Why do people feel the need to distinguish that they like to cook, but will often add "But I don't bake"? Baking is cooking, yet many people dislike it because it's too precise, it doesn't allow for improvisation or they've experienced too many baking failures. Whatever the excuse, even non-bakers will enjoy Alice Medrich's latest cookbook Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts.
Medrich has authored 11 other cookbooks, including two James Beard award winners, and Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, which won an IACP award last year. If you have an irrational fear of baking, there is no better guide to lead you into uncharted territory. But this book isn't just for novices, with time-saving recipes like Medrich's one bowl chocolate cake, and new twists on old classics, such as food processor chocolate mousse and coffee flavored flan, even seasoned bakers will find value in the ease and innovation of many recipes.
The introduction of Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts includes suggestions for stocking your pantry and "7 great things to have," listing Medrich's favorite kitchen tools. Once your pantry is stocked, Medrich points you to several recipes for pantry-friendly desserts which you can make with what you have on hand--such as gingerbread cake, chocolate pudding, brownies and other basics. She lists "magic ingredients" like rose water, specialty sugars, fortified wines, and savory staples such as black peppercorns and extra virgin olive oil, which take a simple dessert to sublime with an extra boost of flavor.
There are chapters on ice cream, fruit desserts, pudding, quick pies, tarts, and meringues, cakes, and a miscellaneous chapter on "sweet bites." Throughout this cookbook are instructional and informative pages, notes, and sidebars. The cake chapter includes a mini tutorial with advice for preparing your oven and pans, weighing ingredients, how to read the recipe, and more. There is a page of ideas for how to change-up a standard chocolate cake, like substituting some vegetable oil for the butter for an extra-moist cake, or adding some shredded beets for moisture and a red velvet cake effect.
Recipes include both volume and weight measurements, but most also include variations to the recipe if you want to substitute spices, fruit or other ingredients. In each chapter there are also dozens of bonus recipes and ideas. The ice cream chapter includes recipes for several chocolate sauces and caramel sauces, plus recipes for ice cream toppings like praline, dessert croutons, and cookie crunches.
Another time-saving and foolproof benefit of this book includes Medrich's press-in crumb crusts for all the tarts. She's taken the fearful component of pies and tarts completely out of the picture. None of the crusts are rolled--simply make the dough, then press it into the pan. Even her recipe for linzer torte gets simplified, by grating the crust over the top or the torte instead of the painstaking, time-consuming task of making a lattice topping.
Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts isn't a "baking for dummies" book, but rather a well-written, concise, yet informative cookbook packed with recipes you can experiment with while still getting a delicious, beautiful dessert for your family or guests. With recipes for cold desserts for hot nights, or hot desserts for cool nights, this book with give you a year's worth of desserts, if not more.