Baklava to Tarte Tatin: A World Tour in 110 Dessert Recipes, written by Bernard Laurance, highlights a variety of desserts from Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. This cookbook comes just in time for the holiday baking season! Recipes range from the simple Craquants (Crunchy Drop Cookies), Shortbread, and Chocolate Chip Scones to the more difficult Rahat Lokum (Turkish Delight), Macaron, and Scofa (Caramel and Almond Meringue Cake). The easy-to-follow instructions and beautiful photography help demystify even the most advanced of the pastries and sweets. Following the review, I will also be sharing a recipe for his Peanut Butter Daifuku Mochi.
Disclosure and Disclaimer: I was given two copies of Baklava to Tarte Tatin by Rizzoli (Flammarion) in exchange for my review. All opinions stated here are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Take care when eating mochi, especially with young children and those with swallowing difficulties. It is incredibly chewy and can pose a choking risk.
Bernard Laurance is a food blogger and cooking show host based in France. He began working with recipes at the age of seven and now spends his time recreating his favorite dishes from around the world. He started his blog, La Cuisine de Bernard, five years ago as a way to share his passion for cooking and baking and is now one of the most popular bloggers in France. For English readers, Laurance started an English blog, Cooking with Bernard, in 2015.
Baklava to Tarte Tatin
Chapters are divided based on continent: Europe, The Americas, North Africa and the Middle East, and Asia and Oceania. Europe is the largest section with 55 recipes. The book was originally published in French under the name Les Desserts de Bernard: Mon tour du mode en plus de 110 recettes in 2014. It was translated into English by Carmella Abramowitz Moreau.
The European section has desserts from France (a large concentration of the recipes), Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, and Germany. The Americas include the United States, Canada, and Brazil. North Africa and the Middle East have desserts from Morocco, Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey, while Asia and Oceania feature Japan, India, Thailand, China, and Australia.
Every recipe has a headnote with background information, tips, and how Laurance came across it. Measurements are provided in US Customary and Metric. The title of each recipe is listed in English and its original language when available. Amelie Roche provides the beautiful photography and the styling is by Audrey Cosson. Step-by-step photos accompany some of the more difficult to assemble desserts. Full page photos of the finished product are included for almost all of the recipes.
Macaron lovers will enjoy the highly detailed section devoted to the special cookie. Laurance explains both the Italian and French meringue methods with the advice of using the Italian method if you are a novice. Even though it takes longer, it is a bit less finicky. Flavor options include pistachio, praline, vanilla ganache, orange flower ganache, salted butter caramel, coconut, raspberry, and lemon.
The focus of this book is 100% on desserts, so it is best for those with a sweet tooth or just have a love of baking. Recipes range from incredibly simple to more advanced. Some take less than an hour while others like the Spanish Turrón de Jijona (Jijona-Style Nougat) require five days to set. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average supermarket. Some (particularly in the Asian section) may require a trip further searching for items such as mochiko (sticky rice flour), orange blossom water, water chestnuts, lotus seeds, and cardamom pods. A few of the recipes will require specialty bakeware such as Canelé molds, Savarin pan, Bundt pan, candy thermometer, and mini muffin pan. If special equipment is required, it is generally listed at the beginning of the recipe.
Peanut Butter Daifuku Mochi
The Peanut Butter Daifuku Mochi recipe comes from the Asia and Oceania section. Mochi are little molded desserts made from mochigome (Japanese glutinous rice). I focused on the peanut butter filling (a favorite of mine from Fugetsu-Do), but Laurance also includes recipes for plain, adzuki bean, and sesame. The creamy and crunchy peanut butter filling is fully enclosed by a chewy rice flour dough for an addictive and delicious snack.
The rice flour, sugar, and water is first cooked in the microwave in 30 second intervals until malleable. While still hot, it is coated with potato starch and formed into small balls. Be very careful with this part. Coat your hands in potato starch well and move quickly to keep from burning your hands. Each ball is filled with a previously frozen ball of peanut butter. The mochi is formed around the peanut butter and gently rolled into a ball.
