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Apr 9, 2008 12:32 PM

DESSERT Cookbook of the Month Suggestions

For a couple of months now, we regular COTM participants have been discussing the idea of having a Dessert Cookbook of the Month. Quite often, people suggest these books, but the majority usually decides that a dessert book for a whole month, especially outside the holiday season, is too specialized for the main cookbook choice.

Sooo, I’m introducing the new “Dessert Cookbook of the Month”! It will run for TWO months instead of just one, alongside the regular thread for COTM.

We’ve had several suggestions already: PURE DESSERT, a new book by Alice Medrich, the owner of the former sweet shop called Cocolat, in Berkeley, CA; several books by David Lebovitz and BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND TEA by Rose Carannini owner of the Rose Bakery in Paris. There are problems with the Rose Bakery book, as it’s difficult to find and isn’t in many libraries. Further, Lebovitz’ book ROOM FOR DESSERT is now out of print, and the copies I’ve been able to find were on Amazon and quite pricy. He does, however, have a wonderful website with recipes, as well as other books.

I think the only dessert cookbooks we’ve had in the past are Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours and Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.

I’d love to hear what suggestions you guys will make, and to see if there’s enough interest to really get this 2 month-long Dessert Cookbook Topic going! I’ll let it run for a couple of weeks and then announce and post a voting thread.

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  1. The one I'd vote for would be "Dolce Italiano." But I don't make desserts that often so I don't know how much I'd participate.

    4 Replies
    1. re: NYCkaren

      That's Dolce Italiano, a cookbook by Gina De Palma, Dessert Chef at Mario Batali's Babbo Restaurant in NYC.

      1. re: oakjoan

        I think you mean DOLCE ITALIANO, by Gina De Palma [g].

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I bought my book when she was selling it at Di Palo, and the two things I tasted (the names of which I don't remember right now) were delicious. I believe JoanN has baked a bit from this book - I don't bake much these days, and have no idea why I bought the book other than I was there and she was there!

          1. re: MMRuth

            The only thing I've made from the book so far is the Honey and Pine Nut Tart pictured on the cover. But a number of people made other recommendations from the book here:


    2. PURE DESSERT or LEBOVITZ' website

      Oops - I guess were not voting yet. But I am interested in those.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jsaimd


        No, we're not, but it's good to get into the habit of writing in CAPS! Thanks.

      2. I think you would find that BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND TEA by Rose Carannini does not fit the category.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yayadave

          Right you are yayadave! She does have some lunch and tea recipes (including a really great braised lamb shank), but it's mostly desserts. In any case, it's hard to find apparently.

        2. I also have PURE DESSERT and DOLCE ITALIANO and would be interested in those.

          Two more:
          THE SWEET LIFE: DESSERTS FROM CHANTERELLE (I've made a number of fantastic desserts from this one)
          DESSERTS BY THE YARD (Sherry Yard's new book with lots of great-looking recipes)

          1. Ok, I guess this topic inspires me because I just searched my library system for "dessert cookbook" and perused through 150+ titles. I can't believe that my library carries some really great and many recent dessert cookbooks! Since this is the initial brainstorm, here are some more suggestions:

            DEMOLITION DESSERTS by Elizabeth Falkner

            PERFECT LIGHT DESSERTS by Nick Malgieri (it promises delicious desserts using real butter, sugar, cream, etc. for under 300 calories per generous serving!)


            VILLAGE BAKER'S WIFE by Gayle & Joe Ortiz (what can I say, their bakery is about 5 min. from where I live)

            TARTINE by Elisabeth Prueitt & Chad Robertson

            Books already mentioned that I'm also interested in:

            ROOM FOR DESSERT (and Lebovitz's website)

            PURE DESSERT


            Thanks, oakjoan, for suggesting this sweet offshoot!

            34 Replies
            1. re: Carb Lover

              I would suggest that a month that pairs Lebovitz's web site and ROOM FOR DESSERT should also include RIPE FOR DESSERT, his book of desserts that include fruit.

              I have PERFECT LIGHT DESSERTS, but haven't made anything from it yet.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                oakjoan, I think we'd just better start a support group for Breakfast Lunch Tea...
                I wonder what happened to all the copies I saw stacked up at Anthropologie when the book was released?

                Agree with the ROOM/RIPE FOR DESSERT books/web combo

                and DOLCE ITALIANO

                I also suggest for the long term of this project
                IN THE SWEET KITCHEN by Regan Daley -- the one or two things I've made from it have been excellent. It's a bit of a tome...

              2. re: Carb Lover

                What's Demolition Desserts all about Carb Lover? It sounds intriguing!

                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Catchy title, right? Well, I haven't actually seen the book yet although I've requested it from my library. It interests me because Elizabeth Falkner is a well-known pastry chef in SF for Citizen Cake and the newish Orson. I think the title reflects her playfulness and creativity w/ desserts.

