As a kid I didn’t have The Golden Book of Desserts but 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”.
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.
The Golden Book of Desserts
Author: Carla Bardi, Rachel Lane
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018