I am a confessed sugar addict and chocoholic who loves to bake and eat, so I’ve been excited to follow the new cookbooks that focus specifically on sweets, often fabulous new takes on old, familiar recipes and with unusual combinations of spices and ingredients. As the season of graduation and summer parties approaches, I am sure these books will have you busy in your kitchen.
Sweet: Desserts from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ten Speed Press, 2017)
In this stunning book focusing on desserts, famed Israeli-born and London-based chef, restaurateur and bestselling cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi (who was known, up until now, for his creative vegetable concoctions) teamed up with pastry chef Helen Goh, a Malaysian who moved to Australia with her family and then on to London to join him, to offer a collection of international recipes to indulge yourself with. The combinations of flavors, such as in the Tahini and Halva Brownies, will knock your socks off. The book offers recipes for cookies, mini-cakes, full-sized cakes, cheesecakes, tarts and pies, and includes a section on baker’s tips and ingredients, as well as notes about things the authors believe are useful and interesting to know. The photographs, like the recipes, are stunning.
Ottolenghi shares, “I was headed for a career in academia when I decided to take a gap year to study cookery at Le Cordon Bleu in London—that year stretched to the present, and while I’ve been known more for savory flavors than sweet, my first professional job was assisting the pastry chef in a London restaurant. So Sweet is actually a return to my roots, and a book I’ve long wanted to write, especially after meeting the phenomenal Helen Goh—we’ve got a bit of a mind meld when it comes to baking and beyond.”
The Perfect Scoop, Revised and Updated: 200 Recipes for Ice Creams, Sorbets, Gelatos, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz (Ten Speed Press, 2018)
Do you know the difference between ice creams, sorbets, gelatos and granitas? If not, this book, a revised and updated version of David Lebovitz’s 2007 bestseller, one of the most popular ice cream books ever, will get it all in order for you. It is a comprehensive collection of homemade frozen desserts, with a plethora of new flavors to explore. Included in this updated collection are dozens of new recipes accompanied by beautiful photographs and a new design. The recipes range from classic (Chocolate-Peanut Butter) to sophisticated (Labneh Ice Cream with Pistachio Sesame Brittle) flavors with no-fail techniques. All your favorite comfort flavors are here, too. Lebovitz has added a section on frozen cocktails, as well as one on sauces, toppings and mix-ins. With step-by-step instructions, hints, tips, basic techniques and pitfalls to avoid, Lebovitz, a professional cook and pastry chef who has been writing cookbooks for almost 20 years and maintains an award-winning blog about his life in Paris, guides you through the recipes.
BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks (W. W. Norton & Co., 2017)
Many bakers on social media are familiar with Stella Parks’ handle, @BraveTart. An award-winning, formally trained (Culinary Institute of America) pastry chef and contributing writer to many publications, Parks is now the senior editor at Serious Eats. BraveTart, which won the 2018 James Beard Award in the Baking and Desserts category, is a repertoire of her foolproof “homey desserts” and American favorites that incorporate a new, fresh take.
Parks got her baking at a pretty young age: “I loved cutting out biscuits even as a toddler, but I was more influenced by Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines than any famous chef; as I got older, I wanted to leave those training wheels behind and learn to make things from scratch. I think going from boxed cake to homemade cake taught me that anything commercial could be homemade, which gave me an interest in making things like marshmallows and candy bars from scratch too.”
”If I had to summarize my book, I’d say it’s an exploration of the stories and recipes behind traditional American sweets, whether they’re in the realm of old-fashioned home cooking (like lemon meringue pie, yeast raised doughnuts, and fluffy biscuits) of supermarket treats (like Oreos, vanilla wafers, candy bars, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream). I also like to emphasize that it’s more than a collection of recipes, but a deeply researched history of these desserts as well, with over 600 primary sources in a 17-page bibliography. My goal was that even if someone never baked a thing, there would be lots to read and explore even while sitting on the couch.”