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Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills: Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever
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Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills: Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever

3.0 1
by Wolfgang Puck

Spago’s pastry chef to the stars and author of the James Beard Award-winning Secrets of Baking shares the recipes that propelled her to the top of her profession

Night after night at Spago in Beverly Hills, Sherry Yard dazzles the powerful, rich, and famous with incredible desserts. Her marvelous confections have won over patrons from Madonna to Frank


Spago’s pastry chef to the stars and author of the James Beard Award-winning Secrets of Baking shares the recipes that propelled her to the top of her profession

Night after night at Spago in Beverly Hills, Sherry Yard dazzles the powerful, rich, and famous with incredible desserts. Her marvelous confections have won over patrons from Madonna to Frank Sinatra. Now the country’s premier pastry chef reveals the recipes that have made her a star in her own right and won her two coveted James Beard Awards.

Desserts by the Yard begins with inspirations from Yard’s childhood, such as My Favorite White Birthday Cake with Chocolate and Butter Fudge Frosting, and culminates in the spectacular creations she makes every year for the Academy Awards. Included here are some of Yard’s most famous recipes: the slinky crcme brulée she perfected when she worked at New York’s Rainbow Room, the coffeecake that made Campton Place Hotel San Francisco’s most popular breakfast spot, and the souffléed crcme fraîche pancakes with strawberry sauce she learned in Vienna. Don’t miss the chocolate caramel tart that Hugh Grant loves, former President Clinton’s favorite oatmeal raisin cookies, or the treat that made actress Suzanne Pleshette exclaim, “Bitch! You’re gonna make me fat!”

Desserts don’t get easier than Yard’s No-Bake Cheesecake, more decadent than Chocolate Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Gelato, or more holiday-perfect than Triple Silken Pumpkin Pie. In sidebars to each recipe, Yard shares tricks and techniques along with hilarious anecdotes that show her pluck, determination, and generosity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Brooklyn-born Yard worked her way up to reign as Hollywood and Beverly Hills queen of sweet. Executive pastry chef of Puck's Spago empire, she annually creates 1,700 or so perfect desserts for the Governors Ball following the Oscars, such as mousse-filled chocolate boxes on power-painted red carpets the year Julia Roberts won for Erin Brockovich. But Yard hasn't forgotten the rapturous tastes of her childhood; along with celeb-studded, look-at-me tales of her lofty successes, she offers tender memories and recipes for such favorites as Italian bakery Rainbow Cookies. Yard actually delivers what every cookbook promises: news for the professional and foolproof secrets for the avid amateur. From her finger-stirred sugar-water-corn syrup caramel to her assembly-line masterpieces, every ingredient is necessary and every direction makes sense. Fruit desserts, her special passion, transport the reader to Eden. Comprehensive, well-organized and meaningfully illustrated, Yard's book may be the new dessert bible. Color photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Award-winning executive pastry chef Yard (The Secrets of Baking) chronicles her success and the recipes she developed as she worked her way from New York to Wolfgang Puck's celebrated restaurants in California, stopping in London and Vienna in between. Influenced by the sweets of her childhood (e.g., Girl Scout cookies), the desserts of Vienna (e.g., Sacher torte), and local farmers' market produce, Yard's 120 original and classic (with a twist) recipes cover an array of delectable cakes, pies, cookies, and frozen desserts. Among the standouts are Chocolate Macaroons with Black Currant Tea Ice Cream and Raspberries and Banana Crème Brûlée Pie. Instructions are easy to follow, and sidebars offer secrets for success. A decadent dessert book sure to inspire home cooks and professionals alike; highly recommended. (Color photos and index not seen.)
—Pauline Baughman

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.93(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.16(d)

