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Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts [Hardcover]

Claire Clark , Thomas Keller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 2 2011

Learn to craft desserts from a master pv¢tissier. Claire Clark is the pastry chef at The French Laundry (Napa Valley in California) , one of America`s most renowned restaurants. Its innovative and creative menus always deliver the highest standards of quality and great taste. Its celebrated desserts, made by Clark, are nothing short of remarkable. Indulge is a collection of Claire Clark`s favorites dishes that any home chef can re-create. Perfectly decadent, the recipes in this new cookbook range from the deceptively simple to the more exotic. Included are cookies, cakes, pastries, mousses, ices, meringues, custards and creams, and more. Clark`s down-to-earth writing style demystifies such sumptuous sweets as: Red wine and chocolate cake Bitter chocolate, praline brvªlv©e and espresso torte Orange and pistachio semolina cake Fig and blueberry and crv©me fravÆche tart Rich chocolate ganache tart with salted caramel and candied peanuts Tropical fruit Pavlova Mango, ginger and lime sorbet. Along with the recipes there are valuable tips and techniques learned during Claire Clark`s 20 years as a pastry chef in world famous restaurants.


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Review

Irresistible .... [has] enticed me to start measuring ingredients with a scale in the true pastry-chef fashion. (Bonnie Stern The National Post 2007-12-01)

Claire's Notes ... give the book a voice and a sense of the pastry chef's many years of experience. (The Globe and Mail 2007-12-15)

About the Author

Claire Clark is the executive pastry chef at The French Laundry, the renowned Napa Valley restaurant.

Thomas Keller is the celebrated chef, writer and restaurateur behind The French Laundry and the author of the award-winning The French Laundry Cookbook.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
This Scottish favourite has a wonderful buttery taste and firm but light crumb - an irresistible combination. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and a pleasure to read July 15 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A well written, pleasure to read book of decadent and simplistic desserts and sweets. Difficulty rating from beginner to expert with lots in between is my guage of the books usability having just made a few recipes and being a chef by trade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book! May 3 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book is wonderful - intimidating at first, but the recipes are surprisingly easier than I thought they would be (and delicious!).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique, delicious recipes that will challenge your culinary know-how Dec 16 2007
By VTS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts, by Claire Clark, is an inspiring collection of unique recipes that range in difficulty from moderate to complex. As an experienced home baker & cook I appreciated how this book challenged me to up the proverbial ante. Though recipes for things like apple and cinnamon charlotte, carrot cake and shortbread don't require too much kitchen know-how, other recipes will force you to flex your culinary muscles. A recipe for Feuilles D'Automne (which consists of layers of hazelnut meringue sandwiched with a hazelnut chocolate mousse and covered in crisp chocolate leaves) requires you to know how to make meringue, mousse, and how to temper chocolate, for instance. Clark has helpfully included a "Secrets of Success" section at the beginning of each chapter, which is filled with tips that teach you how to master many of the skills utilized in the book. She also includes a useful index of UK to US conversions (which lets you know that what she calls "cornflour" is called "cornstarch" stateside), as well as notes with most recipes, where she guides you through especially difficult steps and shares tricks she has used in her own kitchen. Under her instruction ordinary gingerbread becomes a veritable feast for the senses, with individual gingerbreads covered with crystallized rose petals, syrup and butter cream. I was especially delighted with her recipe for "dumph noodle," which is a kind of bread smothered with homemade crème anglaise. It was a tremendous hit with everyone who tried it and has been added to my list of favorite recipes.

Because the recipes in this book have such a wide range of difficulty, "Indulge" would best be enjoyed by someone with a solid foundation of culinary knowledge and a desire to greatly improve their skill. Anyone who can bake, cook and meringue their way through the entirety of this book will find themselves in possession of a wealth of invaluable know-how. The only caveat I would offer is this: unless you are already an accomplished baker/cook, many of the recipes will be daunting. I have yet to master Clark's recipe for Turkish Delight, which though I've followed it to the letter three times, has ended in complete disaster on every occasion. When this happens I find myself thinking about those "Star Trek" moments when Bones would turn to Jim and say something like "I'm a doctor Jim, not a pilot!" Well, in my case I'm a baker not a candy maker, and I'm completely fine working through the learning curve. One of these days I will master the magic of Turkish delight! In the meantime I have my dumph noodle, honey madeleines, and many other scrumptious treats to keep me company.

