by Marisa Viola
As a magazine, Bon Appétit has long been dear to our hearts, held in the highest esteem for giving gourmet recipes that are written clearly and simply enough to follow, and that don't require a staff of ten to create. Bon Appétit Desserts by editor-in-chief Barbara Fairchild brings together treasured dessert recipes, and is so thorough as to be an inexhaustible cookbook. Nothing is left to chance in this work, and the home cook is guaranteed success with all the 'sweet and wonderful' recipes inside.
Bon Appétit Desserts begins with three comprehensive guides: one to ingredients for a well stocked pantry, one to the equipment necessary to have at hand, and one to techniques. These guides are essential, especially the technique section, which explains the purpose of each step in baking, and what elements will lead to success. As one example, once the reason for creaming sugar is fully understood, the technique is mastered. This makes the process of baking more approachable, albeit one that requires meticulous care.
Bon Appétit Desserts contains nine lengthy and complete chapters organized by type of dessert. Classic desserts, raised to perfection, are in abundance, but so also are recipes that deserve more attention than they get - the luscious pavlova for example. Whether one is looking to understand and master any (or every!) type of cake, pie, cookie, cheesecake, even candy, this cookbook offers guidance and perspective.
Each recipe is rated on a scale of one to four whisks to grade difficulty, and reading the book inspires one to go for the four whisk recipes with confidence and determination. Simple recipes for tea breads and classic pound cakes are lovely, and more sophisticated options, like Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel-Caramel Filling, or Black Pearl Layer Cake (made with wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds) invite you to challenge your skills.
There are recipes for special occasions (such as Hazelnut Gelato Profiteroles with Warm Kahlua Sauce, Pink Peppercorn Pavlovas with Strawberries, Vanilla Cream and Basil Syrup or Chocolate Panna Cotta Layer Cake), as well as every day comfort foods (Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting, Wild Blueberry Pie with Almond Topping, or Coconut Checkerboard Brownies).
One could spend a lifetime mastering the recipes in this book... and make many friends in the process. Every chapter could easily be its own book, each of which has a wide variety of delectable recipes within its given category along with the knowledge that make us feel we can master them all.
Bon Appétit Desserts is destined to be a permanent and well-used cookbook on your shelf. This is also a lavish gift item for one you love. Grab your whisk; pleasure and good eating lie ahead.