Give dessert the attention it deserves with these new cookbooks
Come summer, barbecues seem to snag all the glory, but really, it’s the season when sweet things can take on new brilliance and importance.
After all, what is a hot, golden July day without a Twister lolly melting down your wrist? Can you get more sophisticated than affogato (ice cream doused in espresso) in August? And what can beat the chewy, creamy crunch of Eton mess and gooseberry fool on a June evening?
However, if your summer pudding game tends to lean solely towards ice pops and strawberries and cream, find inspiration in these new cookbooks dedicated to dessert…
Gelupo Gelato by Jacob Kenedy
(Bloomsbury Publishing, £14.99) – available May 27
Chef and restaurateur Jacob Kenedy’s new book is a witty, compact, highly enthusiastic ode to all things gelato. Free of pictures, it’s illustrated boldly in a manner that alleviates the pressure to make ice cream parlour-worthy peaks at home – you can just have fun and experiment instead. The simplicity of the recipes makes it rather child-friendly too.
Most intriguing are Kenedy’s flavour combinations: liquorice, Aperol, ricotta, black pepper and chocolate, apple strudel, lemon and rosemary – his concoctions are the ice cream equivalent of Farrow and Ball tones. Picking just one is near impossible. It’s not just gelato he celebrates either, but sundaes and ice cream cakes, granita and sorbets. Clear the freezer now.
Wild Sweetness by Thalia Ho
(Harper Collins, £25) – out now
There is a sense of the ethereal to Butter and Brioche blogger Thalia Ho’s writings and recipes. She makes you recall childhood ramblings; scratching your arms on blackberry brambles and getting the red juice of strawberries all over your clothes and face while illicitly eating your ‘pick your own’ haul, long before you reached the till.
Nature, its sweetness and bounty, defines her new cookbook, which mirrors the seasons and what can be snaffled and when. There’s a freshness to her dishes too. Have you ever tried juniper and white chocolate ice cream? Or parsnip cake with tahini frosting? The book’s muted palette also feels very elegant, very grown up; despite the nostalgia that seeps from the pages.
Peggy Porschen: A Year in Cake
(Quadrille, £22) – available June 10
Sometimes – even on a hot summer’s day – a huge slice of cake is the only thing that will do. Fortunately, Peggy Porschen has you absolutely covered. Admittedly, her creations are as pink and frothy as her London bakeries (she calls them ‘parlours’), but don’t let that distract from the decadent summer berry cupcakes, lemon elderflower tartlets and ombre cherry and chocolate cake.
If pudding for you is exquisitely detailed, highly iced and decorated to the hilt, you’ll find this quite heavenly.
La Vita è Dolce by Letitia Clark
(Hardie Grant, £26) – available June 24
If you follow chef Letitia Clark on Instagram, you’ll be familiar with the pangs of longing her Cezanne-like shots of fresh picked lemons, Mediterranean sunsets and technicolor salads of burrata, fennel and blood orange. British-born, Clark now lives in Sardinia, but she dampens the envy her life can induce by sharing it – especially the food. And oh, does the food look incredible.
While her 2020 debut cookbook, Bitter Orange, captured the crisp fried delicacies of the Italian island, as well as its wonderful dependency on olive oil and all the cheese (roasted pecorino, ricotta ravioli…), La Vita è Dolce zones in on nutty biscotti, tarts that sing with fruit, Campari spiked tortes and panna cotta galore. The Italians know their sweet stuff, and Clark has extracted all the goodness for us.