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Do you love Paris?
When you think of the City of Light, are its patisseries, boulangeries and sidewalk cafes with their delicious selections of handcrafted, melt-in-your-mouth pastries and desserts among the first things that come to mind?
Do you adhere to the adage "Life's too short, eat dessert first!"?
Then you will absolutely love Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops, a classic sweet treat by Dorie Greenspan, one of the world's favorite and most accomplished food writers, Dorie Greenspan. (See her bio below.)
Her most vivid memory of her first trip to Paris doesn't have anything to do with the Eiffel Tower, but rather a heavenly strawberry tartlet. Overwhelmed by its extraordinary flavor, texture, and appearance, Greenspan was "hooked on Paris and hooked on the city's sweets."
In Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops, Greenspan compiles recipes from "les bonnes adresses," collecting secrets for perfect madeleines, macaroons, apple tarts and other classic French desserts.
Paris Sweets is the result of 30 years of searching for the most delectable, delicious, awe-inspiring pastries she could find, and then convincing their creators to part with the recipes.
She embellishes her cookbook with anecdotes and histories, explaining that, for example, creme brulee is actually a Spanish invention (known there as crema catalana) and that Saint-Honori is the patron saint of pastry chefs.
Greenspan also includes descriptions of some of her favorite Parisian bakeries, introducing American readers to the pleasures of Ladurée and La Maison du Chocolat.
Scattered throughout this delightful book are whimsical illustrations and beautifully written stories about each of Greenspan's favorite pastry shops and the chefs who created them.
Some of their recipes, such as Boulangerie Poilane's sweet, buttery, bite-size cookies called Punishments, are quick and easy enough for even a novice baker.
And with Greenspan's clear, step-by-step, detailed instructions, Robert Linxe's Grandmother's Creamy Chocolate Cake, an elegant fudgy decadence, and Poujauran's rich, nutty-flavored Financiers, become child's play. Greenspan manages to demystify even the complicated multilayered Opera Cake from Dalloyau.
From the most perfect Crème Brulee and Coffee Eclairs to the stunning Fresh Strawberry and Marshmallow Tart, made with homemade strawberry marshmallows.
From classic recipes, some centuries old, to updated innovations, Paris Sweets provides a sumptuous guide to creating cookies, from the fabled madeleine to simple, ultra-buttery sables; tarts, from the famous Tatin, which began its life as an upside-down error, to a delightful strawberry tart embellished with homemade strawberry marshmallows; and a glorious range of cakes — lemon-drenched "weekend cake," fudge cake, and the show-stopping Opera.
Paris Sweets brims with assorted temptations that even a novice can prepare, such as coffee éclairs, rum-soaked babas, and meringue puffs. Evocative portraits of the pastry shops and chefs, as well as information on authentic French ingredients, make this a truly comprehensive tour.
Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops celebrates the sweet life with recipes and lore from Paris’s finest patisseries. It makes an elegant gift for Francophiles, armchair travelers, bakers of all skill levels, and certainly for oneself.
Greenspan will have you torn between making Paris Sweets at home and going there yourself.
Whatever you do, remember: Life's too short, eat dessert first! — especially from Paris!
Inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, DORIE GREENSPAN was tapped by the legendary chef Julia Child to write the New York Times bestseller Baking with Julia.
Her most recent book is Baking Chez Moi: Recipes From My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere. She is the author of Baking: From My Home to Yours, a James Beard Award winner, and Around My French Table, a New York Times bestseller that was named Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She also co-authored Desserts by Pierre Hermé, another IACP award winner.
Her blog, www.doriegreenspan.com, was singled out as one of the top fifty food blogs in the world by The Times of London.
She lives in Westbrook, Connecticut; New York City; and Paris.