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on 14 April 2007
I'm a pretty good cook by all accounts, but however much I try, mastering desserts seems to be beyond me. This has previously frustrated me no end, not least when a friend of mine who needs step-by-step instructions to produce a bowl of pasta whipped up a chocolate mousse to die for without batting an eyelid.

Anyway, I decided that a book dedicated to desserts would be the way forward and, having successfully tried a few James Martin recipes in the past that I found on the BBC website, his was my book of choice. I was not disappointed. His writing is very clear, without the patronising tone of Mary Berry and Delia Smith (apologies to the British institution) or the overly informal chatty tone of Jamie Oliver which irritates me no end. He is particularly clear about how to prepare the various utensils and dishes, and is very descriptive of what the various stages should look like. This meant that if anything went wrong, I knew straightaway, rather than previous experiences of blissfully plodding forward and being left with a soggy mess.

Hence, I can now produce a sticky toffee pudding that looks and tastes how it should as well as a few other staples that previous recipes have failed me on. My only gripe is that he sometimes is a little on the technical side with his terminology and the recipes never become as adventurous as they could be. Having said that, there is more than enough to keep anyone busy. Though it may not do the waistline much good!!
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on 19 April 2007
I bought this - based on the fact that I was given his "Winter" cookbook as a present - and from it made the best Christmas cake I have ever made! I am an avid "baker" and had tried many recipes - but will always use his from now on. This book did not disappoint - easy to follow, good hints and tips, and a variety of old and new recipes. I particularly like the fact that he wants to keep old recipes alive - and passes on his family recipes, and that he has no truck with tiny, "nouvelle cuisiney" portions which concentrate on looks rather than taste. Good, gutbusting stuff - not for the size zero brigade!
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I have a `sweet tooth' and for me the dessert is often the best part of a meal - certainly the opportunity for a flourishing finale. Therefore I was pre-conditioned to appreciate `Desserts', but completely on merit I became hooked when on first taking a peek the book fell open at lemon curd syllabub - how glorious - how simple! I read on to be further transfixed by acclaimed TV chef James Martin's clear instructions alongside mouthwatering illustrations throughout his book. He embraces everything from `homely' cooking instructions to exotic recipes with many of his offerings as `standards' for `favourite' puddings and sweets but also presentation of new ideas of his own or details gleaned from other sources such as WI cake-stalls. Not surprisingly the book starts with fundamentals such as pastries, sponges, straightforward puddings and custard, sauces etc. after which it is then divided into 5 main collections of Hot puddings, Cold puddings, Tarts and flans, Cakes and bakes, and Ice creams and sorbets. Apart from Acknowledgements `Desserts' finishes with some brief information on kitchen equipment, food outlets and suppliers plus a comprehensive and detailed index. This is not a cookbook to languish on the shelf, but is an inspirational aide for the kitchen worktop.
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on 26 July 2009
As a fan of james martin I have been rather dissapointed by this book. The pictures and recipie ideas are great. Such a shame it is let down by glaring inaccuracies and errors in the actual recipies. I have now had 3 different recipies completely fail (expensively) due to incorrect quantities and some complete omissions of vital ingredients. My advice - look at the pictures but dont trust the content.
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on 4 January 2009
I am led to the conclusion that James Martin - or more likely one of his minions - didn't test these recipes as they are written in the book. Whether through laziness or arrogance I don't know but I've just cooked the worst sticky toffee pudding ever because the quantity of bicarbonate is written incorrectly. Very disappointing.
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on 9 July 2007
I bought this book recently, tempted by the fabulous pictures and the mouth watering recepies. James explains things in a very straightforward way, but my only gripe is that he does assume that everyone owns microwaves, ice cream makers and food processors. It would have been nice to have alternatives ways given. If you want to make ice creams or food without gadgets, I have to suggest Delia or Nigella!
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on 18 May 2010
As a Chef I was quite excited to see James Martin release a book dedicated exclusively to Desserts which he of course well known to be a great fan of. In theory a book such as this by someone who proclaims to be a true dessert fanatic should be a gold mine of information and classic recipes. Sadly this is far from the truth.
I had waited almost a full year before reviewing this book as I wanted to give it a fair and honest assessment that can only come with a reasonably extensive experimentation of the contents.

In short my Husband, who is also a chef, and I have had a success rate of approximately 40% with this book. The other recipies are painfully inaccurate in terms of quantities, methodology and final product. An example of this is his Tart au Citron or Lemon tart. Follow the recipe exactly and you will find you have four times the amount of filling that you require. A massive waste of ingredients.

In the end the one redeeming factor about this book is that it gives you the foundation on which to base a recipe on if you have no idea how to make something. However you would need a great deal of instinct and adaptation to make it come out right.

I am not sure if this book's shortcomings are due to errors in editing; or perhaps not full disclosure on the part of the writer on how to reproduce his precious recipies. This would be a shame as too many chefs nowadays are more intent on selling lots of books instead of parting with the wisdom that customers have paid for in buying them.
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on 23 January 2010
Have now tried 3 separate desserts from this book, and all 3 have been complete disaters and been thrown straight in the bin! Quantitys were completely wrong for the cheesecake and had to throw a third of the mix due to not fitting in the specified tin. Have wasted alot of money on ingredeints and the book!
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on 15 December 2008
This is a fine book with some lovely recipes. However what lets it seriously down is the apparent failure of anyone to have properly proof read the book. There are numerous typos - tablespoons that should be teaspoons, cake tins that are way too small for the amount in the recipe etc. The worst example I have come across is a recipe for lemon tart. Nothing wrong with the recipe - just that the amount of filling could have made at least 4 tarts! This meant a lot of waste of food and money. These kind of basic errors should not make it through to the published copies of glossy books like these. Incredibly annoying!
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on 20 December 2011
Luckily I borrowed this book from the library before buying it. Although I would say I am a quite experienced amateur cook, all of the recipes I tried failed and I was left very disappointed. The recipes look nice, but what good is that if they cant be made following the instructions. If you have to adapt recipes and change them, you might as well write your own cookery book and save your money!!
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