A dessert doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious. In fact, there are some desserts out there that are much prettier to look at than they are delicious to eat. Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts is a cookbook that is packed with desserts, but each and every one of them puts flavor before the fancy – though they are also -beautiful too look at! Brooks Headley is the executive pastry chef at New York’s De Posto restaurant, but has a background in music and entertainment that contributes to his unique perspective on desserts.
Like most cookbooks, this one is divided into several chapters. The chapters include fruit, vegetables, grains & flours, chocolate, seeds & nuts, and dairy. The list reads more like a list of ingredients than the table of contents in most dessert books, largely because it is. The book is about getting the most out of each ingredient that you work with and starting with the best ingredients that you can find. The recipes themselves range from simple – Slow-Roasted Fruit – to more complex – Browned Butter Panna Cotta – and all of them draw out as much flavor as possible from whatever ingredient they are featuring. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, with very detailed directions that are sure to answer any questions you might have. Serving suggestions are offered with each recipe, allowing you to mix and match from different sections of the book to create restaurant-worth dessert plates.
The photography in the book is varied, from “behind the scenes” style shots to photos of the full, plated desserts. It fits the casual tone that the book is written in and makes you feel like you’re really getting to see “backstage.” This style gives the book an intimate feel, like you’re getting recipe tips from a friend, and makes the book that much more enjoyable to read, even if you don’t jump in to making the recipes right away.