Pros: Handy easel design; simple recipes; delicious results
Cons: Although the book seems perfect for inexperienced cooks, it leaves some details out
Rating: 4 out of 5
Mollie Katzen is well-known for her Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Her work stresses vegetarian cooking and natural eating. Her latest cookbook, Mollie Katzen’s Recipes: Desserts, is a delicious addition to this lineup.
The “book” is presented in a fold-out easel format. It’s a little narrow, so you’ll want to be sure to place it on a level surface and put it together carefully so it’ll stay open, but it works quite well.
The recipes themselves tend to be fairly simple and easy to assemble. The handwriting-like font is easy to read, although not quite as readily clear to the eye as something simpler would have been; whether you prefer it depends on whether the style of the cookbook is more important to you (it is lovely!) or your ability to read it very simply and quickly.
My main complaint, as such, is that this is one of those cookbooks that seems aimed at home cooks who might not have a lot of experience. However, if that’s the case, then there are a few details missing. For example, there’s a wonderful chocolate pudding in here. The only problem is, it simply instructs you to cook the mixture over very low heat for 8-10 minutes after adding the cornstarch, until the pudding is thick and glossy. This sounds fine, unless your hapless cook has an electric stove and isn’t aware that cornstarch won’t thicken properly until it comes to a simmer. She could be standing there stirring her pudding for half an hour wondering why on earth it isn’t thickening. That’s the sort of detail that you can get away with leaving out in a gourmet cookbook aimed at more experienced cooks who know about the differences in heat level between types of stove, and are experienced with various thickeners, but it shouldn’t be left out in a cookbook like this.
That said, as long as you know enough to fill in those occasional blanks, this is an absolutely delicious cookbook! The pumpkin and maple walnut pies are deadly (and I mean that in the nicest possible way—they’re just so delicious they’re hard to stop eating). The chocolate pudding is scrumptious. The fruited yogurt is delightful.
There’s a handy table of contents up front that lists all of the recipes, from date-nut cake to iced carob brownies, lemon mousse to chocolate crepes, baked custard to whole wheat poppy seed cookies. Notes often guide the reader as to acceptable substitution of soy milk and similar ingredients. These aren’t low-fat low-sugar recipes, but they do make good use of plenty of fruits, nuts, and fresh ingredients of all kinds.
All in all, this is a delicious dessert cookbook to have on hand!