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on 1 January 2007
I work as a pastry chef and own dessert books by authors such as Rose Levy Beranbaum, Maida Heatter, Marcel Desaulniers, etc. But none come close to this book. Maybe it is unfair to compare "baking" books to this cookbook, which could only be classified as a "dessert" book, but other "dessert" books (ie Michel Roux's Finest Desserts, Jacques Torres' Dessert Circus) still fall short of this book.

Gordon is clearly in a league of his own, his flavour combinations are original, creative, and ahead of their time, whilst still retaining a simplicity that allows any intermediate cook to approch them. I say this from experience, because I have owned this book well before I started my pastry apprenticeship.

To give you an understanding of why I admire this book so much, I will compare two fairly standard recipes from two different authors. Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Pie and Pastry Bible" contains a fairly comprehensive recipe for an apple pie. Those who are familiar with Beranbaum's books will no doubt be aware of the extensive research and time she would have spent in search of the "perfect" apple pie recipe. Her recipe is quite complex, although still straightforward, for an apple pie. The chunks of apple are basically "macerated" in sugar, lemon and spice for several hours, so that excess liquid (which may result in shrinkage during baking) is released from the fruit. This juice is then reduced to intensify flavour, then combined with the apple chunks, which are coated lightly with cornstarch. This mixture is placed in the pie shell as per any standard apple pie recipe, then topped with pastry and baked.

Rose's recipe is quite technical, almost overly technical, and while the result is very good, I believe that Gordon's approach is far more effective. Gordon's book contains a "Deep Dish Autumn Fruit Pie" which is essentially the same thing as an apple pie, except he used pears and plums as well as apples. The method Gordon employs to maximise the flavour of the fruit is faster and more intense; a knob of butter is heated in a large frying pan until stinking hot, then the chunks of fruit are tossed into the pan. A combination of sugar and chinese five-spice is sprinkled directly over the roasting fruit to encourage caramelisation and depth of flavour. Once a rich colour is achieved the fruit is sprinkled with liqueur and left to cool, then placed in a pie shell, topped and baked. Even if the recipe was made using only apples, the resulting pie would still be fantastic. Gordon's cooking is straightforward yet exciting, with maximum flavour being the top priority. While I respect the effort and love Rose Levy Beranbaum has invested into perfecting her recipes, Gordon's passion and intensity is far more inspiring to me than Rose's precise measurements and lengthy preparation times.

This is just one example - I could write pages on why I believe this book is best, but I hope this review has given some insight into my strong feelings regarding this book. In short, it isn't so much the recipes that set it apart from other dessert/baking books, but Gordon's enthusiastic, passionate approach to even the most simple of desserts, such as baked apples, right through to elaborate preparations such as "Orange Pannacotta, Honey Roasted Figs, Fresh Orange Sections, Orange Zest Confit" to the fun, colourful desserts such as "Caramelised Banana Bavarian" or "Roasted Baby Pineapples". The wait for a better dessert book will indeed by very, very long.
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on 9 February 2010
...the appropriate closing sentence of GR's sweet book introduction!

'I'd like to think that I have included something for everyone here. At least, I encourage you to master a few easy classics -perhaps roasted fruits, crème anglaise, chocolate ganache for truffles and possibly the little treacle tarts I made for Prime Minister Blair and President Putin.....'

Measuring in at approximately 21.5 cm x 27 cm, this 224 high quality shiny-paged hardback book is split into 9 chapters:-

* ices and creams (pages 50 - 83)
* mousses, bavarois and soufflés (pages 86 - 103)
* crêpes and batters (pages 107 - 119)
* homely puddings (pages 125 - 143)
* special occasions (pages 146 - 167)
* accompaniments and chocolates (pages 170 - 189)
* basics (pages 192 - 211)
* reference (pages 213 - 219)

sandwiched between an introduction and a comprehensive index.

From the front flap:-

'In Just Desserts, Britain's most exciting chef demystifies the notoriously tricky topic of desserts. Simplifying classical methods wherever possible, GR helps you to create a series of irresistible treats guaranteed to end any meal with a flourish. .......Just Desserts is set to become the definitive book on dessert making for years to come.'

A bold statement and it is very true to say that it has been done before...and since.....often..... but with this publication you do get that little 'je ne sais quoi' - by doing it the GR way!
It reads less like a technical manual and his chatter.....as always......encourages.

Between the durable covers are childhood memories revisited, special occasion food, the easy and the more ambitious, generally with that personal Ramsay tweak! Here we find the more well-known classics, such as 'Roasted Rhubarb and Apple Crumble' and 'Steamed Chocolate Pudding' mingling with the perhaps more unlikely sounding combinations of 'Tomato and Basil Sorbet' and 'Jasmine Tea and Lime Parfait'.

Basics include:-

* Crème Pâtissière
* Meringues
* Syrup
* Homemade Honeycomb
* Pastry

some with the added enhancement of useful step-by-step photography.

The 'Reference Section' includes notes on ingredients and equipment, along with a useful glossary of culinary terms. Also included is an informative 'wines to accompany desserts' section, with GR backing the school of thought which argues that 'a little glass of a suitable sweet wine CAN actually enhance a dessert'.....(if not replace it completely.... on the very rare occasion a 'bottle of Chateau d'Yquem 67' might happen along!)

