Dessert University : More Than 300 Spectacular Recipes and Essential Lessons from White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier
As Executive Pastry Chef at the White House for almost twenty-five years, Roland Mesnier has been responsible for creating thousands of elegant, delicious confections and dazzling desserts for hundreds of state dinners and family occasions. An accomplished teacher as well as a master chef, he now shares his expertise with home cooks in Dessert University.
This beautifully illustrated volume is a complete course in making the full spectrum of spectacular sweets -- from breakfast pastries, cookies, and pies to fresh-fruit desserts, frozen confections, and cakes. Recipes in each chapter are organized from the simplest to the most complex, and Chef Mesnier walks you through each step, pointing out common mistakes and offering insights on technique gained from his years as a professional. Most of these recipes need few special ingredients and almost no fancy equipment; nearly everything can be purchased at a well-stocked supermarket, department store, or kitchen supply store. Chef Mesnier includes tips on techniques, ingredients, and serving suggestions, and offers home cooks practical advice, such as how to fill and use a pastry bag and the best way to whip egg whites. A resource list is also included, so cooks can find the more unusual ingredients they need to make these delectable creations.
Mesnier starts off with his fresh-fruit desserts, including uniquely wonderful recipes such as Bananas in Raspberry Cream, Blueberry Fool, and Poached Peaches with Chestnut Mousse. He moves on to creamy custards, puddings, souffles, mousses and Bavarians, ice creams, meringues, crepes, and breakfast treats (including buttery brioche and croissant doughs). Chef Mesnier's cookie and bar recipes will fill your cookie jar with such treats as Chocolate Chip Cookies, Almond Crescents, Orange Butter Cookies, Brownies, and Florentine Squares. There are sweet and savory tarts, and cakes ranging from the simple (Lemon Pound Cake) to the unusual (Peanut Butter and Jelly Roulade Cake) to the sophisticated (Chocolate Champagne Mousse Cake). Ambitious home cooks can even try their hand at making chocolate candy and sugar decorations. A chapter on syrups, sauces, and other dessert components completes the book.
More than fifty black-and-white line drawings throughout illustrate Chef Mesnier's instructions for the more complicated recipes, and there are sixteen stunning color photographs of finished desserts.
Home cooks and professionals spend hundreds of dollars in formal cooking classes to learn what masters like Roland Mesnier have to teach. In Dessert University, Chef Mesnier has distilled the experience and expertise of an extraordinary career into one accessible, user-friendly volume. Whether you're a novice who has never picked up a rolling pin or an accomplished cook looking to hone and enhance your skills, this is truly a book you cannot do without.
Thanks to Mesnier's tremendous dessert reference, everyday home cooks can now whip up the very sweets the author has been serving to the First Family and White House visitors for the past 25 years. French-born Mesnier, who was hired by Rosalyn Carter in 1979, is honorary president of the World Cup of Pastry, but his culinary know-how stretches far beyond the intricacies of croissants and brioche. After all, he's been working in America and serving international heads of state for a quarter century, so he's well versed in classics like Cheesecake, Baked Alaska, Brownies, All-American Apple Pie, Oatmeal Cookies and Rum Raisin Ice Cream. His cookbook isn't to be taken lightly, however; there aren't a ton of speed-saving shortcuts, nor are there revised, easier versions of detailed dishes. That said, the recipes, for the most part, call for basic supermarket ingredients, with the occasional trip to the greenmarket for fresh fruit. (In fact, Mesnier is a huge fan of fruit desserts, and he offers a wide variety of options for low-calorie sweets that don't sacrifice flavor for calories, like Mango Tropico Souffle.) With advice on techniques and short but revealing asides on Mesnier's interesting career, the book is at once an indispensable guide to preparing desserts and fascinating armchair reading.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Simon & Schuster
August 08, 2004
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Excerpt from Dessert University by Roland Mesnier
INTRODUCTION Devoted to DessertEver since I was a boy growing up in the very small town of Bonnay in France, I have had a deep admiration for fine pastry and a curiosity about how it is made. On my way to school each morning, I would pass the local bakery, where I would peek in and see the red-hot coals of the oven. I would inhale the aroma of fresh yeast and baking bread as I walked to my classes. My family had an account at the bakery, and it was my job to bring home a loaf for lunch every day. In addition to bread, this bakery made beautiful croissants, and one day I found them irresistible. I requested one and ate it on my way home. When my mother got the bill at the end of the month, she was shocked. Money was tight, and croissants were not in the budget. But she forgave me eventually. As it turns out, sampling croissants on my way home was as much a part of my education as the lessons I learned in school.At the age of twelve I took a summer job at a nearby pastry shop where my older brother was already well established. At fourteen I began a more formal apprenticeship that lasted for three years. From there it was a long and exciting journey to the kitchen of the White House, where I served as Executive Pastry Chef for twenty-five years. In all that time, my desire to learn and to improve my skills has not diminished. I have also become a teacher myself, passing on the lessons I have learned to a new generation of pastry chefs training in the United States.This book is the result of those years of studying, working, and teaching. I am happy and proud to share the techniques and recipes that I have refined during the course of my career. Making wonderful desserts and serving them to kings, queens, presidents, and statesmen was a source of joy and satisfaction for me. I hope that you will derive just as much pleasure, and feel the same sense of accomplishment when you serve dessert to family and friends.MY EDUCATION IN PASTRYFrom my very early days as a kitchen apprentice, I devoted myself entirely to learning everything I could about making desserts. My first teacher was my older brother Jean, who let me hang around and help out in his pastry shop to see if I would like the work. A formal apprenticeship in a larger town followed. The hours were long, my master was stern, and the salary was next to nothing, but at the end of three years I felt only the urge to travel the world and understand more about this fascinating art.If I had not been truly committed to becoming a chef, I would have been discouraged by the hard life of a pastry assistant. My next job, at a very fine shop in Hanover, Germany, paid so little that I barely had enough money to cover my rent and the cost of getting to work. I had about 25 cents a day budgeted for food. On my way home at night I would stop and play the slot machine at a coffee shop. If I won, I would buy dinner. If I lost, I'd eat the apple that I had taken from the kitchen. For a year I fantasized about the cold cuts on display in the window of a delicatessen nearby. When I received a small bonus at the end of my time at the shop, my first thought was, "Watch out, Cold Meat Platter, here I come!" But I left with extreme gratitude toward the chef because he was the one who really taught me the foundations of good pastry. It was by his side that I learned how to bake all kinds of basic cakes and cookies. Here, also, I learned how to work with chocolate to make a variety of classic candies and glossy decorations.I moved to Hamburg next, to a family-owned pastry shop and tearoom famous for its marzipan. At Christmastime the shop looked like a fabulous fairyland, decorated with every kind of marzipan figurine imaginable. I loved working with marzipan, copying the traditional pieces and experimenting with new shapes. The shop became like home to me, so it was with great sadness that I forced myself to leave. But I knew that there was more to