Chapters include: Biscuits and Cookies; Cakes; Pastry; Meringues; Custards and Creams; Desserts, Mousses and Jellies; Puddings; Ices and Petits Fours. A "Suppliers" index is also included at the back of the book.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, well-written, well-photographed Jan. 16 2008
By Cookbook Gal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Baking and Books has done a good job of discussing Indulge. My two cents: the recipes are interesting, the photography is beautiful. I plan to make the Popcorn Ice Cream (yes, you read that correctly!) This book will definitely challenge a beginner, but the author's instructions are so well written and comprehensive, that this would be a great book for a beginner with which to hone his or her skills. It will also please experienced home bakers: Clark provides measurements in both grams and cups, and lists oven temperatures in Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Gas Marks (thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Some other recipes: Lemon Posset, Battenburg Cake, Spiced Pumpkin Custard with Orange Infused Granola, Apple Strudel (check out Great Coffee Cakes, by Carole Walter for even better rolling instructions, or Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard). I list some of the recipes because I think it's important that someone looking for a homey, every day baking book with recipes for quickbreads, American layer cakes, etc., should pick another book. If you want interesting, old European recipes, plus some innovative desserts, this is the book for you.

Two more observations: the author is English, I believe, so some of her terminology can be confusing to Americans, but the publisher provides a helpful "translation" index at the front of the book. Finally, a number of ingredients are going to be hard to find if you don't live near a major city, so you will have to order them via the internet (examples: gelatin sheets, hibiscus flowers).
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A BRITISH APPROACH TO FRENCH PASTRY May 12 2008
By C. Terzis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is something 'different' when a british pastry chef writes a pastry book. It is maybe the marriage of Anglosaxon conservatism and tradition with French flair and influences in pastry that makes the British pastry chef to just create!
This book continues the line of good British pastry books like the ones by Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsey and others.
The recipes are in both Metric and Imperial and the temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Recipes range from simple to elaborate and they include gingerbread cake, orange pistachio syrup cake, battenburg, bakewell tart, lemon tart, jalousie, meringues, creme caramel, mousses including a baked chocolate mousse, jellies puddings and ice cream among many others. I find the best section of the book to be the Cookie/Biscuit chapter. I particularly like the shortbread recipe.
This book would do for an amateur baker but not all recipes are approachable.
Most of the recipes are for restaurant not pastry shop desserts.
The author gives sufficient intructions at the beggining of each chapter and of each recipe to facilitate any user. There are tips on the side of every recipe, with extra instructions, suggestions or variations.
The decoration of the finished products is a marriage between British conservatism and French modernism, that is it's not as bad as the British and not as good as the French, but it is good none the less.
Many of the combinations are too weird for my taste eg 'Spiced pumpkin custard with orange infused granola', but that's just my taste and this is my review.
One thing that put me off a bit is the general atmosphere of elevating the author, that makes itself felt throughout the book. To quote the backcover flap, describing the author: "...where she established herself as one of the world's greatest pastry chefs." In the continent, you can get pastry chefs of this level a dime a dozen.
All in all, this is a good book and I am not sorry that I bought it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated flavors July 8 2011
By Toni - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Claire Clark was living in the U.K. and dazzling the British crowds with her amazing pastry talents until she was lured by Thomas Keller to come and work at his own restaurant in the U.S. From 2005-2008 she filled her impressive resume as the head pastry chef at "The French Laundry" restaurant in California. A definite upscale clientele with sophisticated tastes.

Having "been there, done that" for so many notable gastronomic places, she decided strike out on her own and head back to the U.K. for her own chance at ownership and even harder work by wearing one more hat as proprieter.

But during her employ at "The French Laundry", Ms. Clark produced this voluminous book of sweet tastes and temptations, in 2007. It has been worth the wait, to be sure. This is such a full book of information, that I have used it as a reference guide for baking details, hints, and directions; she seems to have left nothing to chance to spoil your efforts.

In my opinion, I have found that pastry books fall into two marvelous categories: "Average Joe" or "Fancy Pants"; I didn't think I could find one that fell in between, a "marriage" of sorts. This effort has, and it has done so beautifully. At the same time, I have to admit that for me, some of the desserts were a bit too sophisticated, though not a negative thing.

The physical appearance and presentation style of the book was impressive for me. Heavy and voluminous, she spared nothing in giving 100 beautiful and beckoning desserts. The pages are a dark cream-colored paired with mostly cranberry partners. A recipe ribbon is included (don't ask me why but that is such a draw for me; it seems to shout out "fancy" and I shout right back "thank you!"). As an added note, on the information page prior to the "Contents" section, there is a descriptive note about the text and its typeface; another "fancy" shout out.