                  I read the Amazon reviews after I suggested this, and I'm not sure if it's a crowd-pleasing book. The editorial review says it's for seasoned bakers and the buyer reviews are mixed. Some of the mentioned recipes sound intriguing to me though!


                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    The desserts sound right up my alley. The first chapter is a Study on Chocolate Chip Cookies, so it can't all be just for seasoned bakers. As I brought up that Amazon page though, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More: 200 Anytime Treats and Special Sweets for Morning to Midnight by Carole Walter caught my eye. I adore coffee cakes! Has anyone baked from this book?

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      I don't plan on doing any more baking any time soon, but I, too, would love to explore Carole Walter's book on coffee cakes, etc., at some point. I recently made a number of cookies from her cookie book and although I had some caveats about how the recipes were written (see ), the results were very good indeed.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        As I said, I don't plan on doing any baking any time soon. But when I do, I want to do it from this book. Just got it out of the library and it looks terrific. So formally, GREAT COFFEE CAKES, STICKY BUNS, MUFFINS & MORE by Carole Walter.

                      2. re: Katie Nell

                        I've only baked one thing so far from Carole Walter's new book, the banana chocolate chip cake (I added chips AND walnuts - yum.) It was fantastic. Got rave reviews and everyone asking for the recipe.

                      3. re: Carb Lover

                        here's what I hope is a link the Publisher's weekly review of the book
                        (I want the PW cookbook reviewer to be my new best friend)

                      4. re: Katie Nell

                        I do have the Demolition Desserts book and it is intriguing. It might not be for everyone though. First, as an initial impression, it uses a certain amount of gothic anime style cartoons for illustrations. Just a design thing. I'm not sure what I thought of that. Seemed kind of distracting but doesn't go to the quality of the recipes. There are many georgeous photographs. Just luscious.

                        More to the point, many of the desserts, in fact perhaps most of them as I leaf through it now are sort of composed desserts with multiple components. With catchy names.

                        So, for example, there is S'more a Polooza which is "malted hot chocolate, chocolate peanut butter cream, toasted marshmallows, crushed graham crackers and peanut rice curry."

                        Or, there is Cocoshok which is "coconut panna cotta, dark chocolate sauce, walnut-caramel coconut candy, venezuelan-spiced rum-and-lime granita."

                        Another one is Karrot Keiki which is "carrot caketons, cream cheese-currant-walnut balls, pear sesame salad, sesame vinaigrette."

                        Or "Waking Up in a City That Never Sleeps" which is "cheesecake custard, sour cream sorbet, graham cracker powder and blueberry paper."

                        Most are in this vein. Like I said, composed desserts with multiple components.

                        Of course, you don't have to make all the components but could pick and choose.

                        There is one picture here that looks gorgeous and has caught my eye. It is for something called "Shagalicious: and it's a genoise with rum syrup and a passion fruit cream filling and what she calls "coconut shag finish" which is a whipped cream and coconut exterior. That one I have my eye on.

                        If you have questions about the book, I'm happy to check it more for anyone.

                        1. re: karykat

                          The S'more a Polooza was one that caught my eye when I looked at it on Amazon. I don't think it's a good contender for COTM, but the desserts really do sound good, so I think I'm going to check it out anyway! Of course, it will probably end up being the kind of book that I just look at and wish that MMRuth or Carb Lover were here to make the desserts for me! ;-)

                      5. re: Carb Lover

                        I've made a number of items from the Sweet Spot and it's been great. The recipes really seem to cater to my personal tastes.

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          Nice to hear some first-hand support for this book! After reading the Amazon reviews, this book and Lebovitz are probably my top choices.

                          1. re: beetlebug

                            beetlebug -- what kinds of things did you like from the book. I would like to try it, if not now then sometime, and am wondering what worked well.

                            1. re: karykat

                              I've made cookies and cupcakes. The cookies were for my annual christmas cookie giveaway and the cookies from this cookbook were more popular than my other ones.

                              Specifically, the cookies were the coconut chocolate chip cookies (pg. 89) and ginger oatmeal raisin cookies (pg. 91, I subbed dried blueberries for the raisins).

                              The Dragon Devil's Food Cake Cupcakes (pg. 56) were also great. While there was nothing special about the cupcake itself, the frosting was absolutely amazing. Lapsong souchong tea leaves, star anise, bourbon are infused with water. This infusion is mixed in with a chocolate ganache for the frosting. The taste was simply out of this world.

                              Lastly, I also made the watermelon shaved ice with salt and pepper (pg. 208). Essentially, this is a watermelon granita with lemon zest with fleur de sel and pepper. The mixture of sweet and savory gave the granita a different twist. It was extremely refreshing on a hot summers night.

