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Dessert cookbook for gift

I need to round out a wedding present. The groom's sister told me the bride loves dessert cookbooks, so I'm including the Tartine Cookbook and I would like to include at least one more.

What are people's avorites? They can be favorites for different reasons:

-a classic with great recipes (Cake Bible?)
-a coffee table stunner with amazing photos (?)
-a relative new comer to the scene (I think I covered that with Tartine)
-something unusual?

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  1. I find the recipes in the Moosewood Restaurant Dessert Cookbook to be consistently excellent. It's not a glossy book but the resulting treats are delicious and not too complicated.

    1. I have the Tartine book and it is beautiful and full of lovely desserts and breads (croissants, tarts, cakes). I also have one by the Bay Bread Company in SF (they make my favorite canneles).

      Another good baking book is Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Plenty of good cakes and cookies in there.


      2 Replies
      1. re: leanneabe

        Another vote for Baking From My Home To Yours.

        1. re: valerie

          I'll vote for Baking From My Home to Yours as well! I've baked 5 recipes from the book and they have all turned out wonderfully. Dorie writes in a friendly tone and provides clear, specific instructions.

      2. How about "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs" by Gale Gand? Or "Bittersweet" by Alice Medrich?

        5 Replies
        1. re: debit

          I second the Greenspan book and don't see how you could go wrong with Claudia Flemming's The Last Course (unless she already has it)

          1. re: Candy

            Claudia Fleming's book is wonderful - but it is out of print. The cheapest available copy on Amazon right now is $199.00!!

            Another wonderful book is "The Essential Baker" by Carole Bloom.

            1. re: flourgirl

              In a reasonable world, Fleming's book would NEVER be out of print. I've been cooking for a zillion years (or so it often seems), and The Last Course is one of my top five or six favorite cookbooks. My cooking buddy and I regularly try new recipes from it. Just this weekend I had dinner at her new venture...a restaurant and inn on the North Fork of Long Island that she, her husband, and another couple bought last year. Her signature composed desserts were on the menu, and five of us swooned over a course we usually don't bother with.

              Interesting to know I'm sitting on a precious item...although I'm sure the stained pages in my book would decrease its value substantially below $199.

              1. re: Old Spice

                I don't know - those stains may not make a difference - that $199 was the LOWEST price on a copy available - I believe the asking prices go up in to the $600s.

                And I agree, I have a copy as well, and I would never consider selling it.

          2. re: debit

            Butter Sugar Flour Eggs is a great dessert book--my copy is completely beaten up from all of the times I have used it. The King Arthur Flour Baking Companion also has a lot of great desserts.

          3. I really like "Baking with Julia" I've had really good results with everything that I've made from it.

            1 Reply
            1. I received a copy of How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson, for my bridal shower. This book inspired me to bake!

              2 Replies
              1. re: jcd

                I do love this book, and it would be fun as part of a wedding gift.

                1. re: JasmineG

                  Don't you just love Nigella? She is so real and unpretentious. I've not made a lot of her recipes, I have the Summer book and How to Eat. I need to get into them more but hot steamy weather has me making Vietnamese food.

              2. I love "The Secrets of Baking" by Sherry Yard. It's beautiful and glossy, but also one of the most useful books I've ever found. Not only does it contain a lot of great recipes and tips, it's pretty much an 'intro to pastry' textbook as well. Her explanations of how different ingredients function together, the effects they have on her desserts, and why does what when are really helpful when it comes to really understanding how to put together a dessert.

                1. A second vote for Julia and a steer AWAY from The Cake Bible. I have done a lot of baking in my time and treated myself to a copy of that book last year. Frankly, I found it daunting...

                  I did see that there is to be a re-release of the Silver Palate/New Basics books...they have some FINE desserts!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: LJS

                    Oh, I know what you mean about steering away from Cake Bible! Yes, the directions are precise, the ingredients are provided in weight as well as volume, baking is an exact science, this book lets you do foolproof baking, blah-blah-blah. But you know, I just find the book so....dry and joyless. Nigella's baking recipes don't always work (especially the U.S. version, after the conversions), but I really dig that "Just bung it in the oven, darlings" attitude.

