Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

When did I first learn about David Lebovitz?  Was it reading his blog, davidlebovitz.com, or was it seeing his ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop?  Whichever it was, it was wonderful, and I was instantly a fan.  Even after being a follower for so long, I can still get lost on his website, spending far too much time reading through his guides to Paris pastry shops, or his posts on his various food focused travels, not to mention all of his great recipes!  I just love his casual and friendly voice, and the attitude, permeating all his writing, that food is about enjoyment, and sharing, and being in the moment. He’s also a legit legend at this point, starting with having worked for thirteen years at restaurant/influential chef generator Chez Panisse in Berkeley.  Like other graduates of the Chez Panisse school, he’s focused on ingredients first, casually laying out beautiful technique like he learned it in the cradle.  

Since then, he has written nine books and, having read seven and being a faithful reader of his also amazing and super influential blog, I can say that he is the best recipe writer I have ever come across.  He is a real pal in your kitchen, and everything is laid out to make your experience better.  Ingredient weights!  Informative and alluring intros!  Storage tips, serving tips, variations galore!   Out of all of his books, Ready for Dessert is my favorite.  An absolute masterpiece.  My desert island dessert book, good for anyone interested in baking at home as well as professionals.  What really makes this book superb is that you will not fall flat with these recipes.  Follow them closely and they work.  It seems so simple, but it is rare to have such consistent reliability from a baking book.  Every time I open up this literal trove of deliciousness, I find something new that interests me.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  

I made: Racines Cake (p. 30), Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake (p.33), Maple-Walnut Pear Cake (p. 35), Cherry Gâteau Basque (p. 48), Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting and Salted Candied Peanuts (p. 62), Chocolate-Caramel Soufflés (p. 132), Creamy Rice Pudding (p. 138), Vanilla Ice Cream (p. 143), Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 188), Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies (p. 196), Chocolate-Port Truffles (p. 220), Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce (p. 243).   

Would make again: I would make every single one of these again, except for the fact that my youngest has developed allergies to eggs and peanuts.  Fingers crossed that he’ll grow out of the egg allergy, but until then I’ll be figuring out where substitutions can be made.  

Quick answers to important questions: 

  • Is it necessary to spend a bunch of money for new equipment? No, but baking equipment would make it easier.    Some recipes are out of reach without an ice cream maker, which is a fairly big purchase.  
  • Are the ingredients expensive?  For the most part, no, but some baking basics including chocolate and vanilla can be pricey.    He also uses a lot of liqueurs.  
  • Are the ingredients difficult to find?  No.  
  • Can I use ingredient substitutions?  Yes, but baking is a science, so the results may be off.
  • Are the recipes complicated?  Varying, but for the most part, no.  They can be projects, though, with multiple parts.    
  • Am I likely to be successful the first time I make these recipes?  Yes.  Always read a recipe twice before you start, and make a note of anything that needs to be prepped in advance, and you will be successful.  
  • Can I feed kids from this book?  Yes, mostly they’ll be very happy to eat this delicious desserts!  Some of the recipes are a little heavy on the Sauce, though, for littles.  
  • Is this book on my side, trying to help?  Absolutely!  The ingredients are given in volume and weight, the recipes are easy to read and as simple as possible, and they have tons of tips on serving, storage, and variations you can try.        
  • Is the text of the book helpful and/or interesting?  Yes.  
  • Are recipes on one page or do I have to keep flipping back and forth while cooking?  Most of the recipes are on one page or laid out in a spread.  
  • Is this book beautiful and would it belong on a coffee table?  This is a beautiful book, but not really coffee table material.  
  • Did I learn and grow as a cook while using this book?  Yes, absolutely.  I keep coming back to it, and I imagine that will continue for many years.    
  • Are ingredients given in weight?  YES!     
  • Is there advice on how to make ahead/store/reheat food?  Yes!  
  • Can these recipes be adapted for different dietary needs?  Tough one.  I think a lot of these recipes could be adapted to fit different dietary needs, but they may need some tweaking.  I can’t recommend it to someone following, a a low sugar or low calorie diet, though.         
  • Can kids help with these recipes?  Yes!  With proper preparation and a high tolerance for messes.    
  • How delicious is the food? A plus plus.  Amaaaaazing.  
  • Are the recipes healthful?  Can they fit in to a balanced diet?  Yes, I think so, but only if you believe that dessert can be a part of a balanced diet.  
  • Is there a set of values underpinning the book?  I think so.  The importance of seasonal ingredients, an appreciation for different types of cuisine,  sharing food as a connection between people, the importance of cooking at home.  
  • Skill level this book seems aimed toward?  I think it would be useful to anyone. 
  • Good gift?  Yes!  For anyone interested in making desserts.      

TLDR: David Lebovitz’ Ready for Dessert is the BEST.  I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to get in to desserts and baking.  A++

Maple Walnut Pear Cake
Chocolate-Caramel Soufflés
Chocolate-Port Truffles

Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake

Find Ready for Dessert wherever you buy books, or order it from Amazon! Happy Baking!

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