                              I have a lot of recipes tabbed off to try in this book, but since there are only two of us in the house, it doesn't help our waistlines when I make desserts. Neither of us have the will power to not eat the dessert and C doesn't like to share great desserts with either of our co-workers. ;-)

                              1. re: beetlebug

                                These all sound very interesting.

                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    It really is. I'm not a huge frosting eater either. And, thinking about the cupcake portion, it had an interesting texture since you add chopped chocolate to the batter. But, it really was the perfect foil for the frosting.

                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      This book sounds really interesting! I definitely would like to see Sweet Spot be on our list one of these months...


                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        What is it with these cookbook authors and tea? Pure Dessert has a really great chocolate tart which is served with whipped cream infused with jasmine tea. Excellent, by the way.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          Darn it. This recipe also looks great. And, on my way there, I found the recipe for the raspberry chocolate chunk muffins. So much for that waistline.

                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                      That "watermelon shaved ice" sounds like something that would make an interesting jello.

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        Oops. For the watermelon shaved ice, I meant to write lime zest.

                                        That would be an interesting jello. would the salt inhibit the jelling part?

                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                  So I got a few of the above books (Demolition Desserts, Perfect Light Desserts, Tartine, and The Sweet Spot) from my library. After leafing through each, I'd be happy to focus on any of them but my top choices for this time are The Sweet Spot and Demolition Desserts. I love Pichet Ong's modern twist on Asian desserts, and many of the recipes seem doable at home.

                                  Demolition Desserts is definitely a funky and unconventional cookbook w/ anime illustrations, but the layout and desserts look really fun and different. I like Falkner's last paragraph in her acknowledgments:

                                  "This book would not have happened without the works and inspirations from Avery Falkner, Jason Falkner, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, the Cure, Pierre Herme, David Lynch, Martha Stewart, Madonna, Richard Serra, Jean-Paul Gaultier, David Bowie, Quentin Tarantino, Frank Gehry, Marie-Antoiine Careme, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Christine Manfield, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Franz Kline, Masaharu Morimoto, Dif Juz, Cocteau Twins, the Adria brothers at El Bulli, Yoshitomo Nara, Comme des Garcons, Chrome Hearts, and Orson Welles."

                                  I'm sorry to hear the negative reviews on Malgieri's Perfect Light Desserts. At first glance, there are many classic recipes that are naturally light by design or have been slightly modified to be a bit lighter. I often find dessert recipes to call for too much sugar, so I'm interested in trying some of Malgieri's recipes regardless if this book is chosen.

                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                    I think "The Sweet Spot" and "Demolition Desserts" are the two must haves for me. DD has a dessert called "Cherries of the Corn." How's that!?

                                    1. re: yayadave

                                      Yayadave: I think it's a jokey reference to a horror movie called "Children of the Corn". Yeah, that's the way to entice folks to try your recipe! Name it for a nightmarish horror movie! :+)

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        Oh, yes! She has one called "A Chocolate Tart Named Desire." In the book and, apparently on the resto menu "Cherries of the Corn" is written in dried blood colored spooky font. In her write-up on "CotC" she says that two of her staff came up with the name. "That was a great moment, because it made me realize that my co-workers got it when it came to naming our desserts." Reading that made me decide to "get it" too. In a side-bar on this recipe, she recommends "two months before, make the cherries; three days before, make the ice cream; the day before, make the grits; just before serving, pop the popcorn and plate the dessert." Work that out! TeeHee! I'll give you a hint. That is "sweet corn ice cream." Anyway, THE SWEET SPOT and DEMOLITION DESSERTS arrived today and that truly is an overabundance of riches. THE SWEET SPOT is not as off-the-wall, but it's just as unusual.

                                  2. re: Carb Lover

                                    I love Perfect Light Desserts! I know we aren't voting, but I was about to suggest that when I saw this thread.

                                    1. re: wildfire

                                      wildfire, will you please share some of your picks/successes from Perfect Light Desserts?

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        I will acknowledge that I may have been hasty in my judgment of Maglieri's book.

                                        Still would put Pure Desserts as my highest priority.
                                        The almond cake I made from it was great. And so many of the recipes look really good. Sophisticated, letting ingredients shine, quality without being fussy.

                                        Also very interested in the Sweet Spot and some of the others.

                                    2. re: Carb Lover

                                      I made several recipes from Perfect Light Deserts, and they weren't. That book went to Goodwill.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        Thanks for sharing your first-hand experience w/ PLD, pikawicca. Do you remember which desserts were duds for you?

                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                          Sorry, CL, I don't remember. I just know that it was every recipe I tried -- they just didn't work for me. I'd rather have one stellar, high calorie dessert per week than seven mediocre ones, like those in this book.