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Desserts – James Martin
Quadrille – 2007
Photography: Peter Cassidy

The introduction to ‘Desserts’ is a slightly roundabout and doesn’t really need to be there. However the tips that are written above each of the recipes are wonderful and very relevant. There are also hints at how to adapt recipes for alternative ideas or how things could be made in advance.
The basics are done in a brilliant step-by-step manner at the start with lots of individual pictures. A real nit-pick but it seems really weird having pictures with Martin in them, also he’s wearing quite a lot of jewellery in the pictures – this might only stand out because usually there aren’t pictures of the chefs in books but it seems odd. The pictures throughout the book are well chosen, there are not huge numbers of them but it has been well thought out so that the recipes that really benefit from photographs have them.
The confectionary section is unfortunately pretty standard but it has been done so well that this hardly matters. The ingredients for the recipes throughout the book are easy to find, which can sometimes be a real problem with desserts and there are lots that could be done with store-cupboard basics. There are a lot of classic recipes and this would make a good staple dessert cookery book but there are also plenty of new and different things to experiment with.
Some of the recipes are hard to read as the font colour is too close to the background and a few of the bits of text in the step-by-step sections has very small font that would be hard to read (especially when melting sugar, cooling chocolate etc). It’s well structured and easy to find what you are looking for, however the book on the whole (or the version I had) felt rather cheap and was a nightmare trying to keep it open. Even with quite long introductions (also, written in a much larger font than the recipe) it’s still easy to see the recipe and the ingredients are to one side along with the portion size.
On the whole this is a great book of desserts and I am sure my hips are hating me for finding it. A great balance of quick & easy recipes as well as more complicated ones that will challenge most cooks. My favourites overall would be the Glace fruits, the Membrello, the Baked Pear and Honey Tart and the Apple and Toffee Muffins.

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