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One of the other reviewers noted that there were a lot of recipes that were pretty standard in this collection. Probably a quarter of this book is already covered in something basic like
Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition - 2006
. Given Lebovitz's European influences, I was hoping for lots of new things. I will say that the chocolate chip cookie recipe is very good. It uses much less sugar than most American recipes, so the other flavors really shine. This is a personal thing, but there were several recipes that used a lot of banana, and I'm not a fan of banana. That may be clouding my judgment here. So, some really good recipes, but it's not going to be sitting on my top shelf.
I strongly recommend that you look through this book at a bookstore or library before deciding whether to buy it. While I don't regret buying it, if I had done that, I probably wouldn't have bought the book in the first place. I got this book a few weeks ago and I've already tried several recipes from it. They have all turned out really well. He includes a recipe for something with lemon and the blurb before the recipe says that he believes there are chocolate dessert people and lemon dessert people. Well, David is unabashedly a chocolate person and after making a few of the chocolate desserts, I've realized that I am a lemon person. If the thought of an intensely rich chocolate cake doesn't make you drool, it's not worth getting this book. There is also an entire chapter on frozen desserts and there are only 2-3 of them that you can make without an ice cream maker. So if you don't have an ice cream maker, that whole chapter would be pretty much useless to you. There are also a lot of recipes that call for ingredients that are hard to find (persimmons, quince, fresh figs, etc.) further chipping away at the number of recipes from the book that I'm likely to try. Finally, I read David's blog regularly and I have noticed quite a few recipes on the blog say "adapted from" this book. So read those recipes first, before you buy this book.
Meeh. I was expecting a lot from this book because of David Lebovitz. However, I'm not very happy with it. I'm not a professional baker, I'm a home baker. I just enjoy baking, so I have a lot of cookbooks that I try new recipes every day. I tried 2 recipes from this book, one of them was pavlova and the other one was creme caramel. both of them didn't worked out. they were both delicious but their texture was not right. even though they tasted really good, my pavlova was so flat and my creme caramel was so liquid. After these tries, I stopped bothering with this book. Maybe it's something I did, I don't know but I never had this kind of situation before with my other cookbooks. And another thing about this book that didn't fit me was that there are really few photos. Since I'm not a pro, I'd like to see what the product should look like in the end. Some recipes have photos, some don't so it wasn't for me.
The book has many great recipes,but I didn't find very many that appealed to my taste because a lot of them used ingredients that I just don't find so easily and also a lot of alcohol in the ice cream recipes. 'The perfect scoop' is a more comprehensive and useful ice cream dessert book. After trying a couple of recipes with average to good success, I returned it. David lebovitz has an awesome blog and some fantastic books in his line-up. This one just didn't turn out to be as I expected.
I love reading David Lebovitz's blog so I was really looking forward to the book. I was surprised when I discovered that a significant number of the recipes are already published on his blog, with the exact same recipe introduction in some cases. I haven't yet tried any of the recipes from the book, but I expect that they will execute fine.
I see a lot of good recipes in here. I'm thinking this is not the final version of the book, so I won't rate on the awful black and white photos. So the recipes look pretty yummy, but I'm with others in that plenty of the ingredients aren't your normal day-to-day go to the grocery store ingredients. I need practical. I give it a three stars for the yummy recipes.
3.0 out of 5 starsI didn't love it as much as I wanted to
Reviewed in the United States on 13 March 2010
I am a compulsive baker with an embarrassingly large collection of dessert/baking cookbooks. For another book to make it onto the crowded shelves it has to stand out with unique recipes and techniques. While there are many excellent recipes in this collection that I am thrilled to have is there anyone out there who is thinking; if only I had another recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies?
They are stingy with the photographs and it is very disappointing that of the pictures included none are of some of the more elaborate desserts where you would like to see what the final product looks like. Instead there are pictures of chocolate chip cookies, pots de creme, gingersnaps, flan, bread pudding, sorbet and frozen yogurt. That is just plain annoying. I would gladly pay more for a book that is well photographed.
I have a great deal of respect for David Lebovitz and was excited to be one of the first to get a look at his new title. There are some books I can say unequivocally, buy it you will love it. This one I would recommend looking through it first to see if it is something you would enjoy.
*Update: Obviously my comments on the book struck a chord among the obsessive bakers/ cookbook collectors out there. It has been bothering me though that other than my comment on the amount of recipes included that I dismissed as too common most were really complaints the publisher was responsible for. I want to update this review with a response to a question on the quality of the recipes in the discussion section for those who don't usually check in on those...
All recipes I have tried from this book do work, and they are clearly written. Many of the recipes are adaptations of classics with David's spin. I probably did a disservice to David by focusing on the book from my point of view as an accomplished baker comfortable adapting and tweaking recipes to suit my own taste. I think the real strength and value in this book is the amount of tips and advice David provides. It would be great for anyone who would like a book to teach them about baking and dessert making instead of just providing recipes. David's humorous conversational writing style is a big plus too.
This is your average wanna be Martha Stewart dessert book. The recipes range from gingersnap cookies to things like persimmon cake with cream cheese icing or apple-red wine tart. I admit, I am a fan of Martha's books, but there's a reason why. Nothing comes out of Martha's business that isn't astounding. I can read her cookbooks and drool. (and there's pictures for every recipe).
This cookbook - the layout, while clean is just the same as every other dessert book out there, in comparison Sherry Yard's stories for her recipes in "Dessert by the Yard" were half the fun of that book, Lebovitz just didn't capture that `fun-ness'.
The pictures are large and pleasing and I admit I eat with my eyes first and taste buds second. To me a really good cookbook has a picture for every recipe or close to every recipe. Lebovitz has about one picture for every five recipes.
Also, he likes to use alcohol in quite a few of his desserts, and while that's not a bad thing, I never cared for the taste of alcohol in dessert and a few of them don't sound appetizing when you see what's in it (watermelon-sake sorbet is one) so that leaves a good share of them out of what I would make. If you do like alcohol in them, there are many eyecatching ones such as pink grapefruit-champagne sorbet cocktail.
He does have some good recipes that are different and classic at the same time. Nectarine and raspberry upside down gingerbread cake, very good. A different take but at the same time delicious, add some vanilla ice cream and enjoy.
Overall, I give it three stars. A picture for every recipe would have given it another star. But for me I'll stick with Martha or if I want to go really difficult, Sherry Yard. This will most likely sit on the shelf and be taken out once in a while to glance through for a change of pace.