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

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

by Jacques Torres, Kris Kruid, Christina Wright, Christina Wright (With), Kris Kruid (With)

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


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.

Editorial Reviews

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, barnesandnoble.com

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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HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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8.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.05(d)

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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

What People are Saying About This

Jacques Torres
From a barnesandnoble.com e-nnouncement

As the executive pastry chef at Le Cirque 2000, Jacques Torres has been delighting dessert fans for years with classic dishes like Ratatouille Turnovers and Chocolate Decadence, among many, many others. And as one of the world's best-known pastry chefs, Torres has received numerous acclaimed cooking awards, including the coveted Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France's highest award for a pastry chef) in addition to being honored as the James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year. Now, in his new book DESSERT CIRCUS AT HOME, Torres shares 100 new recipes that can easily be made in your own kitchen. Read what Jacques Torres has to say about preparing dessert at home as he offers up one his favorite recipes from DESSERT CIRCUS AT HOME.

A Tasty Tribute by Jacques Torres

DESSERT CIRCUS AT HOME is my tribute to all of the home cooks I've met in America. I am continually amazed by the number of people who bake at home, the volumes of church- or organization-oriented recipe books, and the way people share their favorites. I love going to my sister-in-law's house and seeing all of the goodies she baked lined up on her counter.

In this new book, I've tried to explain how and why ingredients interact, when and why the order is important, and how to tailor a favorite recipe so it turns out just the way you want it. I've added lots of shortcuts and tips professionals use to make things easier. The book contains information on equipment and ingredients and offers sources for things that might be on your wish list. You probably have most of the necessary ingredients in your cupboard. This book is really for the person who loves to bake at home, regardless of experience level. All the recipes are easy and many of them will seem familiar to you.

One of the questions I get asked the most is "What's your favorite dessert?" It's a tough question for me because I love everything sweet. I like desserts that have a lot of contrast -- hot/cold, soft/crunchy, sweet/tangy. I think about contrast when I try to develop recipes or give traditional recipes a new twist. I get instant feedback from the live audience at the restaurant where I work, Le Cirque 2000. The kitchen is open to the dining room and customers are encouraged to visit. I never know who I will meet! If you are in the restaurant, be sure to come back and say hello.

Here's a recipe for a dish we make at home. Be sure to use a good quality vanilla ice cream and be heavy-handed with the nutmeg!

Kris's Apple Crisp Yield: Up to 8 people (one 8-inch casserole)

--10 MacIntosh apples

--3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

--1/2 cup granulated sugar

--1/2 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar

--1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

--pinch of ground cinnamon

--pinch of salt

--pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

--pecans or walnuts, chopped

--apple cider (optional)

--vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C). Use a sharp paring knife or apple peeler to peel the apples. Slice them in half and remove the cores, then slice the apple halves into thick segments. Kris likes to use thinner slices and I prefer chunks. Set aside.

Combine the flour, sugars, butter, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the blended ingredients. The finished mixture should be crumbly and you will be able to see small chunks of butter. Mix in the chopped nuts. Do this after you work in the butter so you won't have to crunch through the nuts.

Lightly spray an 8-inch casserole or soufflé dish with vegetable cooking spray. Fill the dish about half full with the apples. Add about half of the apple cider and cover with a generous portion of the flour mixture. Top with the remaining apples and cider. The apples should mound over the top of the dish because they will shrink as they bake. Cover with the remaining flour mixture. Place in the oven and bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake until the topping is a dark golden brown and appears dry, about an additional 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon into small bowls. I always serve it warm with vanilla ice cream so the ice cream melts into the apple crisp.

We usually make a double batch. You can freeze the baked apple crisp well wrapped in plastic wrap. When ready, allow it to thaw. If I am going to reheat the whole dish, I do it in the oven at 350 F (176 C) for 20 to 30 minutes. Otherwise, spoon it into small bowls and reheat each bowl in the microwave on high power for 60 to 90 seconds.

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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