"Farmers' Market Desserts," Jennie Schacht

Pros: Delightful, delicious, and oh-so-seasonal!
Cons: None so far!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book (published 2010) provided courtesy of Chronicle Books.


Farmers’ markets can be delightful places, filled with ripe, seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as things like honey, maple syrup, fresh eggs, milk, and dairy. If you have one near you, you’ve probably meant to take advantage of it more than you actually have. If so, grab a copy of Jennie Schacht’s Farmers’ Market Desserts. It’s filled with inspiring photographs of fresh fruits and farmers’ market treats, as well as the desserts it offers up. It has a chart of the peak US growing season for a wide range of produce from almonds to figs, melons to zucchini. And the recipes come with plenty of suggestions for substituting alternate fruits should the one you want not be in perfect condition on a given week.

Recipes are organized largely by season, and the individual recipes are listed in the table of contents, making them very easy to find. “Blushing Stone Fruits” includes such delights as Roasted Peach Melba, Deep-Dish Sour Cherry Pie, and an absolutely lovely Chilled Plum Soup with Sour Cream (Ms. Schacht notes that it’s quite good made with peaches too, and oh my is she right). “A Basket of Berries” will lead you to a Goat Yogurt Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries (the panna cotta’s super-creamy texture and mildly tangy taste are particularly delightful, and it’s incredibly easy to make). A Strawberry Buckwheat Tea Cake makes a particularly good breakfast or brunch food, and although it’s best eaten right away, I found it worked well when toasted the next morning. You might also try Cranberry-Orange Oat Bars or Mixed Berry Pavlovettes with Lemon-Lime Cream.

In “The Autumn Harvest” there are plenty of apple recipes, including Petite Salted Caramel Apples, as well as recipes using pears and figs (Amaretti-Filled Caramel Roasted Pears; Fresh Fig Bars; etc.). “Brilliant Winter Citrus” includes a “Tangerine-sicle Ice Cream” that I can’t wait to try; Key Lime Bars; Meyer Lemon Pudding; Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Orange Buttercream, and more. Obviously not all farmers’ markets are going to have things like Meyer lemons, but there’s nothing saying you can’t use produce from a good grocery store.

There’s a chapter that makes use of vegetables and tropical fruits, including a dessert pudding using avocado, and Mojito Melon Balls. The next chapter takes advantage of all the natural sweet things you’ll find at the market—honey, maple syrup, and jam—to present recipes such as Roasted Pumpkin Pie in a Maple-Pecan Crust, Apples & Honey Bundt Cake, and Maple Syrup Coffee Pots de Creme. Finally, you’ll find a chapter of desserts that take advantage of dried fruits, nuts, and herbs, such as Cherry-Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Lavender Walnut Sandies, and Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bark with Fleur de Sel.

The book wraps up with a list of sources and resources for unusual ingredients and equipment, some tips on finding your local farmers’ markets, and a good index. The book does a great job of laying flat and staying open. The photos are gorgeous and colorful, the pages are glossy and stand up well to use, and the layout of the recipes is clear and easy to read. So far we haven’t come across any mistakes in the recipes.

With such a wonderful combination of delightful results, fascinating recipes, and beautiful photos, it’s hard to go wrong!

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