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Mostly Food & Travel Journal


The Golden Book of Desserts

Gorgeous Desserts

Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts

James Martin Desserts

Mary Berry - Desserts

Perfection in Imperfection

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

The Sweet Life

   Food & Drink

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Food & Drink - Desserts

On this page:


The Golden Book of Desserts

Gorgeous Desserts

Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts

James Martin Desserts

Mary Berry - Desserts

Perfection in Imperfection

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

The Sweet Life

Mary Berry - Desserts

Mary Berry is one of those few cooks who has remained current and popular despite the fads and fashions of the fickle food industry. Mary has over 60 books to her name! Now that must be worth some kind of a medal...or at least a mention on your favourite foodie Internet site. Her perennial appeal relies on quality and hard work, and Desserts is the end result of both those attributes. Mary Berry Desserts

This volume has a wealth of recipes that are guaranteed to work. Mary has been voted among the top 3 by BBC Good Food for the category “Most Reliable Celebrity Cook Books”. Desserts also has the advantage of fine step-by-step photographs. For that reason alone this book should become a best seller. The timid and inexperienced home cook is led painlessly through every stage of the recipe.

Mary covers the whole gamut of desserts. The recipes are divided by type – Special Desserts, Cakes, Pies, etc. I found it difficult to choose some favourites as each recipe is so well presented and photographed by David Murray – he did a superb job. But I managed: I don’t think there is a single sweet delight here that wouldn’t be a winner. One of the easiest of this collection has got to be Cherries Glacés. This is a lovely dessert to make ahead of time, and it’s a stunner. It has a “why didn’t I think of that” order of simplicity. It’s a good illustration of why Mary Berry continues to do what she does, and the rest of us just enjoy the results.

Mincemeat and Pear Flan would be a great alternative to mince pies at Christmas. Once again a simple recipe but Mary manages to think outside the box of tradition. There are still plenty of the usual dessert suspects and this book is given balance by their inclusion.

Desserts is packed with lovely recipes but its strength lies in the detailed instructions. There are several pages of chocolate cake decorations, fancy pastry edges, fruit tartlets, biscuit decoration. Mary has taken as much trouble over presentation as over the desserts themselves. You’ll be producing professional-looking puds with confidence in no time at all.

Desserts is destined to become a standard. It’s an attractive book with over 200 scrumptious recipes to inspire and entice.

Author: Mary Berry
Published by: Dorling Kindersley
Price: £18.99
ISBN 978-1-4053-3434-1

Mostly Food and Travel - Desserts

Perfection in Imperfection

I first met Chef Janice Wong at her deliciously unique dessert bar in Singapore in the early hours. It’s called, unsurprisingly, 2am: dessertbar. It’s a showcase for this talented lady and offers a flavour of this, her literary debut.
Asian cookbook review
Janice looks even younger than her young years but she has packed a lot into less than 30 of them, and has earned the respect of her peers. That regard was broadcast internationally when she was recently acclaimed Asia’s Best Pastry Chef at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore. This local girl has brought yet another accolade to a city that is renowned for being the home of some of the most innovative restaurants in the world.

But Janice didn’t initially find this passion for food in Singapore. She was studying in Melbourne, Australia, when she was struck by the wealth of foods from many different culinary traditions. She changed her academic path and eventually went to France to study patisserie in earnest. Yes, Janice has learned techniques from the world’s finest but the imagination, drive and whimsy is Singapore-made and totally original.

Perfection in Imperfection is striking. Its cover is …well, partly missing. The front is torn (each one by hand) and the spine isn’t there at all. But remember the title and you will start to ponder, muse, think, understand …and that’s what Janice Wong encourages her diners and readers to do.

Perfection in Imperfection is a cookbook, but it is so much more. It’s not a culinary destination but more a gastronomic signpost for the reader. Janice’s dessertbar desserts are difficult to replicate. She presents food in the form of art …or is that art in the form of food?

