"Williams-Sonoma Collection: Fruit Dessert," Carolyn Beth Weil

Pros: Delicious results; gorgeous photos; clean layout; great selection of recipes; fairly simple recipes
Cons: One or two slightly “off” directions
Rating: 4 out of 5

First posted 2/23/2005
Review book courtesy of Simon & Schuster

I’m addicted to fruit. I just love that sweet taste, whether it’s apple, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, cherry, peach, blueberry… There’s nothing like the natural taste of real fruit; artificial flavors can’t compare. So I’m always looking for new sources of good fruit recipes. The “Williams-Sonoma Fruit Dessert Cookbook,” by Carolyn Beth Weil, measures up quite well.

Recipes are divided up into the classics, quick and simple, crisps and cobblers, pies and tarts, puddings and frozen desserts, and special occasions. Naturally when you’re dealing with things like pie crusts there’s a little effort involved, but overall these are relatively low-key recipes, not all-day affairs.

The recipes cover a wide range of fruits, including apples, lemons, mixed berries, cherries, pears, pineapple, strawberries, melon, raspberry with rhubarb, tropical fruit, mangoes, peaches, apricots, blueberries, cranberries, plums, blackberries, pumpkins, nectarines, persimmons, limes, grapefruits, and bananas. No matter what your current fruit craving or what’s in season in your local grocery you should be able to find something to suit it in here!

As usual for Williams-Sonoma cookbooks, this is an absolutely gorgeous book. The simple, full-color food photos will make your mouth water. The layout is clean and simple, making it easy to tell the cook’s notes apart from the directions apart from the ingredients. Each recipe notes the number of servings it makes.

Quality

We very much enjoyed the recipes we made from this cookbook. There was only one that didn’t bowl us over, and even it was quite good. There were one or two slightly off directions, however. For instance, it only took the cherry clafouti about half of the recommended amount of time to cook! I’m used to the idea that ovens vary a little, and 5 or 10 minutes more or less isn’t unusual, but 25 minutes instead of 40-45 is a bit of a large variation. Also, while the recipe said to serve warm or at room temperature, we found that not only did we like the recipe best on the second day but we liked it best cold. (It made a wonderful breakfast!)

Recipes

“Classic” recipes range from apple crisp and lemon meringue pie to a mixed berry cheesecake and pears poached in red wine.

“Quick and simple” recipes include baked apples, melon balls with fresh mint, warm berry compote (which truly is quick and simple!), coconut cake with mango, and more.

“Crisps and cobblers” range from an apricot-almond crisp to an unusual spiced blueberry cobbler that includes molasses.

“Pies and tarts” include everything from cherry pie to blackberry turnovers and pumpkin pie.

“Puddings and frozen desserts” presents a steamed persimmon pudding if you want to try something a little unusual, but it also includes little lemon pudding cakes, a fresh lime mousse, and bananas Foster.

“Special occasion” recipes include brandy-apple crepes, a Grand Marnier souffle that I can’t wait to make, and a summer berry trifle.

Whether you’re looking for light, cooling summer fare, decadent show-stoppers, or down-home comfort food, this cookbook can deliver on your fruit desires. Just watch those cooking times, and check the oven now and then!

Posted in Cooking, Reviews

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