Pros: Great balance between technique & recipes; wonderful recipes; gorgeous photos
Rating: 5 out of 5
I adore coffee and, in particular, coffee-flavored treats. It’s something of an obsession of mine, as evidenced by the number of coffee drink cookbooks I’ve reviewed over the years. This time I’m tackling Betty Rosbottom’s Coffee, from Chronicle (one of my favorite cookbook sources).
As is so often the case with a Chronicle cookbook, this is a gorgeous little book that could serve quite well as a gift. The photos are eye-catching, delectable, and frequent. The recipe layout is clean, simple, and easy to read. Directions are easy to follow, and there are no unnecessarily complex recipes in here.
The book starts off with a modest amount of information aimed at helping you to produce a wonderful cup of coffee, but doesn’t overdo it, such that if you don’t need help in that area you won’t feel you’ve wasted your money. (This is largely information such as different brewing methods, a few notes on different roasts, and a page of tips and hints.) This is followed by ‘recipes’ for the basic coffee drinks that everyone loves. However, the book swiftly moves on to the recipes you won’t find in every other book; this seems to me to be a very good compromise. Many books spend too much time on the basic information you might already know, such that you end up feeling you wasted some of your money. Rosbottom’s Coffee spends just enough to give you a leg up if you need it, then gives you plenty of new material.
Coffee includes recipes for new and different coffee drinks (one of my favorites is a coffee-based ice cream soda), tidbits to enjoy with your coffee (such as a fantastic pastry to dip in your coffee that’s easily assembled from a sheet of puff pastry and some crystallized ginger), and coffee-flavored treats. We made an ice cream recipe from this book that was out of this world, and a simple chocolate sauce to go on top that was equally good. If you’re feeling adventurous you could make a coffee-flavored cake with coffee-toffee icing, or you could keep things simple (yet impressive) with java jolt truffles or coffee caramels.
Every recipe we tried came out beautifully, and the directions were detailed and easy to follow. The flavors were perfectly balanced, and really the only problem was that it was very difficult to stop eating (or drinking) pretty much anything that came out of this book!