Some recipes are composed with the professional or dedicated and experienced home cook in mind. There are a few with Bloomenthalesque ingredients, but lots that can easily be accomplished by a regular food enthusiast with a more limited larder. Rocher Magnums would be a start, as it uses readily available ingredients to produce a classy, rich and chocolatey frozen dessert. I am intrigued by Bubblegum Gummies, which would make amusing retro edible gifts. Definitely one for every adult with childhood bubble-blowing memories!

Attention to detail of not only the sweet creations but of the book itself is beautifully evident. It’s the class of book that wins awards, the style of book that will become a food literature collectable. Janice successfully combines her love of ingredients with her flair for design. She deftly combs and crumbles, brushes and blends, but – above all – Janice Wong inspires.

Perfection in Imperfection
Author: Janice Wong
Published by: 2am: Lab
ISBN: 978-981-08-9551-8

2am: dessertbar
21A Lorong Liput
Holland Village
Singapore 277733

Phone: (+65) 6291 9727

Visit 2am: dessertbar here
Mostly Food and Travel - Desserts

James Martin Desserts

Anyone who loved the series Sweet Baby James will be equally impressed by the companion book “Desserts”. In fact anyone who is a fan of this popular chef will want a copy. James Martin Desserts

Sweet Baby James is considered by some to be the best of James Martin on TV. He has a talent for desserts and puds, which are made even more comforting and homey by the addition of anecdotes. James tells of his Gran who would make pastry while watching Coronation Street. More accurately, his Gran would listen to Coronation Street while watching the pastry.

There are some spectacular dishes here but you don’t need to be an expert patissier to try your hand at these delights. James has a wealth of advice in the Basics section and that will give you the confidence to tackle all the recipes, not only from this book but the skills will serve you well when using any other cookbook.

The chapter headings prepare you for the treats in store. There is everything here from Hot Puddings to Ice Creams and Sorbets and everything in between. The dishes are classic and traditional but with the occasional contemporary twist. That isn’t to say that they are all British. There are some European favourites that will be familiar to most readers.

James starts the Hot Puddings section with Bread and Butter Pudding but he uses croissants instead of the more usual white sliced. It has a less regular crust than the original and has a lighter texture. The use of white chocolate and whiskey are more of James’ departures but you could always substitute another spirit and use dark chocolate. An orange liqueur would work well.

The Tarts and Flans chapter offers Baked Pear and Honey Tart. This is a dinner party version of the old favourite custard tart. Lemon Meringue Pie is another standard that has been forgotten but it can be delicious when made as illustrated in Desserts. Apple and Thyme Tarte Tatin is a contemporary take on the famous original.

You will expect me to have my favourites and I do. Sorbet is such a popular dessert because it’s a light and refreshing end to a meal and makes a lovely afternoon snack on a hot summer day. The advantage is that sorbet is made in advance so is ideal for meals with friends. James offers Apple Sorbet and Fresh Mango Sorbet. Lemon Granita which is like a very smart flavoured ice made in a freezer box rather than an ice cream maker is a simple alternative to sorbet.

James Martin Desserts is a book full of puds to remind you of Sunday dinner when you were a kid, but it will equally encourage you to make the effort to tempt your own family. Make some sweet memories for them. Great value for money.

James Martin Desserts
Author: James Martin
Published by: Quadrille
Price: £12.99
ISBN 978-1-84400-559-8

Mostly Food and Travel - Desserts

Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts

Ice Cream and Frozen DessertsOoooh, I love this book. I could quite happily eat my way through each and every one of Peggy Fallon’s gorgeous desserts! Dan Kartong, 1978 US Olympic Marathon runner said “without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos”. That might be a bit of an extreme view but I understand the sentiment.

Each page is well designed with some background information, method and a side panel of ingredients. The recipes are easy to understand and consist of recipes not only for making numerous ice creams from scratch, but also for constructing gorgeous desserts using ready-made ice cream. For instance you could make the Warm Chocolate-Espresso Tart with Espresso Gelato using commercial coffee ice cream. Tiramisu Parfait also uses the same coffee ice cream. Buy a big box of that!

