baking chez moiWith her groundbreaking bestseller Around My French Table , Dorie Greenspan changed the way we view French food. Now, in Baking Chez Moi , she explores the fascinating world of French desserts, bringing together a charmingly uncomplicated mix of contemporary recipes, including original creations based on traditional and regional specialties, and drawing on seasonal ingredients, market visits, and her travels throughout the country. Like the surprisingly easy chocolate loaf cake speckled with cubes of dark chocolate that have been melted, salted, and frozen, which she adapted from a French chef’s recipe, or the boozy, slow-roasted pineapple, a five-ingredient cinch that she got from her hairdresser, these recipes show the French knack for elegant simplicity. In fact, many are so radically easy that they defy our preconceptions: crackle-topped cream puffs, which are all the rage in Paris; custardy apple squares from Normandy; and an unbaked confection of corn flakes, dried cherries, almonds, and coconut that nearly every French woman knows.

Whether it’s classic lemon-glazed madeleines, a silky caramel tart, or “Les Whoopie Pies,” Dorie puts her own creative spin on each dish, guiding us with the friendly, reassuring directions that have won her legions of ardent fans. (description from publisher)

wintersweetWho says the winter months have to be bleak and barren? Author Tammy Donroe sees this season as an opportunity to stay inside, fire up the oven, and produce decadent desserts from the bounty of wholesome winter ingredients.

Wintersweet encourages readers to make use of fresh, local ingredients for warming seasonal desserts. While summer farmers’ markets are always overflowing with ripe produce, there’s plenty to be had from November to March: squashes and pumpkins, parsnips and carrots, apples, pears, citrus of all types, and feel-good ingredients like nuts, cheese, and chocolate. The fresh and rustic recipes in Wintersweet push the envelope of traditional winter desserts like pumpkin or apple pies with such delicacies as Pear Cranberry Clafouti, Spicy Prune Cake with Penuche Frosting, Tangelo Sorbet, and Goat Cheese Cake with Dried Cherry Compote. Each chapter is devoted to different ingredients, ranging from Persimmons, Pomegranates, and Cranberries to Citrus, Cheese, and Dried Fruits, allowing readers to experiment with new and exciting ingredients for complex and delicious flavors. They taste even better when they can be found near your own backyard; Donroe provides resources for finding the best local farmers’ markets and agricultural centers near you.

Perfect for holiday gatherings or to warm the belly on a cold night, Wintersweet is the perfect dessert companion to make the year’s coldest season a bit more festive. (description from publisher)

brown betty cookbookWhen three generations of African-American women decided to open a bakery in Philadelphia, they had no idea how quickly the accolades would come. With high praise from Rachael Ray magazine and other corners of the culinary world, the Brown Betty Dessert Boutique has found fame with their amazing poundcakes, cheesecakes, pies, and cookies, among other delectable treats.

This delicious cookbook features both the secret recipes that Brown Betty’s fans can’t wait to get their hands on, as well as the personal stories that explain the evocative names of such recipes as Alice’s Two Step and Strawberry Letter. The Brown Betty Cookbook features recipes that combine old-fashioned treats with thrilling contemporary flavors like sweet potato poundcake and dark cherry cheesecake and includes gorgeous and mouthwatering full-color photography throughout.

For home bakers who want to experience the best of Brown Betty in their own homes or dessert-lovers looking for something new, The Brown Betty Cookbook offers both inspiration and delectation. (description from publisher)

Make way, cupcakes—it’s whoopie pie time! Everyone is falling in love with America’s classic sandwich treat—two soft cookies with a creamy filling. Now, baker extraordinaire Claire Ptak takes the humble whoopie pie to new heights in The Whoopie Pie Book.

Here are 60 irresistible recipes—made with fresh, seasonal ingredients—that show home bakers how to make the components for more than two dozen distinctive, flavorful whoopie pies from Classic flavors to frozen varieties to holiday-themed desserts that are sure to become favorites.

The Whoopie Pie Book will inspire and guide every time the whoopie-pie urge hits! (description from publisher)

This beautiful book, The Viennese Kitchen by Monica Meehan, based on an original notebook and recipe journal of a 1900s baroness, takes readers on a journey through fin de siecle Viennese high society.

With over 100 original recipes, all of which have been tested and brought up to date for the modern cook, it is not only a wonderful collection of recipes but also a fascinating look at the life of a Viennese family. Filled with anecdotes and personal stories to bring the recipes to life, this book is a charming insight into a bygone era. The classic recipes cover a variety of dishes both savory and sweet, with a strong emphasis on the desserts and pastries for which Vienna is famed. Enchanting photographs of Vienna grace the book, capturing the architecture, cafe culture, and beauty of this elegant city.

One Sweet Cookie by Tracey Zabar is a delectable collection of cookie recipes from New York’s best chefs, pastry chefs, and bakers. Cookies are the perfect end to a wonderful meal from one-bite meringues and macaroons that melt in your mouth to linzers and tuiles that are the ultimate fanciful confections.

