When it comes to baking – and cooking in general – there is always a place for new ideas, but there is often no substitute for experience. Ann Amernick, author of The Art of the Dessert, has been in the pastry business a long time and shares a lot of her knowledge – as well as a lot of her recipes – in this volume. The recipes range from the simple to the complex and are more “pastry chef” than “home cook.” That said, the recipe instructions are very clear and detailed, so not only is it not difficult to follow along, the fact that the book is offering something different from the average cookbook means that it might get more use when it’s in your kitchen.
While the recipes include cakes, pies, cookies and both warm and cold desserts, dessert sandwiches (they have their own chapter) appear to be a signature type of dish. This doesn’t mean that everything goes into a panini maker, but instead that different individual desserts are layered together for interesting presentations, as well as flavor and texture combinations. The cover photo is a good example, with coconut slices, a cream cheese brownie and coconut sorbet. The recipes can stand alone, though after reading through the instructions you’ll often find that putting them together for the pastry chef presentation isn’t difficult at all.
There is a detailed introduction at the start of the book where Amernick explains tips she has picked up over the years and describes the methods and ingredients used in the recipes. There are also lots of tips throughout the book, mixed in with the recipes at points when they might come in handy. The book is illustrated, but is a little bit short on photos of the finished dishes, with more snapshots of kitchen prep and various in-between shots filling up what would otherwise be empty space. This isn’t much of a problem because the shots that are included are very nice, but it is a touch disappointing to find out that your need to try everything else to see what the dishes look like after you get past the beautiful shot on the cover.