Manhattan Float sounds very sophisticated and has a slug of bourbon and vermouth. Or how about finishing a classy evening with Spiked Espresso. It’s a kind of Irish Coffee with cooling and melting ice cream instead of the usual collar of cream. I’ll use this idea in future as I can never get the cream to float in the original version.

Green Apple Sorbet is light and fresh-tasting. I use calvados in the mix and serve it in a martini glass with some cinnamon biscuits. It would make a change from the heavier traditional apple tart at the end of a French meal.

Frozen Chocolate Dessert Lollies couldn’t be easier. It’s chocolate custard poured into lolly moulds and frozen. The kids would love to have a go at this one. Think I would as well!

For those of you with an ice cream maker you can also have a go at making Frozen Yoghurt. If you haven’t already tried this I can tell you that it’s a light and tangy version of regular ice cream and is often less sweet. Peggy has also included several recipes that use soya milk. Brown Sugar-Pineapple Iced Soya Milk sounds delicious.

Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts has dolly-mixture pastel summer colours and is wonderfully photographed. It will encourage you to go out and buy that ice cream-making machine you have been talking about for ages.

Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts
Author: Peggy Fallon
Published by: DK Publishing
Price £ 12.99
ISBN 978-1-4053-2214-0

Mostly Food and Travel - Desserts

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts – quicker smarter recipes

It’s no surprise that I love cooking. I bake bread, make pies, curries, casseroles and roasts but, to tell the truth, I have never managed a great repertoire of desserts. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to spend hours and hours in the kitchen confectioning a fiddly sweet creation. I might have a passion for food but I am just as strapped for time as everybody else.cookbook review

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts has presented me with a collection of recipes that are indeed delicious and I don’t need to spend a day cooking.  This is an irresistible bunch of temptations for everything from dessert sauces and cookie crunch sprinkles for the top of ice cream to baked fruits, cakes, frostings and tarts. In fact there is an assortment of every dessert genre but all the dishes are simple to prepare.

Flourless chocolate cake is a classic. It has a remarkable texture and a richness that will cause any chocoholic to glow with pleasure. This is an easy recipe but the key is using a good quality chocolate with the correct percentage of cacao (cocoa butter). Alice Medrich suggests 55% to 70% but I would counsel going for the higher percentage. This is a sophisticated cake that’s better the day after baking, so it’s an ideal dinner party make-ahead pud.

Pudding tarts are a particularly American dessert and this book offers Tahitian vanilla tart with a cherry compote. The filling is a preparation of cornflour, sugar and cream. Now, the untutored might not think that sounds inspiring but it works. The pudding is creamy without the calories but it really is necessary to use the best available vanilla extract; and if you can’t find cherries then use any other fruit for the compote or fruit sauce.

Gingerbread is traditionally made with powdered ginger but Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts offers a version using fresh ginger along with that powdered root. This is an inspired departure from the original cake and gives a much zestier finished result. It’s a fresh tasting and exotic gingerbread, well worth a try.

Carrot cake is aromatic with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It is a no-guilt dessert as it contains vegetables so surely it constitutes at least one of your five-a-day. The usual frosting is made with cream cheese and it’s listed here but the author also gives permission to garnish the cake with crème fraîche or even Greek yoghurt which is lighter and has an agreeable tang that acts as a foil to the sweet sponge.

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts – quicker smarter recipes is an attractive cookbook offering sweets that are tempting and you won’t be spending days slaving over the stove; practical recipes for classic and contemporary dishes for everyday family fare as well as posh nosh for friends.

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts – quicker smarter recipes
Author: Alice Medrich
Published by: Workman Publishing
Price: £18.99
ISBN 978-1-5796-5398-9

Mostly Food and Travel - Desserts

Gorgeous Desserts

It’s another winner from the Kyle Cathie stable! Annie Bell is without a doubt one of my favourite food writers and the photography of Chris AlackGorgeous Desserts is superb. I knew I would love this one before I even turned a page.

Annie has a style of writing that is both humorous and engaging “...What appears to be an impossibly thin liquid at the start shapes up nicely into a luscious caramel that coats the sponge by the time the oven’s done its stuff.” The sort of writing that gives you confidence and comfort.

