Emily Luchetti, Author, Minh Wass, Photographer, Ngoc Minh, Photographer . Chronicle $35 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8118-3178-9

At first glance, this volume doesn't look all that approachable: the tiny print on its glossy page is easily obscured by stray swirls, and the cover photo—an exact cube of ice cream and cake layers coated in a lost-looking dribble of caramel—doesn't inspire confidence. But it would be a mistake to pass this cookbook by; Luchetti, pastry chef for Jeremiah Tower, has a contagious, far-ranging fascination with her subject. In this, her third book (after Stars Desserts and Four Star Desserts), she organizes desserts by season, a welcome departure from the usual cake-cookies-custard triumvirate. Spring recipes celebrate the year's first fruits (Strawberry Ginger Sodas; Rhubarb Orange Tart), while summer ones emphasize berries and stone fruit (Berry Creme Fraiche Cake)—better still, at least half the summer recipes do not start with the dreaded "Preheat the oven to...." Autumn (Fig Galettes with Cinnamon Marsala Sabayon) goes beyond the usual apples and gourds, and winter is essentially a paean to chocolate—truffles, trifles, fondues. Luchetti isn't afraid of less popular dessert forms like crepes and compotes, and readers may at times have to scamper through the book searching for sub-recipes, garnishes and sauces (e.g., Apple Splits: easy if you have caramel sauce, vanilla creme anglaise and cinnamon ice cream on hand). Still, even at their most complex, none violates Luchetti's rule: no more than three primary flavors in a dessert. Her sure hand with the sweet tooth makes this a sybaritic, inspiring addition to an often cluttered genre. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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