The photography is pristine, clear, and styled without too many of the usual food styling props that you might see in magazines and such. You get the dessert. Period. I like that very much in my "fancy pants" books, thank you. Though I am one for as many photo's as possible in a cookbook, not all the recipes are accompanied by photos. But in defense of that, for those who enjoy this type of baking, you need to be pretty comfortable in the kitchen already. I do not feel that this is a beginners level book, but I wouldn't discourage someone if they enjoy this venue.

Which brings me to the next point: the book gives both metric and Imperial weights (U.K. measures). I have learned that scaling your ingredients makes them become far better and trusted friends when it comes to desserts. Therefore any book that gives you both, also gives you far better chances of success. Example: US = 1 teas/UK = 5ml. Though they might seem that they should be the same, when you weight them out, there can be just the slightest difference in the amounts that can produce a different taste or different texture.

Ms. Clark also includes "Claire's Notes" in most recipes which are little hints and suggestions that can add or subtract actions, alter flavors, or change steps dependent on an altered outcome, or just give generic information.

Rather than give all 100 recipes, I would like to present scattered recipes from each section, some of which I have already tried with great success. Many of the categories are short with just a handful of recipes. Each section begins with "The Secrets of Success" which is a mini-tutorial of sorts for that area.

FOREWARD: by "The French Laundry" owner/chef Thomas Keller

INTRODUCTION: This was a thoroughly enjoyable, brief autobiography of sorts detailing some of the lessons learned during her growing years in the pastry field. I particularly like her sentence. "if you're going to cry, do it in private"; basically if you're going to play with the big dogs, you gotta work on that thick skin as you become a team player.

NOTES for AMERICAN READERS: This speaks of the need for scales when baking, and a glossary of American/British terms that are used in the book; it is printed on a mustard-colored page for quick visual access .

BISCUITS and COOKIES: Oatmeal, Pecan, and Raisin Cookies (pretend that they're totally healthy while you drink these with a glass of cold milk), Frascati Biscuits (almost like Biscotti). French Macaroons (of course!), Amaretti (a great gluten-free cookie: I added pinenuts/pignoli).

CAKES: Carrot Cake (this was outstanding in that it has a very, very sophisticated, adult/grown-up taste to it, not like the usual sugar-laden carrot cakes. I noted in another review regarding the amount of baking powder used and yes, it does measure out to a scant 2 tablespoons). Frosted Banana Cake, Sachertorte, Lemon Cake, Battenburg Cake (very beautiful when served as there are 4 alternating squares of 2-color batter), Chocolate Fudge Brownies.

PASTRY: Puff Pastry, Warm Chocolate and Raspberry Tarts, Tart Tatin, Lemon Tart, Old-Fashioned Eccles Cakes, Apple/Cinnamon/Sultana Strudel (this was incredible; the raisins/sultana's were so plump and juicy and the apple just the right texture enveloped in a perfect dough), Cream Puffs, and Eclairs (I used a yellow custard and not the chocolate pastry cream; for me, eclairs HAVE to have custard).

MERINGUES: Lemon Meringue (different in presentation from the typical American version).

CUSTARDS and CREAMS: Creme Caramel,Creme Brulee (outstanding).

DESSERTS, MOUSSES, and JELLIES: Baked Vanilla Cheesecake, Baked Chocolate Mousse, Opera Cake (my next cake when I have a lot of time; an exquisite presentation).

PUDDINGS: Hot Chocolate Souffles, Apple & Cinnamon Charlotte.

ICES: Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry Ice Cream.

PETIT FOURS: Langues de Chat, Honey Madeleines, Verjus-Plumped Raisin Financiers, Almond Roches, Coffee & Walnut Fudge, Marshmallows & Hot Chocolate.

SUPPLIERS

INDEX

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

If you enjoy a challenge, as well as some upscale desserts, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. She placed much effort into explaining details of baking in which a solid baking foundation must be built upon. Using that knowledge will help you in presenting the same delicious offerings that are within these pages. Peace.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Nov. 14 2007
By Eliza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love to bake and have many cookbooks, but this one belongs to my favourites.
Full of real knowledge and inspiration. For me it's also important that the author is the experienced pastry chef and reading this book you feel that she exactly knows what she talks about. And - not like many other authors - she wants to share her knowledge with you.
Recipes are clearly explained. Simple (like shortbread), and more difficult like creme brulee or difficult like Opera. It's a book not for beginner, rather for someone who has some experiences in baking.
And also this book is just beautiful - with modern pictures and nice colours.
Highly reccomended!
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