Pros: Delectable lemon desserts; clear instructions; lovely photos
Cons: It can be hard to find lemon oil; some unusual flavors not everyone will love
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
“Luscious Lemon Desserts” is the must-have cookbook for the true lemon aficionado. Lori Longbotham showcases the clear, piercing flavor of lemon in all of its magnificence, whether you long for the creaminess of rice pudding, the luxuriousness of lemon mousse, or the palate-cleansing clarity of gelatin.
The flavor of lemon can be delivered through several distinct mediums, all of which have different uses and tones: zest, juice, and oil. Most home cooks have used the first two, but the third is an unusual addition, and it’s difficult to make full use of this cookbook without it. I highly recommend visiting the Baker’s Catalogue if you can’t find some locally (which, odds are, you won’t); they carry it in 1 oz and 5 oz sizes. Ms. Longbotham recommends not using lemon extract, comparing the results to furniture polish, and I must agree with her comparison–the warmer, subtler flavor of lemon oil makes a significant difference.
Ms. Longbotham’s recipes include standard desserts with a lemon flair, such as pudding, mousse, gelatin, rice pudding, angel food cake, pudding cake, pound cake, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, three different cheesecakes, souffle, lemon curd, and more. They also, however, include some more unusual takes on dessert. For instance, while I adore pots de creme, I haven’t quite been able to get myself to try the version in here that includes coriander seeds, and the same with the creme caramel that includes fennel. Of course you can leave these little additives out easily enough, so I don’t think they should put you off of buying the cookbook if they don’t sound good to you.
Many, although not all, of the recipes include lovely photographs. The instructions are laid out well, with steps clearly numbered and set apart from ingredients. Some of the recipes are simple and quick while others definitely take some time, so this isn’t a cookbook for folks who subsist on “meals in minutes”-type cooking. Neither is it unnecessarily complex, however, so if you enjoy making your own cakes, pies, and cheesecakes, it should be perfect for you.
We’ve made a number of recipes out of this cookbook since we first purchased it. The “ultimate lemon mousse” is still my favorite, and yes, it truly deserves its name! We’ve made it repeatedly, and it’s been a big hit at multiple dinners we’ve thrown. The lemon rice pudding is mild and not-too-sweet, almost something of a palate-cleanser; it’s unexpected and delicious. The lemon curd goes beautifully over biscuits. The only recipe we had any trouble with was “my favorite lemon pudding;” it broke and didn’t thicken properly, but I suspect that may well have been due to problems with our old refrigerator rather than the recipe.
The book also includes a wonderful starting chapter on “lemon dessert basics,” including information on everything from types of lemons to how to buy lemons, storing them, squeezing them, using the zest, slicing and cooking lemons, making lemon garnishes, and more.
For those who find cooking to be a delight and love the flavor of a good lemon, I can’t imagine a cookbook library without “Luscious Lemon Desserts!”