There are so many recipes that are updated versions of old favourite puds. It’s not often that I think that tinkering with tradition is a good idea but Annie’s recipes add so much to the original. The regular trifle will always be a great festive option but how lovely to have several versions. Modern Sherry Trifle has a mousse of mascarpone instead of custard. Cranachan Trifle draws on both Scottish and English culinary traditions and tempts me to go out and buy a trifle bowl. Italian Trifle is simple if you use shop-bought cake and makes a lovely presentation in individual glasses......but you get more in a trifle bowl!

Don’t, dear reader, ask me to pick a favourite recipe from this book. I probably have about 30....or 40! There are lots that I should mention as outstanding. Each page presents an “Ooooohhh – Aaaahhh” opportunity but Cherry Cheesecake Cake (no, that’s not a stutter, that IS the name of the pud) would be a delicious. There is a Chocolate Fondant Pudding that I would give somebody’s right arm for, and Apple Butterscotch Pie is going to be a regular chez nous.

This is one of those “must see” books. Its large format is clear and impressive. If you are looking for a dessert cookbook as a gift then my advice is to buy two of these - you will definitely want to keep one for yourself.

Cookbook review: Gorgeous Desserts
Author: Annie Bell
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £ 14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-742-7
London restaurant reviews

The Golden Book of Desserts

As a kid I would sit next to the radiogram (yes, there were such things and yes, I am that old), listen to Two-Way Family Favourites and leaf through my Mum’s big old cookbook. It had thousands of pictures but all of them in black and white. Every Sunday was the same and I never tired of dreaming of making and eating those dishes when I was a “big girl”.cookboook review

The Golden Book of Desserts is far from that monochrome cookbook that so captured my imagination half a century ago, but it does hold the same magic and it’s a lot more colourful. It’s a book that has taken me a while to review. I linger over some volumes longer than others and this has been a page-turner of memories, and of promises to make in the near future.

In the good old days almost every meal would end with dessert but we now tend to keep them for weekends, entertaining and celebrations. There are sweets here for every occasion and season, and from the rustic to the more elaborate, and just about every recipe has a full-page colour picture to inspire you ...and hopefully your kids.

Each section starts with some step-by-step illustrations to introduce you to a particular cake, pastry or batter. For instance, there are several strudels and you’ll be able to make them all with ease after you have mastered the thin and elastic dough. This is a cookbook not just for the accomplished home chef but for the novice who will learn from the illustrated methods.

I have a few favourites from The Golden Book of Desserts. Prune, Armagnac and Mascarpone Tart is a classic but simple dessert. Strange that we Brits joke about the “healthful” qualities of prunes but put those same dried fruits in a French confection and we all insist that it’s the best thing since sliced bread (or baguette) ...or the sweet equivalent. This tart is so delicious that it’s hard to believe it’s actually doing you good.

There are frozen delights to try as well. This isn’t really cooking – just a bit of mixing and use of the freezer to produce some amazing made-ahead treats for the family or dinner guests. The Turkish Delight Ice Cream is exotic and bejewelled with delicate pink. Sophisticated.

The Golden Book of Desserts is a gift-quality volume with over 250 recipes for practical desserts to suit every taste. These are written for the domestic kitchen and many would be recognised by previous generations – everything from comforting puds to contemporary sorbets.

Cookbook review: The Golden Book of Desserts
Author: Carla Bardi, Rachel Lane
Published by: Apple Press
Price: £20.00
ISBN 978-84543-428-1

London restaurant reviews


It’s got to be one of my favourite books of the moment. Desserts is quality in both content and presentation. The large format allows for the most gorgeous photography by Brent Parker Jones who has used his skills to great effect. The authors, Rachel Lane and Ting Morris, are both successful food writers and they have done a great job. Desserts

Desserts has a marvellous selection of recipes. Rachel and Ting have chosen well with a balance of both classic and contemporary. The text pages are open and clear with an almost Art Deco feel. Very attractive without being over-designed.

