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Inspired by Barbara Fairchild – A Weighty Look at Decades of Desserts

One of author Barbara Fairchild’s first answers during a Q and A session at Grand Central Bakery, where she introduced her new book Bon Appetit Desserts, was that her weighty tome tips the scales at a whopping 8 pounds.  She also pointed out that if you purchased two books, you could use them as literary barbells to help work off the weight you would gain by cooking through the recipes.  Well Barbara – you were right.  This book will send you straight to the gym, as it contains so many great recipes culled from the magazine’s archives.

Barbara is a delightful, down to earth woman, who will be stepping down as Editor in Chief of one of America’s favorite cooking magazines, after 30 years.  The word has come down from on high that the editorial offices are moving from Los Angeles back to New York and Barbara has decided to stay put.   However, she is justifiably proud of this book which has recipes for just about any sweet you can imagine and is bound to become a staple in many kitchens.

During the evening, we sampled our way though treats as basic as classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (p.530) to a Chocolate Caramel Sliced Cookie  (p.602) topped with sea-salt that will be joining my holiday repertoire.  There was an amazing Lemon and Pistachio Praline Meringue Torte (p.166) that normally wouldn’t have called to me, but once I took a bite I couldn’t put my fork down.

Many of the recipes are ones that I remember from the 30 years that I have subscribed to Bon Appetit.  Some I wish I had saved and are now found thanks to this book, and others are snippets buried in files that I can now toss.  During the evening, Barbara shared reader’s comments, focusing at one point on a cake that had been on the cover in the 1980’s and been a clear reader favorite:  the Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons.  OMG – do I ever remember that cake!  It became a legend in our household.  Many moons ago, it was the day of the first dinner party my hubby and I ever had.  THE CAKE was on the cover of Bon Appetit and I decided to blow everyone away by making it for dessert.  8 hours later, and a scant hour before company was to arrive, I finished.  Great – but had I started any other part of the dinner – no.  My husband dashed to the store to pick-up a pre-roasted chicken and some other pre-cooked items in a valiant attempt to salvage the party, his tearful very stressed out wife, and the evening.  Many lessons were learned that night….

Bon Appetit Desserts is priced at $40 and includes a years subscription to the magazine with purchase.  It would make a wonderful holiday gift for aspiring to experienced cooks.   Let me know what you think and your recipe favorites!





Food Photos by Norma Rosenthal; Barbara Fairchild & Norma taken by Alicia Arter.

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