TITLE: Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi
AUTHOR: Yotam Ottolenghi, Helen Goh
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Cookbooks, Food & Wine, Desserts, Baking
PUBLISHED: October 3, 2017
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon iBookStore
MOBILISM LINK: Read Here
Review:: Whenever there is news about a new book from Yotam Ottolenghi, my ears always perk up and I immediately start keeping tabs on the book's release date. Yotam, the co-owner/chef-patron of the Ottolenghi delis and NOPI restaurant in London, is synonymous with Middle-Eastern cuisine, as well as the James Beard Award-winning author of the bestselling cookbooks Plenty, Plenty More, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, and Jerusalem. Yotam writes weekly columns for various newspapers, his mission as he says is to "celebrate vegetables or pulses without making them taste like meat, or as complements to meat, but to be what they are. It does no favour to vegetarians, making vegetables second best.” This is one of the main reasons why he is one of my favourite chefs. Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book, Sweet, co-written with Helen Goh, a talented pastry chef and successful psychotherapist from Melbourne, Australia.
Sweet is not necessarily strictly from the restaurants and delis, but rather Middle-Eastern variations on lots of popular offerings, having said that it does include everything from the chain as well, true recipes to the T. It might surprise to many people that his new cookbook’s entire focal point is desserts but then for him, it’s basically returning to his roots - pastry chef at three top London restaurants, which included Michelin star as well. One of the things I love most about his cookbooks is their conversational type of description, which is simple and non-fussy to understand. Sweet is 400 pages long and each recipe has been tested extensively by his team, having said that I know the initial US edition of the book had a number of errors. (I know there is a replacement program for the people who bought this version of book which the corrected one.)
Sweet is a collection of cookies, cakes, and more that can be made at any time of the year. Sourcing most of the ingredients should be fairly simple, the instructions are clear and concise. The whole gamut of recipes are geared towards bakers with various level of experience. Instructions are clear and concise with all the recipes. The citrusy notes and eastern exotic spice combinations take the classic cakes and cookies on a different level altogether; e.g. the brownie recipe in Sweet has shards of halva folded into the batter. Classic British treacle tarts have the addition of crystalized sage. I hate it when cookbooks are stingy on food photography, Sweet has gorgeous, and lush food photography but my complaint will be that each recipe should have a picture of how the finished product should look however that wasn’t the case with some of them.
Sweet is divided into 7 sections focusing on Cookies, Mini Cakes, Cakes, Cheesecakes, Tarts and Piers, Desserts, and Confectionery. Since the book is divided into chapters by the type of dessert, it makes recipes much easier to locate. The Baker's Tips and Notes section is tremendously helpful, it explains various steps in further more detail, for e.g. how to make a water ganache and the importance of resting doughs are explained clearly and thoroughly. There is also section which explains the different variety of ingredients and also the recommended alternatives in case some are hard to source for. Each recipe contains tips on various tools required, timing and storage information, and discusses any substitutions or special techniques that may be used in the recipe.
Passion Fruit Cheesecakes with Spiced Pineapple, Baked Ricotta Cheesecake, Pistachio and Rosewater Semolina Cake, Rosemary Olive Oil Orange Cake, Chai Tarts, Yogurt Panna Cotta with Crushed Raspberries, Compari & Grapefruit Sorbet, Chocolate Peanut Butter S’mores, Apricot and Thyme Galettes with Polenta Pastry, Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting, and Chocolate and Pecan Cookies are just few of my favourite to name.
Campari and Grapefruit Sorbet
SERVES 6 (AT THE END OF A MEAL), 12 (IN THE MIDDLE) OR MORE (AT THE START OF A MEAL)
500ml fresh ruby red grapefruit juice (from 2–5 grapefruit, depending on their size and juiciness)
60ml lemon juice
100ml orange juice
200g caster sugar
1 If you are going to make the Chocolate-coated Ruby Red Grapefruit Peel, follow the slicing instructions here, retaining the flesh for use here, and storing the peel until ready to use. Otherwise, cut each grapefruit in half and remove the flesh. Make sure there are no pips in the flesh, then place it in a blender or food processor and blend until the grapefruit is crushed. Strain it into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve: you need 500ml of juice, so feel free to drink any excess (or make a cocktail with it).
2 Add the lemon and orange juice to the grapefruit juice and mix together. Pour 250ml of this into a small saucepan with the sugar, and set the remaining juice aside. Heat the pan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Pour this into the remaining juice, add the Campari, and chill completely by setting it over an ice bath or placing it in the fridge.
3 Once chilled, transfer to an ice cream maker and churn until soft waves form. Transfer the sorbet to a container, cover with cling film – so that the cling film is actually touching the surface of the sorbet, to prevent ice particles forming – and seal the container. Freeze until firm enough to scoop into a glass, and serve.
TIP - Ideally, an ice cream maker is needed to churn the sorbet. If you don’t have one, you can churn it yourself, stirring the mix every few hours to break up the formation of ice crystals before returning it to the freezer. Once churned, the sorbet will keep in the freezer for about 1 week.
Sweet has something for everyone, both in terms of skill and of taste. It’s one of the perfect example of ‘East meets West’ with its exotic eastern spices and ingredients provide a fresh outlook and flavourings on western classics. It's a definite winner and a keeper for any lover of baking.
"Sometimes people don’t like the idea that you’re messing with something they know and love,” Goh says. "But then they taste it, and I think the proof is in the pudding."