Master the building blocks of dessert making and you can create anything. That is the simple philosophy of Jacques Torres, host of the public television series "Dessert Circus" and executive pastry chef at the world-renowned Le Cirque 2000 restaurant. In "Dessert Circus" he stays true to his principles. Learn how to temper chocolate (simply bringing melted chocolate to the right temperature) and you can make Chocolate-Covered Almonds. Learn to make sorbet (no harder than buying an ice cream machine) and you can make a Palette of Sorbets, a chocolate palette artfully topped with five different fruit sorbets. Master the recipe for Classic Genoise cake and you have the starting point for everything from Banana Moon Cakes to a raspberry mousse-filled ladybug.
Jacques explains it all in clear, plain language, like a teacher at your side. He doesn't just tell you what to do, he tells you why you are doing it that way. "Dessert Circus" isn't just a stunning collection of a hundred astonishing desserts, it is a primer in the basics of dessert chemistry. You will learn about ingredients and how they react when mixed, kneaded, chilled, or heated and be taught the red flags of warning--the signs that something is not going right--and what you might be able to do to save the situation.
"Dessert Circus" satisfies your every craving. Chocoholic? Revel in homemade Peanut Butter Cups. Want something simple and homey? How about Decorative Shortbread Cookies or Old-fashioned Macaroons? If you think creaminess is the hallmark of a dessert to die for, open up to classic Creme Brulee and soon-to-be-classic Tiramisu. There are fruit desserts (try Roosted Whole Peaches with Fresh Almonds and Pistachios), pastries, (Napoleons, Baba au Rhum), and frozen finales.
But that's not all. Jacques has included recipes for all his signature desserts. Appreciate the architecture of New York City without ever leaving your kitchen by making The Manhattan, chocolate cake layered with a bittersweet chocolate cream constructed in the shape of a skyscraper. Enjoy winter any time of year with The Snowman, a little man made not out of snow but snowy white meringue and filled with tart lemon curd. If you're really feeling your baking oats, there is the final chapter, For the Truly Adventurous. Make a Cookie Tree, a Croquembouche (a pyramid of small cream puffs), or a wedding cake for sixty.
Each recipe is rated for its level of difficulty so you can start with desserts that match your level of experience and work your way up to those more challenging. Every recipe is accompanied by a color photograph of the finished dessert and step-by-step photographs where appropriate.
If you love dessert, you'll love "Dessert Circus."