particular dessert, often citing recipes from other well-known baking authorities. He then carefully deconstructs each of the basic elements, explains alterations and still manages to respect different tastes. The final master recipe combines great teaching skill and a fresh, unpretentious style to deliver a truly authentic pleasure. Seasoned bakers will appreciate his zeal to learn "what makes desserts work, what makes them fail, and why." The detailed knowledge base and solid master recipes in this valuable instructional compendium will inspire many.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316496987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316496988
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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, including kitchenware recommendations. 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 Kimbell's recipes exactly I'd be drowning in the stuff. I prefer pepper and tend to double or triple the often meager amounts Kimbell 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). He also highly recommends an electric rice cooker which is, perhaps, the least useful tool in my kitchen and is quite scornful of breadmakers, an appliance I use several times a week quite happily.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the first cookbook I've read which has turned me on to the science of food-making in a clear, understandable, and fool-proof way. It is liberating to realize that broccoli tastes best when steamed 7 minutes (this is really true), that I can make truly amazing salad greens (I can't stop eating them) if I dress them with WHITE balsamic in a 4-to-1 ratio with fine olive oil--I add a teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary and cracked pepper; and that a perfect roast chicken can be achieved by simply brushing the skin with butter and turning two times. By following along with his scientific method of figuring out what tastes best, I've also found that I've picked up an understanding of cooking that has allowed me to experiment more in the kitchen, and get creative--which is half the fun of it, after all.
Kimball's recipes focus on bringing out the best qualities of the food being prepared, rather than relying on sauces, cheeses, etc. to make it taste good. My snobbiest cooking friends have tasted food I've made from this book and commented on its deliciousness. I highly recommend it, especially to people who want to learn the hows and whys of cooking to become better, more creative cooks.
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Format: Hardcover
James Beard brought fine cooking to the American kitchen. Christopher Kimball has continued in this tradition.
This book provides not simply near perfect recipes but a guide to both the experienced cook and the novice on how to prepare them. The sections on the selection of kitchen equipment are wonderful. He presents his recommendations on what you need not only in the generic, but the specific.
Some of what he advocates, you may disagree with. I know that I can put a finer edge on a knife with a good steel than I can with the recommended electric knife sharpener. However, the knife sharpener is necessary when the edge no longer responds to the steel.
In no case will you go wrong with his recommedations (except for the waffle recipe). It does need more oil.
For anyone starting to learn to cook or wanting to learn to cook better, this is a priceless resource. I cannot recommend it more strongly. If I had only one cookbook in my kitchen, this would be it. The second would, of course, be James Beard American Cooking.
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Format: Hardcover
I have had The Dessert Bible for a number of weeks now, and have meant to write a review for at least as long, but each time I sit down with the book to gather my thoughts, I get lost once again in the crisp writing, the tips, and the odd bits of knowledge and inside information that Christopher Kimball provides along with his excellent recipes. This book is terrific simply to sit down and read for pleasure and edification (how can I resist such things as Case # 48 on beating egg whites, entitled "Better Whipping Through Chemistry"?), but it is also great for hands-on cooking. I am not a very accomplished cook, and not a particularly brilliant baker, but the recipes I have tried from this book have come out really well, without the pain and angst than I might have thought necessary. In part this is due to the fact that the recipes (delicious) have been thoroughly tested and improved upon, in part it is due to the general guidance provided by the author, and the theory he offers to support his practices and methods; I find knowing how and why things work or don't contributes to my sense of confidence in cooking, and especially in making desserts, which is for me esspecially daunting. I particularly love the charts detailing his experiment results, and the "What Can Go Wrong?" sections, and I find the drawings and illustrations of techniques to be a welcome relief from posed pictures of beautiful food that taunt one with their perfection!
This is an excellent dessert cookbook, aptly named a "bible," and it would make an inspired Christmas present for a thoughtful, creative person, regardless of his or her talent in the kitchen. Highly recommend it.
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