Read an Excerpt

Brooklyn Inspirations I grew up out in the far reaches of Brooklyn, in a wonderful neighborhood called Gerritsen Beach, near Sheepshead Bay. We lived catty-corner to my grandma’s house, where my mom had grown up. My dad, a Brooklyn firefighter, grew up in the same neighborhood. It was a safe place to be, a spit of quiet blocks bounded on two sides by Plum Beach Channel, which flowed into Raritan Bay, and on the other by the Brooklyn peninsula. Gaggles of kids played and ran around like street rats, unsupervised, moving freely in and out of the unlocked houses of friends and relatives. We knew the first and last names of everyone in every family. Communication between parents and kids was through the screens of open windows, not cell phones. Even when we were little, we were allowed to cross the quiet street by ourselves, but if we wanted to cross busy Gerritsen Avenue, where Victoria’s Pizzeria and Genal’s Toy Store were, we had to shout for an adult. Our house was a two-story clapboard that sat on two lots. On the second lot, my dad built a deck and put in an above-ground pool that was the envy of the neighborhood. I shared a bedroom, and a birthday, with my older sister, Terry, and eventually we shared the same bedroom with two more sisters, Laurie and Lynne.
As in most of the Irish families on our block, meat was the focal point of our meals, and my father ruled the grill. My mom did not like to cook, and our vegetables always came out of a can. But we did sit down to a family dinner every night at a table where manners were of the utmost importance.
When we were little, if we were good, we got to help set the table. Putting out the salt and pepper shakers was what I liked to do best, until I became old enough to prepare my parents’ after-dinner Chock Full o’Nuts instant coffee. This was the moment I lived for each night. I memorized how each of them liked their coffee (my first recipe!), and, using a special red measure, I carefully measured one and a half spoonfuls for Dad, 1 spoon for Mom. I crushed the instant powder with the back of the spoon (my own special technique), before pouring in the boiling water and then put cream in Dad’s cup but left Mom’s black.
If there is any foreshadowing of my destiny as a pastry chef, the coffee ritual was it. I have almost no memory of homemade desserts — since my mother didn’t bake. We rarely even had dessert, other than store-bought cookies. On special occasions, we were treated to cookies from Leon’s Bakery and birthday cakes from Leon’s or from the faraway Ebinger’s Bakery, in another Brooklyn neighborhood. We loved to go to our local Carvel’s for ice cream, where we ate chocolate-dipped cones, and on special occasions pistachio floats and wet walnut sundaes. On summer evenings, the only thing that could get us out of the swimming pool was the sound of Mr. Minkie’s Good Humor cart, with its bells clanging or the promise of a lemon ice (page 000) from Victoria’s Pizzeria. I remember the sweets from my childhood so vividly that today I re-create many of them in grown-up versions, like the rainbow cookies that always go out on my Spago cookie plate.
When I was four and my sister six, we got a Susie Homemaker oven for our birthday. It was a miniature oven, equipped with baking trays and a book of recipes, that actually worked. You would be wrong to assume that this marvelous toy marked the beginning of my career. Because I was the younger sister, I was relegated to the task of assistant (call that dishwasher). My older sister was in charge, and because Terry loved peanut butter, everything she chose to bake had a secret ingredient — peanut butter. I was certainly a frustrated baker at an early age, though not a baker. However, I always did like mixing things up. In fact, by the time I was eight, I was begging my parents not for a Barbie doll, but for a Sears chemistry set for Christmas When I look back on all the jobs I had as a teenager in Brooklyn, I can see that my professional training began long before I knew what I was being trained for. In high school, I worked part-time as a dental assistant. I was trained on the spot to use dental tools; to be spotlessly clean and organized; and to do things in a precise way. Dr. Landesman’s office was a quiet place, where I had to concentrate at all times. On my days off, I sold hamburgers at McDonald’s. The manager said they looked for not-too-tall girls with pretty smiles, and apparently I fit the bill. McDonald’s was the polar opposite of the dentist’s office — loud, bustling, and filled with people of all nationalities, not just the Irish and Italians I grew up with. And yet the same degree of importance was placed on precision and on systems, from making French < fries to tying up a garbage bag. I loved to draw in high school (indeed, I demonstrated a larcenous taaaalent for making fake bus passes that loooked so authenttic that they were accepted), and my teachers said that I should apply for an art scholarship. I had my heart set on fashion school, but my mother was not one to have a “starving artist” in the family. She wanted me to have a skill that would assure some kind of employment, and she made sure I took secretarial classes like steno and Dictaphone, along with Typing I and II.
After high school, I got a job as a receptionist in the grants department of Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. After five years, I had become a research grants associate, with my own office (baby blue with a royal blue swivel chair) and a hefty salary. I might have stayed at the medical center, not particularly happy in that world, but unwilling to give up a good job, had a car not barreled into me one day when I was driving home from work. I landed in the hospital for a month, in traction, which provided me with a lot of time for reflection.
While I’d been drifting along in my workaday world, I realized that I had developed a burning passion — a love of baking. I regularly sent cookies along with our grant applications awaiting signatures. I was forever fiddling around with recipes. By the time I got out of traction, I decided to resign my position. For the first time in my life, I had a plan. And thanks to a fat settlement check from the insurance agency, I had the means to carry it out. I enrolled in New York City Technical College, at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn side.

Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Custard Cones Makes 8 cones

On the boardwalk in Atlantic City, we ate frozen custard cones dipped in chocolate. I used to love to watch the ice cream man dip the cones, one after another. Frozen custard looks like soft serve ice cream, but it has more body. Made with egg yolks, milk and a small amount of cream, this one has a dense, rich taste and a satiny texture.

2 cups milk 1/2 cup heavy cream 4 large egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 to 3 tablespoons honey (to taste), preferably a mild honey like clover 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate dip 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl halfway with ice, add a little water, and nestle a medium bowl inside the ice. Place a xx-quart container in the freezer.
2. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the milk and honey. Place the pan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer; do not boil.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in

Meet the Author

Wolfganf Puck, the celebrated chef-owner of Spago, is at the vanguard of American cuisine. Born in Austria, he trained in France's finest restaurants before coming to the Uninted States in 1973. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills: Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have Sherry Yard's book The Secrets of Baking, and I LOVE IT! It is an amazing book. So, I was very excited about getting Desserts By The Yard, but it certainly doesn't live up to Secrets. Deserts By The Yard is a collection of recipes. It is not written in the educational and informative way that Secrets is. It is somewhat of a memoir, and the recipes are arranged in the chronology of her life, which is not particularly useful for the average home cook. There are some great recipes, but The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard is a far better buy.