Dessert Circus at Home: Fun, Fanciful, And Easy-To-make Desserts


Celebrated pastry chef Jacques Torres has finally answered the sweet dream of his readers: a dessert cookbook specially designed for the home cook! A follow–up of his first book, Dessert Circus, this new cookbook offers mouthwatering desserts that can easily be made in the home kitchen. He has taken his incredible scientific knowledge of ingredients and baking and used that to develop foolproof recipes for Mochachino Cake, Apple Crisp, Babka, and Upside–Down Lemon Cake and playful desserts like Chocolate Mousse ...

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Celebrated pastry chef Jacques Torres has finally answered the sweet dream of his readers: a dessert cookbook specially designed for the home cook! A follow–up of his first book, Dessert Circus, this new cookbook offers mouthwatering desserts that can easily be made in the home kitchen. He has taken his incredible scientific knowledge of ingredients and baking and used that to develop foolproof recipes for Mochachino Cake, Apple Crisp, Babka, and Upside–Down Lemon Cake and playful desserts like Chocolate Mousse and Porcupine. He also lets children get in on the fun with recipes for homemade Lollipops, Marshmallows, Chocolate Balloons, and Graham Crackers.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review

An Interview with Jacques Torres

At this time of the year, when waistlines have, perhaps, expanded more than hoped for from holiday overindulgence, a cookbook of desserts may not be high on the list of necessities. But I'm here to tell you that the highly esteemed pastry master Jacques Torres has produced a book that is a must-have, no matter the season, no matter the reason. Dessert Circus at Home brings all of the artistry of the classic French pastry kitchen to the American home cook. And what fun it is!

Having had the good fortune to observe Jacques Torres at work as both a baker and a teacher and to indulge in many of his wonderfully amusing, highly intricate, and super-delicious desserts, I couldn't imagine a technician of his exactitude produci ng a cookbook of recipes that were truly home-cook accessible. But he has done just that!

"How did this book come about?" I inquired. "My first book, Dessert Circus at Home," he replied, "was a gathering of d esserts that I had developed in my years of restaurant work — both in France and the United States. It featured plated desserts and included a chapter of more challenging recipes for the accomplished home baker." "The book was so well received," I said. "Yes, it was," Jacques noted with no small amount of pride. "But some wanted a book that was even simpler, one that focused on cakes, tarts, and 'one-step' recipes. So, I decided that I would create a book that would be filled with recipes that would be easy and fun for everyone to do. In the first book, I did give many baking hints. InDessertCircus at Home, I have tried to go even further and explain such things as why flour and water become elastic. I have attempted to discuss m any of the basic rules of pastry making so that the home cook will know why and how things work. I hope that I have succeeded." I guaranteed him that he had, indeed, done just that.

On the day that I spoke with Jacques, I had spent the morning in the test kitchen working with chocolate, and couldn't have eaten a piece of the world's best confection if you had offered me a hundred dollars (I started to say a million, but I bet I could have found a taste for chocolate with the lure of lottery winnings!). This led me to ask Jacques if he still ate desserts. "Every day," he answered. "I never get tired of sweets — either eating them or making them." "Do you have a favor ite?" I asked. "No," the master baker countered, "whatever I'm making or whatever is on my plate is my favorite of the moment."

Although Dessert Circus at Home is chock-a-block with many basic recipes, many are just fun to do and make creative projects for a chilly winter's afternoon. What could be more fun or easier than creating a confectionery caterpillar out of store- bought ingredients when the instructions have been put together by Jacques Torres? He doesn't make you feel as though you have cheated one bit by supplementing your home baking with ready-made ingredients. This is, I think, particularly unusual (an d something that I'm grateful for) because so many cookbooks ask the home cook to perform miracles using exotic ingredients and spending hours in the kitchen.