                    Oooh, you mention Silver Palate. Love their lemon cake and carrot cake!

                    1. re: TheGloaming

                      Yes, Gloaming, "joyless" thats exactly the word...now speaking of joy-filled books (with desserts). I wonder if you can still get the "Beat This" and "Beat That" Books by Elizabeth Hodgeman?-wonderful for a bride...and the best brownie recipe, the most fantastic lemon squares...and those (corny,but amazing) cinnamon rolls.

                      1. re: LJS

                        I agree. The Cake Bible contains a wealth of information yada yada yada but it's just not fun to read and work from.

                        1. re: flourgirl

                          Okay. I’ll bite. RLB advocate here. I like that she’s persnickety. I find it both enlightening and helpful to know that for a particular recipe the butter needs to be 65 degrees. I like that she tells you exactly what might go wrong, how to prevent it, and how to rescue it if it does. I like that she tells you just how long a cake can sit on the counter, in the fridge, in the freezer. In fact, I think far too many books neglect that information. And I also like that she gives weights. That’s the way I bake. I’m annoyed when baking recipes don’t include them. Sure, there are some recipes I’m never going to attempt. A caramel cage? I don’t think so. But for those I have tried, and I’ve tried many, the results are simply outstanding. The Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte with Raspberry Sauce? I actually got a marriage proposal out of that one. And just the other day I made my grandson, who insists on all vanilla all the time, her All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake with Mousseline Buttercream for a birthday cake. A couple of guests told me it was the best non-chocolate layer cake they’d ever eaten. For results like that, I’m more than happy to put up with a dry, didactic tone.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            A marriage proposal? Okay, I'm going to have to make that torte. (I'm already married, but it never hurts to remind them sometimes of some of the reasons WHY they married you...:)

                            1. re: JoanN

                              A marriage proposal!? And to think that my RLB book's been collecting dust on my book shelf, while I waste time experiencing the horrors of online dating! Chocolate Oblivion, here we come.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I'm also pro-Cake Bible, though I agree it's not for those who don't like that style of baking/writing. It's not for someone who's never made a cake certainly. And I disagree that's it's boring. The recipes have quaint little stories, but I loved but was saddened by the story about her brother's wedding cake getting eaten at the airport b/c of a snow storm. It's another kind of cookbook.

                                Also, I haven't finished the thread but what about Chez Panisse desserts?

                                1. re: bbc

                                  depending on how you look at it, rlb's books are *joyless* on one hand-- on the other hand they are methodical, thoughtful, meticulous. i enjoy her books alongside other baking books because i find her no less passionate for being measured and scientific. it's just a difference between her chosen method and those of others. i do like her books, but maybe wouldn't choose to give them as a gift, unless i knew the recipient was an organized, passionate, & scientific baker.

                      2. I have the "Pie" cookbook by Ken Haedrich. I love it. I made peach turnovers last week, from the book, and everyone loved them. The book is interesting to read and has a lot of great tips in it.

                        Haven't made a bad pie yeat and I have tried about 15 of the 300 different pies in the book.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: adventuresinbaking

                          I have this book too and have yet to bake anything from it - waaaay too many baking/dessert books (it's kind of a sickness with me) - not enough time :). You have inspired me to pull it off the shelf and try making those peach turnovers. Yum.

                        2. favorites: baking in america, greg patent; baking with julia; holiday baking book, beatrice ojakangas, nick malgieri's perfect pastry, how to bake, & his other books too

                          1. Bernie Clayton's Complete Book of Pies and Pastry is a good book to own.

                            1. Small Batch Baking might be a fun addition. I've tried 6 -8 recipes and they turn out perfectly.

                              1. Here are a few of my favorite books (in no particular order) that I love to bake from and drool over. I've tried to include a little of everything, general home baking, technical, restaurant, lovely pictures, etc.

