From holidays to weekdays, every day deserves a dessert
Jenny McCoy hits the sweet spot—literally and figuratively. Her desserts make the best use of seasonal ingredients and seem to be just what you want to be eating when the weather changes from Butterscotch Budino in the Autumn to Souffle Crepes with Vanilla Scented Strawberries in the Spring.
But for the home cook she also hits a metaphorical sweet spot. The book’s recipes will help you create something special and delicious, but won’t have you sugar-streaked and edgy by the end of the day. Her recipes are homey, but still special—kind of like that cake Mom makes only for holidays or a little birthday effort. They are completely without the tense perfectionism of a professional.
But McCoy’s professionalism—she’s an instructor and has created dessert menus for Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio—shines through in every recipe—from clear, usually one page directions and serene photos of the finished products to intriguing flavor combinations like Persimmon Pudding with Greek Yogurt or a Milk Stout Cake with Malted Milk Buttercream.
I started out sleepy and slow with Browned Butter Waffles. Browning the butter before adding it to the waffle batter adds a rounded, nutty flavor with virtually no extra work. Looking for a simple dessert one night, I came across Red Currant Clafoutis. Of course, I didn’t have fresh red currants—a hard to find ingredient even in the summer, but I did have some very creditable apples and so forged ahead with this homey soufflé.
A bit more ambitious and awake, I made the Pumpkin Roulade for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. The moist cake batter smoothed perfectly into a lightly spiced sheet that rolled easily around a cream cheese filling that I goosed with a bit of Grand Marnier.
McCoy makes the important distinction between “a thoughtful dessert and a dessert that requires too much thought,” a distinction that has created this refined collection. My copy is fringed with post-its marking recipes I’ve made and want to make, from Mardi Gras King Cake for the coming winter to Watermelon Ice with Lime Cream in the distant summer.
The recipes’ range and ease speak to the joy of this book—flexibility to respond to your own pantry inspirations and a casual elegance that will please the cook in the kitchen and the guests at the table.