cover image Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops

Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops

Dorie Greenspan. Clarkson N Potter Publishers, $26 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0681-4

Greenspan, the author of Baking with Julia and a frequent contributor to the food pages of the New York Times, here compiles recipes from ""les bonnes adresses,"" collecting secrets for perfect madeleines, macaroons, apple tarts and other classic French desserts. She embellishes her cookbook with anecdotes and histories, explaining that, for example, creme brulee is actually a Spanish invention (known there as crema catalana) and that Saint-Honore is the patron saint of pastry chefs. Greenspan also includes descriptions of some of her favorite Parisian bakeries, introducing American readers to the pleasures of Laduree and La Maison du Chocolat. The recipes themselves often involve numerous steps and a certain amount of technique; although Greenspan writes with a reassuring tone, most of this cookbook is not for beginners. Even the ""simple cakes"" require practice to perfect. But even if you don't intend to concoct a twelve-step cake called ""Bacchus"" (""it could send a hedonist's heart racing into overDrive"") any time soon, simply reading Greenspan's transporting cookbook might be the next best thing to dessert.