Each recipe is clearly laid out, with the title, an opening note, the number of servings, the list of ingredients, the staged method and often finishing with a footnote regarding suitable embellishments or accompaniments.
There is sometimes more than one recipe to a page.

A further vital ingredient in cooked dessert recipes is the temperature of the oven and GR does address this in his notes:-

'Ovens should be preheated to the specified temperatures. Individual ovens can deviate by as much as 10°C from the setting, either way. Get to know your oven and use an oven thermometer to check its accuracy. My timings are given as guidelines, with a description of colour or texture where appropriate.'

A book that is certainly aimed at all levels, in my opinion - the beginner, those looking to accomplish something a little different and the more advanced dessert cook looking for something that little more creative.
My only criticism is that as is typical of one of the earlier GR publications, it is a little light on photography of the finished dishes, which may prove slightly negative to those of us who like to see what we are aiming for on the plate!
However the ones that are pictured are simply inspiring!

Other recipes include:-

* Marinated Cherries
* Bananas in Caramel Rum Syrup
* Blood Orange Jelly
* Baby Roasted Pineapples
* Crème Chantilly
* Mascarpone and Vanilla Hearts
* Strawberry and Vanilla Semi-freddo
* White Peach Parfaits
* Strawberry Sorbet
* Lemon Grass Granita
* Mango and Dark Chocolate Mousse
* Apricot and Passion Fruit Bavarois
* Crêpes
* Cherry and Almond Clafoutis
* Chocolate Sauce
* Deep-dish Autumn Fruit Pie
* Orange Pannacottas
* Financiers
* Lady's Fingers
* Brioche Loaf

and.....my current overall favourite......which is a new spin on old:-

* Dark and Delicious Chocolate Torte

'It seems every chef must have his or her ultimate orgiastic chocolate recipe with names like chocolate decadence, indulgence or nemesis. Well, this is mine. It is based on the little hot chocolate fondants we serve in winter and it occurred to me that if I dropped the flour and cocoa and baked it as a whole torte to be eaten cool it might just become a dinner party favourite..........'

Absolutely.......done!
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on 21 August 2013
Ordered this to have a book with only desserts. Nicely illustrated, simple instructions. There is an updated version of this book, but, it is a one I would recommend.

Although this book was damaged on delivery, by no fault of the supplier. They were more than helpful and considerate, a replacement was not available, but, another book of my choice was despatched to me immediately.

An excellent service by this supplier, where customers are important. I will purchase from them again.
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on 15 June 2003
I have been using this book for the better part of a year and have probably tried out 70% of the recipies. Incredibly, I have enjoyed a 100% success rate! His descriptions and explanations are clear and leave no doubts. Considering I am in Malaysia and many of the ingredients are hard to come by, the recipies are forgiving enough to still yield amazing results. I have created and recreated many of the items for friends and family and they always leave them asking for more. Gordon Ramsay is a culinary genius. His jellies in particular are an inspiration. His hot puddings, out of this world. Certainly not a book for the pure beginner but at the same time, a small amount of kitchen experience will have you recreating his genius relatively easily. Your friends and family will love it if there's any left after you've sampled it yourself.
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on 21 April 2015
I'm quite disappointed though I still think the book is very interesting. I was looking forward to Ramsay's creations but I got a course on french desserts, at least that's my first impression. When you think about it though, good basics are quite important right? Pity there aren't many really baked desserts there. Also my edition is quite old so with new pictures, layout and this book could be brilliant.
I recommend to advanced bakers.
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on 4 October 2014
Very dated book compared to recent offerings. The recipes are ok (despite a few errors) and the majority are pretty standard fare 13 years later. Not terrible by any means but don't expect great photography or anything more than a very 70's-ish book presentation...
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on 20 March 2013
I love baking and didn't realize Gordon Ramsay had a book just on desserts. It is excellent and I love the pictures. I am so glad he has a cookbook that is dedicated just to deserts and can't wait to try some of the recipes!
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on 20 June 2015
Loved this book, is only about desserts and probably some of the recipe are outdated but is still good to keep in my kitchen, good for leaning the basics of cooking desserts.
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on 30 January 2014
The recipes ij this book are authentic and the fact that Ramsey didn't mess about with it is admirable. It's exciting and realistic to prepare. Try the coconut barfis....
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on 7 November 2003
I got this book after his "secret" and "season" books. I read it and ... well, the recipes are really delicious. There is such a variety that is impressive. I think it will take a few years before I am able to completely assess all recipes.
There are standard ones and also more daring ones (like the pumpkin cheesecake). There are even few pages on basics like pate sucree and a wonderful mascarpone pastry. Just delicious.
On the "bad" side, the recipes have the same problem as in his other books: there is a great chance that you will have to change the cooking times. The mentioned ones are simply too short (and I own two very different ovens).
Apart from this, the book is very useful ... What about the photos and the other glittering features? This is a recipe book. There are mostly recipes and some mouthwatering photos. But this is essentially a recipe book ... a very excellent one.
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