According to David Lebovitz, "Each year, hundreds of cookbooks are released, which means that inevitably, many must go to make room for the new."
One look through his latest book Ready for Dessert (his original title idea was David's Greatest Hits) is enough to make me want to do just that-- clear my shelf of all the pretty, rarely-used dessert tomes that do little else than collect dust and take up space in my kitchen.
My copy of Lebovitz's book is already stained (with coffee) from just looking at it. It's the best type of food porn available: high production values (great recipes and gorgeous photography by Maren Caruso); a cast of stars (Chocolate Orbit Cake, Kumquat Sticky Toffee Pudding, Apple-Quince Tarte Tatin) that are hot, but not out of reach; and a writer who supplies, if not a story line, then enough anecdotes to keep me interested (The Racine's Cake recipe was, after all, found written on a men's room wall). It's one sexy book.
The first time I met David Lebovitz, one of the first things out of his mouth was "I'm not a nice person," which I found interesting, since the impression I got from him was the exact opposite. If he is, in fact, not a nice person at all, he's hidden his misanthropy entirely in what is a very friendly, approachable cookbook. The Caramelization guidelines for both wet and dry caramel, with their step-by-step photos, careful instruction, and simple explanation are worth the price of admission alone. And the overall tone is warm, funny and, with the exception of crowing over his chocolate chip cookies (page 188)), modest. I've made those cookies. He can crow all he wants.
Unfussy, straightforward desserts that rely more upon the complexity or impact of flavor than frills are Lebovitz's hallmark. From the subtlety of his Black Currant Tea Crème Brûlée (page 129) to the luciously rich Chocolate Pavé (page 25), Ready for Dessert offers a wide range of recipes that are within the grasp of all but the most inept cooks. And, even then, there's always that Chocolate Orbit (née Idiot) cake (page 26).