I used natural red food coloring from beets to dye the mochi pink. If using natural, you may need a little more than 4 drops.
Mochiko is a starchy, gluten-free flour made from sticky sweet rice. I have been able to find Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour in the international section of larger grocery stores and in Asian food markets with Japanese ingredients.
I also made Swiss Caramelized Cream and Sugar Tart (Tarte flambé à la crème et au sucre), Crunchy Almond and Coffee Drop Cookies (Craquants aux amandes et cafe), Brazilian Flan (Pudim de Leite), and Moroccan Coconut Balls.
The Swiss Caramelized Cream and Sugar Tart (Tarte flambé à la crème et au sucre) is one of the more simple recipes to make. A chilled pastry is thinly rolled into a circle and topped with a cream sugar topping. The tart is then baked at a very high temperature, 520 degrees F or as high as the oven will go, for just a few short minutes until the topping has caramelized. It is served in thin slices.
Laurance has a few variations of Craquants, Crunchy Drop Cookies, and I made the Crunchy Almond and Coffee Drop Cookies (Craquants aux amandes et cafe). He recommends serving them with sorbet or ice cream, so I broke the cookies over some vanilla gelato. It was perfect and I loved the crisp texture.
As far as flans go, this Brazilian Flan (Pudim de Leite) was definitely on the easier side. Condensed milk, eggs, and milk are pureed until smooth in a blender then poured over the prepared caramel before baking in a water bath until set. The directions were well written to help with the more tricky parts of getting the caramel right and how long to cook the flan. This dessert was Chad’s favorite. I did not originally have a dish available to make the Pudim de Leite, but found this glass ring pan on Amazon that worked perfectly: Libbey Glass Baking Dish.
The Moroccan Coconut Balls require a few steps, but the end result was well worth it. Egg-based cookies are sandwiched together with a thickened orange flower scented apricot jelly. More apricot jelly and orange blossom water are used as a coating for the sandwich cookies, then they are covered with shredded coconut. I absolutely loved the combination of flavors.
Peanut Butter Daifuku Mochi Recipe
Excerpt from Baklava to Tarte Tatin
Peanut Butter Daifuku Mochi
- 1 medium jar crunchy peanut butter refrigerated at least 12 hours
- 5 ounces (150 gram) sticky rice flour (Mochiko)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces/40 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (230 m) water
- 4 drops red food coloring
- Potato starch for rolling and dusting sifted
- Begin by preparing the peanut butter balls. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a melon scoop, scoop out 12 balls of peanut butter. If they are not nicely shaped, roll them lightly between your hands. Freeze for at least 2 hours, or until very firm.
- Place the rice flour, sugar, and water in a microwave safe bowl and mix until smooth. The batter will be quite loose. Incorporate the food coloring just before you cook the dough.
- Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring well after each time. Depending on your microwave, it should take between 3 to 4 minutes (but it's essential to work in 30-second bursts) for the batter to fill with air and swell and then deflate immediately. It will look a bit like chewing gum.
- Generously dust a work surface or large plate with potato starch sifted through a small sieve. Transfer the dough to the surface and sprinkle it with potato starch. You're going to be handling the dough while it is still hot and the potato starch protects your hands.
- Break off enough dough to make a ping-pong sized ball and use your other hand to insert the ball of frozen peanut butter in the center of the mochi dough through the tear at the point where you broke it off. Close up the mochi by joining the dough around the peanut butter, and ensure that it is sealed. Roll the ball between your palms, adding a little potato starch if necessary, to make a nice shape.
- Dust a baking sheet with potato starch and place the mochi on it. If there is too much potato starch on them, brush it off gently with a soft pastry brush. Flatten the balls slightly between the palms of your hands. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Serve the same day, or store in an airtight container, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, for an additional day.