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Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts Hardcover – November 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Richard's dessert collection--complete with cheerful, perfect-to-make-on-a-Sunday-afternoon recipes such as strawberry cream puffs, cherry clafouti and Linzer tarts--forgoes food photography in lieu of two-color illustrations with a vintage feel, and presents 50 easy-to-follow selections sans highly stylized sidebars and show-stopping chapter openers. The French-born and -trained pastry chef, and Washington, D.C., restaurateur, steers readers toward "pleasure" as opposed to "perfection" when cooking and baking and succeeds in providing "accessible" and "uncomplicated" dessert instructions. Instead of tips, numbered steps, bulleted lists and charts, the author showcases his gift for storytelling and love of pastry and all things sweet in text-heavy pages complete with dialogue. American classics including cherry pie, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies, have their place alongside French favorites such as crepes, meringues, and éclairs in this delightful and timeless title that feels like a small but worthy indulgence. (Dec.)
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Home cooks too often discover that no matter how much effort has gone into preparing a meal, their guests exclaim most over whatever dessert finishes up the evening’s repast. With that in mind, lauded chef Richard has gathered 50 dessert recipes that ambitious cooks may execute in their own home kitchens. Most of Richard’s desserts arise straight out of classic French cuisine. Brioche, génoise, pâte-à-choux, and puff pastry form the starting point for many of Richard’s sweets, but he describes new, less complex ways to achieve success with these standards, and he reduces their richness to conform to contemporary diets. He boldly explores other traditions, producing undeniably American maple parsnip cake and several variations on chocolate chip cookies. His reinvention of pecan pie featuring a crust scented with Madras curry will horrify traditionalists. Essays convey Richard’s rigorous professional training and personal culinary philosophy. --Mark Knoblauch
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This are more than the 50 recipes. He writes of how he became a chef, about the making of desserts and of the ingredients. He also includes a bit about each recipe. He even did the illustrations; there are no photographs in the book.
The recipes usually take up more than one page, which is sometimes a pain when you are trying to follow directions; and the ingredients are printed in a light brown print which for some might be hard to read, hopefully it will not fade.
Our family loves his Haute-meal cookies - for those that think bacon improves anything, even a cookie, and then there is his pineapple coconut upside down cake; both fun to make and even better to serve. So if desserts are your goal, this might be a good book to add to your collection.
Chef Richard intersperses his recipes with endearing anecdotes, cute drawings, and full-blown essays on his history with food and what he has learned from his unceasing experimentation. I particularly enjoyed his homage to microwaves!
I appreciate the chef's inventiveness and his willingness to incorporate nontraditional elements and techniques in his quest for efficiency and ease. I was particularly impressed by the value he places on flavor over sugar and fat. He constantly tries to improve flavor by limiting competing (and unhealthy) tastes.
Richard's classical French training, combined with his decades of experience as a chef in the United States, gives him a unique perspective on food. His contagious curiosity and good humor encourage any would-be cook to get in the kitchen and whip up something fantastic.
When I bake, I tend to find one recipe that I know works, and stick with it. Baking can be very complex, and, as Richard notes, a pastry chef can't taste his dish and add seasoning midway through like a savory chef can. But Richard doesn't rest on his laurels once he has found a good recipe; he constantly attempts to make that dessert better, tastier, and not quite so bad for you.
Michel Richard exhibits playfulness and a true passion for taste, flavor, and texture; I found myself laughing at his anecdotes and making notes of his efficient shortcuts. What's more, he has inspired me to stop playing it safe in the kitchen--the sign of a truly good cookbook!
For a full review, please visit my site, Melody & Words!
My friend gave me this book as an engagement present, and after attempting three recipes over the course of two years, I am getting rid of this book.
I have cooked three recipes from Michel Richard's Sweet Magic, and all three were under-whelming:
1- Choco-Mocha Layer Cake with Marshmellow Buttercream on pg 58- This was soggy and dense, a poor end to a meal.
2- Macadamia Chocolate Chip Cookies on pg 140- These were dry and unmemorable.
3- Chocolate Cups on pg 310- Mr. Richard claims that these are "easy recipes." I followed this step by step. The goal is to produce chocolate cups, with melted chocolate shaped around ice, which should then solidify and easily slide off the ice. The chocolate never solidified around the ice.
Michel Richard claims that "Sweet Magic" contains "Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts." Don't be fooled by the misleading cover or by the name of "Michel Richard." These may look simple enough, but the results are anything but delectable. You can find a more satisfying and impressive cookbook elsewhere.