Jean Paré is Canadas own Martha Stewart (minus, thank goodness, the financial shenanigans), a sort-of catering inspired, one-chef empire with its self-owned Companys Coming publishing factory that churns off endless tomes of her recipes and claims sales of over twenty million books worldwide.
Parés latest, Decadent Desserts, joins its syrupy call to her six other books on desserts, as well as to the countless sugary treats to be found in the dessert sections of the rest of her cookbooks. Hers is a one-woman oeuvre to satisfy all the cravings of this nations overly indulged sweet-tooth. Our TimBit Nation can, thanks to her, now kick back with white-chocolate fortified Orange Layered Cake, or a shimmering Coconut Soufflé Mousse, or even (are you sitting down?) a spectacular Hazelnut Meringue Torte, which is unabashedly worth every single one of its 669 calories (per serving), because lifes too short to spend worrying about arteries.
The range of categories cover the gamut of dinners final and best-loved course. Cakes, custards, crêpes, pies, meringues, mousses/soufflés are all present, as are frozen goodies (gelatos, sorbets, ice creams) and also warm desserts, including an easy-to-perfect account of Molten Chocolate Cake (525 calories per serving), that gorgeous, airy confection with a bleeding heart that oozes runny chocolate when pierced, and which has always amazed us at a restaurant while seeming too complex to attempt at home.
The book is loaded with brightly printed lush-enough-to-lick photographs, full-colour and often full-page. Even more useful are the ten-page introduction and the sixteen-page epilogue, both fully illustrated with colour photographs, and jammed with essential dessert making information that covers necessary equipment, and detailed procedures. All youll ever need to know for the recreation of an exacting, Martha Stewart/Jean Paré style, professional luxury dessert.
My one quibble with the work is Parés decision to mimic the Gourmet Magazine space-saving method of recipe writing, wherein ingredients are not repeated in the steps, calling instead for the first three or the next six, and forcing a constant referral to the list of ingredients, as well as a cruel demand on ones mathematical abilities. It is difficult enough to wade in the murky waters of relentless egg-white beating and chocolate melting, to begrudge us a few extra words in the recipe-steps of an otherwise opulent book.
Byron Ayanoglu (Books in Canada)
-- Books in Canada