Tracey Zabar has selected distinctly original cookie recipes from seventy-five of the very best culinary talents in Manhattan. Some are the chefs’ personal recipes, while others are the signature creations of top restaurants such as Le Cirque, Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Artisanal and City Bakery. This irresistible array of more than ninety cookie recipes for the home baker includes butterscotch and oatmeal cowboy cookies from Chef Mario Batali and his son Benno; coconut macaroons from master baker Sarabeth Levine; a chocolate chip cookie invented by Chef Todd English of Olives that combines his children’s favorite chocolate flavors with walnuts; Chef Jason Weiner of Almond’s rugelach; and Eli Zabar’s tempting buttery sugar cookies. There are also international cookies-Jammy Dodgers from England, wedding cookies from Puerto Rico, Kipferl from Austria, and Lamingtons from Australia.

This beautifully photographed book will not only appeal to discriminating dessert lovers but also to fans of New York City’s culinary scene, the cookie-swap aficionado, and the bake-sale maven.

I am going to admit to what many people would consider a glaring character flaw: I’m not a big fan of pies. Except for my Mother’s Apple Crisp pie and the Raisin Cream Pie at the Ox Yoke Inn in Amana (don’t ask), I can pass on pie. Well, here’s a book that might just change my mind.

Perfect Pies by Michele Stuart covers a whole range of sweet and savory delights. Ranging from “Farm Stand Pies” (which use fresh fruit) to “Nut Pies” to “Cream Pies”, “Party Pies” to “Savory Pies”  just about every pie craving can be met with this book. Stuart has won multiple National Pie Championship Awards and it shows in her attention to detail. However, don’t be scared off – she favors simple and straightforward to fancy and show-off, allowing the flavor of excellent ingredients to shine through. There are also chapters on making the perfect crust and creating little extras such as whipped creams and sauces.

The hard part is going to be which pie to start with – Chocolate-Pecan-Bourbon Pie? Michele’s Mud Pie? Ultimate Banana Split Pie? Or the classic – Country Apple Pie? Decisions, decisions….

 

We’re lucky here in the Quad Cities to have one of the best ice cream makers in the country right on our doorstep, but there’s nothing quite as sublime as homemade ice cream – sweet and creamy, mixed to your taste with your favorite ingredients. Learn how to take your ice cream up a step into artistry with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. You’ll never look back.

Each recipe in this book has been repeatedly tested by Jeni at home using only readily available home equipment. She shows that unique flavor combinations and creamy consistency are easily in reach. Lots of yummy pictures, friendly practical advice and personal stories make this book a pleasure to read. As well as ice cream, there are recipes for frozen yogurt and sorbets and suggestions for decadent desserts – such as a “Tuscan Sundae” made up of Salty Carmel ice cream, honey and vin santo sauce, biscotti and whipped cream.

Just reading through the names of the flavors is addicting and fun. Who could resist “Baked Alaska Pie Ice Cream”, “Watermelon Lemondae Sorbet” or “Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream”. And though I think I”ll pass on the “Cucumber, Honeydew and Cayenne Frozen Yogurt”  and the “Celery Ice Cream”, call me the minute you make “The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World”. I’ll bring my own spoon.

Really? I need to talk you into looking at this book? Because, who isn’t ready for dessert, especially the delectable desserts presented here?

Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz is arranged by type of dessert – Cakes; Pies, Tarts and Fruit Desserts; Custard, Souffles and Puddings; Frozen Desserts; Cookies and Candies; and  Basics. You’ll find a lot of standard favorites with interesting flavor twists, ideas for variations, and storage tips (as if these desserts are going to last long enough to need to be stored!)

A sampling of recipes in this book: Watermelon-Sake Sorbet, Apple-Frangipane Galette, Chocolate Orbit Cake, Passion Fruit Pound Cake, Cheesecake Brownies, and Nectarine-Berry Cobbler with Fluffy Biscuits.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I dare you to look through this book and not find something you must make, and make as soon as possible.

Making Artisan GelatoGelato. If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know how special it is. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about eating it at least once a day during her stay in Italy in Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a bit exotic and deliciously decadent but now, thanks to Making Artisan Gelato by Torrance Kopfer, you can make it at home as easily as ice cream. If you’re concerned about details, gelato is similar to ice cream, but contains less butterfat and has more air whipped into it. The important thing to know is that it’s sweet and incredibly delicious.

The first half of this beautifully photographed book covers all the basics – history, how to choose the best ingredients, equipment (gelato can be made in your ice cream maker), techniques and ideas for combining flavors. Then comes the fun part – recipes! They range from easy (raspberry, pistachio, French vanilla) to moderate (macadamia nut, dark chocolate-orange, espresso) to challenging (caramel, peanut butter cup, chocolate-cinnamon) There are familiar flavors – cookies and creme – and there are more exotic flavors – blueberry lavender. There are also recipes for sorbets and granitas and several decadent toppings and toppings. Through it all Kopfer guides you with a steady hand and friendly voice. Go ahead and treat yourself!