There are 250 international and thoroughly delicious recipes here. These are so diverse that this book is bound to have broad appeal. People with special health needs are not forgotten. There are quite a few recipes that are marked as being suitable for those with specific food allergies. This is a great idea and one that should be adopted by more food writers.

The desserts are divided into 17 different groups as well as a section for basic recipes. There is everything here from Fruit Desserts to Fritters. There are Warm Puddings and Soufflés as well as Frozen Desserts and Ice Creams. Lots of simple dishes are included but the more experienced cook will find plenty of inspiration. There isn’t anything here that could be described as challenging and there are a host of step-by-step illustrations to help with unfamiliar techniques.

Cupcakes are the trendy dessert just now and there are 18 scrumptious examples. None of them is taxing but all of them look elegant and stylish. Banoffee Cupcakes have my vote... or perhaps Orange Sour Cream Cupcakes... but I’ll go for the Low-Fat Chocolate Cupcakes. I need to choose something virtuous as I’ll be trying all the other 249 desserts before too long!

It’s nice to see a section on Candy. Sweets can be just as acceptable as more traditional desserts at the end of a meal. Coconut Ice is a perennial favourite and ideal as the finale to an exotic Indian or Middle Eastern dinner. Peanut Brittle is easier than you would imagine and the only disadvantage is that you will never seem to manage to make enough. Trust me, this is moreish!

Desserts is impressive with enough new and unique recipes to fire the interest of even the most enthusiastic of home cooks. My collection of cookbooks is considerable but I am happy to add this one to my shelves. This is great value and it stands a good chance of being this winter’s best-seller.

Cookbook review: Desserts
Authors: Rachel Lane and Ting Morris
Published by: Apple Press
Price: £16.99
ISBN 978-1-84543-268-3
London restaurant reviews

AWT’s Sweet Life

The Sweet Life by Antony Worrall Thompson has arrived just at the right time. I make no apologies for being enthusiastic about a book that focuses on using a sweetener instead of sugar. I hadn’t given the subject of diabetes much thought till I met Claude. He misses out on so many good things because his wife doesn’t have the recipes to make sweet things that he can eat. If he goes out to friends for a meal then the dessert will always be a problem. He will love this book ...once I have translated it into French!

The book starts with a foreword by Melinda Messenger who has contributed eight of her favourite low-sugar recipes that are simple and popular with family and friends.  The sugar is replaced by Splenda, a low calorie sweetener. Well, Melinda looks good on it! Antony Worrall Thompson

Antony was told that he was heading towards diabetes, but he is a chef with a passion for food and he still wanted to make delicious meals and treats for himself and his family. Splenda is easily used in cooking. It isn’t those little tablets, it looks like sugar and you use the same volume as sugar so it makes a good substitute. There is a section on using the product, so no need to panic.

All the photographs, and there are pictures for most of the recipes, make the food look every bit as gorgeous as you would expect from an “ordinary” cookbook. The truth is that the cakes, pies, mousses ARE as gorgeous as the sugar-laden alternatives. We are talking about seriously good puds. You could tuck into any of them and not feel that you are making a sacrifice for the sake of good health.

Antony even has chocolatey things like Homemade Chocolate-nut Spread. It’s a low-sugar alternative to that famous one. Easter Egg Brownies would be a lovely one for the kids....Ok, all of us. Who could resist Baked Cheesecake with Marsala-steeped Raisins? No sugar! Or Greek Lemon Pudding. No sugar!

Each recipe has nutritional information and I guess you would still have to keep an eye on that if you are diabetic. Although the refined sugar has been replaced by Splenda, there are still natural sugars from fruit as well as some recipes that use honey. All the information is there to help you so it's ....a piece of cake!

This isn’t just a book for those with health problems. Most of us could do with cutting back on the sugar but it’s good to be able to have great sweet things to eat while we are doing it. But let’s consider cooking for our friends with diabetes – invite them over and present them with a luscious dessert they can safely eat and enjoy!

Antony Worrall Thompson has done a smashing job. I thank you, Claude thanks you, and a lot of other people will as well.

The Sweet Life
Author: Antony Worrall Thompson
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-815-8

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