                                Chocolate and Confections - Peter Greweling and CIA
                                The Professional Pastry Chef - Bo Friberg
                                A Passion for Desserts - Emily Luchetti
                                The Sweet Life - Kate Zuckerman
                                The Secrets of Baking - Sherry Yard
                                Chocolate Obsession - Michael Recchiuti
                                The Baker's Dozen - Rick Rodgers ed.
                                The Cake Book - Tish Boyle
                                Baking from My Home... - Dorie Greenspan

                                1. My vote would go to one of Emily Luchetti's books. A Passion for Dessert is a great book and a good read...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: cyberroo

                                    I love Emily Luchetti's books. "A Passion for Dessert" is wonderful. Really good photos too.

                                    1. re: cyberroo

                                      The Luchetti books have recently been reissued in a combination book, I think.

                                      1. re: wally

                                        I believe that the new book "Classic Stars Desserts" features a combination of recipes from the previously issued "Stars Desserts" and "Four-Star Desserts". "A Passion for Desserts" is a separate book not covered in this reissue. (I have "Classic Stars Desserts" and haven't baked out of it yet, but based on the popularity of the previous two books, I'm sure it will be a winner.) But it does not contain nearly the amount of lavish photos that "A Passion for Desserts" has. That's why I think this might make a better gift than the other Luchetti books - it has it all - great read, great recipes and eye candy too.

                                    2. The old Betty Crocker Cooky Book has been re-issued here lately. I realize cookies aren't exactly high-class baking, but they're good and they're fun.

                                      I got a book for my wedding called "Book of Tarts." It's very pretty, although since I'm not much of a baker I haven't actually ever made anything out of it.

                                      1. I love my copy of Luscious Chocolate Desserts by Lori Longbotham. It's filled with beautiful pictures (it's done by Chronicle Books, who always seems to be good with the eyecandy, bookwise), informative tips and tricks, and great recipes. So, great to bake with, and keep on the coffee table. (:


                                        1. Simple Art of Perfect Baking (title? i think that's it) by Flo Braker

                                          Very similar to cake bible but doesn't have the joylessness that others referred to (and I agree, cake bible lacks joy, to me)

                                          1. Malgieri's How to Bake is excellent and I do love the Sharfffen Berger Chocolate book that came out last Dec. Also the Green and Black cookbook. Both have savory recipes as well as desserts.

                                            1. just remembered this one!


                                              in addition to being a beautiful book w great photos of both desserts and historic eastern european coffee houses, the recipes are great (& traditional), and it's fun to read from a historical/food geek standpoint.

                                              1. I love In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley. I can think of only one disappointment from that book. And my husband's two favorite desserts are from that book: Little Lime Soaked Coconut Cakes and Sweet Potato Cake with Rum-Soaked Raisins and Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting.

                                                There's also a lot of good introductory information (almost the first half of the book) about equipment, ingredients, techniques, substitutions, flavors, etc... in the beginning.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: msbo78

                                                  msbo78--Sorry that this is coming so late but I just took In the Sweet Kitchen out of the library and would like to know which recipe was the disappointment for you. Also, any other favorites? Thanks!

                                                2. Payard all the way. Gorgeous photos, and the recipes are both delicious and fairly straightforward. I love making chocolate souffle fron this one - it's super-easy, and people are always really impressed. Another favorite is his apple cake - buttery & delicious.

                                                  1. Many excellent suggestions already. To those I'd add the dessert books by Maida Heatter, and the ones put out by King Arthur Flour.

                                                    And I hesitate to recommend this because I don't even own it, but it's on my Amazon.com wishlist and it looks like a fun gift book. It's "Lost Desserts" by Gail Monaghan. Does anybody know this book?

                                                    1. Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker's American Desserts is a lot of fun. I used to live near the Magnolia Grill and loved to have desserts there. I have made a bunch of these recipes, and they've all been lovely. It's a nice book and it's definitely NOT $199. :)