I asked Jacques Torres if he could offer any advice to the beginning baker. "First learn to make a great pie or tart — it will take a little practice as you learn to make the dough and, when necessary, the cream and then learn how to add the fru it to make a beautiful presentation. Make this your featured dessert until you have mastered it. Then move on to pound cakes and then other cakes. If you take your time and are patient, you will become a master baker." These are warm words of enc ouragement from a master who has more than mastered his craft. I can tell you that you will find your road to master baker paved with recipe after recipe from Dessert Circus at Home.—Judith Choate,

An education in dessert preparation is provided by Jacques Torres, executive pastry chef at New York's Le Cirque 2000. In his book, Torres tries to have fun with sweets. Unfortunately, many of the whimsical desserts are too complicated for the average cook, but photos provide plenty of inspiration. In the opening chapter, Torres offers a glossary of ingredients and equipment, and a list of convenient substitutions. On the flip side, there are recipes you can make with your kids (brownies), some simple homespun treats (blueberry peasant tart) and some nice teatime goodies (fruit-filled 9C's muffins).
Bon Appetit
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688166076
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacques Torres is the Executive Pastry Chef at Le Cirque 2000. He was voted James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year and has received the coveted Meilleur Ouvrier de France, France's highest award for a pastry chef. He is also the Dean of Pastry Arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York City and the host of the National Public Television series Dessert Circus.

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Read an Excerpt

Raspberry or Mango Sauce

Yield: 11/4 cups 10.2 ounces; 285 grams

To make this sauce, it is best to use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. You will also need a fine-mesh sieve. Use ripe, flavorful fruit or your sauce will have no taste. Fruits that make especially good sauces are the berries and really colorful fruits like mango and papaya. Use this recipe as a guideline to create your own fruit sauce.

Prepared fresh fruit About 3 cups10.5 ounces300 grams Powdered sugarScant 1/2 cup1.8 ounces50 grams

*A few drops fresh lemon juice if using raspberries

Peel, core, seed, or pit the fruit as appropriate and chop into medium-size pieces. Puree the fruit until completely smooth. Add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, incorporating it well after each addition and making sure any lumps are dissolved. When using raspberries, add the lemon juice to prevent oxidation browning and to enhance the flavor. Watch the consistency and frequently taste for sweetness. The desired sauce is equally sweet and tangy, and smooth. You may not use all of the sugar, or you may need to add a little bit more. If too little sugar is added, the sauce will be runny and tart. To fix this, add more sugar. If too much sugar is added, the sauce will be overly thick, sweet, and it will taste starchy. To fix this, add more fruit puree. The sauce is the ideal consistency when it holds its shape when dribbled onto a plate.

Strain the sweetened puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. This will separate the pulp from the fruit puree and remove any small seeds. Stir the puree until completely smooth. It will keep in the refrigerator in a small airtight container or zippered-top plastic bag for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Copyright c 1999 by Team Torres LLC
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Yield: 30 scones

Tea is such a lovely tradition. I think I like it so much because it reminds me of the time in Provence when we have our cake and coffee after the siesta. The little sandwiches and cookies are so delicate. My friend Peter Marengi shared with me the wonderful experience of having tea at the Lanesborough in London. I was amazed by all of the silver serving utensils that accompanied our tea. Having tea was only slightly more fun than being in my room and ringing for the butler.

4 cups/18 ounces/500 grams bread flour
1-2/3 cups/9 ounces/250 grams cake flour
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon/1.6 ounces/40 grams baking powder
Generous 1/2 cup/4 ounces/120 grams granulated sugar
3-1/3 cups/27 ounces/750 grams heavy cream
3/4 cup/4 ounces/120 grams golden raisins
1 cup/3.5 ounces/100 grams blanched almonds, toasted and chopped
To finish the scones
1/4 cup/2 ounces/60 grams whole milk

Preheat the oven to 400¦F (204¦C).

Place the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and heavy cream in a medium-size mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer set on medium speed to mix the ingredients just until combined. This is also an easy dough to make by hand. Stir in the raisins and almonds. When fully incorporated and the dough holds together, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead gently for about 1 minute, just until the dough is smooth. If you overwork the dough, it will shrink during baking. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Use a 2 1/4-inch fluted clutter to cut circles from the dough. Cut the circles close together to avoid waste. When all of the circles have been cut from the dough, push the scraps back together. Gently reroll them into a 1/2 inch-thick piece. Cut as many circles from this piece as possible. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. Place the circles on parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Use the pastry brush to brush some milk over the tops of the scones. This will give them a nice golden color. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the scones are well risen and evenly golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Traditionally scones are served with clotted cream and jam. I think they are good with just about anything.

Recipes from Dessert Circus At Home; copyright (C) 1999 by Team Torres LLC. Reprinted with permission from William Morrow and Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2000

    Fantastic & Fun!

    Give great ideas for home entertaining as well as 'fancier' treats for you child's parties.

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