Cookbook Review: Desserts by Michel Roux

by Deanna Dong
July 2012

Desserts by Michel Roux

Michel Roux

Difficulty Level:
Home Cook to Moderately Difficult.

Natural Sweetness:
When Roux cooks, he often has a pepper pot of fruits handy at all times, “frequently applying a few turns over melon, papaya, and even strawberries—effective and much healthier than adding sugar.”

Introduction; Fruit Desserts, Crèmes & Sabayons; Hot Soufflés & Puddings; Crepes, Batters & Beignets; Ice Creams, Sorbets & Granitas; Sponges & Meringues; Mousses, Parfaits & Bavarois; Tarts & Pastries; Cakes & Gateaux; Chocolates & Petits Fours; Basics.

There’s no debate that French-born Chef and Restaurateur Michel Roux is a talented and decorated professional of the highest degree. With his brother Albert, Roux opened the acclaimed Le Gavroche in London and has maintained three Michelin stars at The Waterside Inn in Bray, England, for the past 23 years.

Both restaurants are known for their meticulously prepared French fare, and Roux’s cookbook, Desserts, reflects both his classic training and eye for modernity. Per French pastry philosophy, Roux focuses heavily on fruits, which he believes should “play the starring role, with sugar, cream, and butter used in moderation.” Rather than create rich desserts based in pâte bombs or crème anglaise, Roux gently teases out the fruits’ flavors with simple techniques, herbs, and spices, allowing the natural acidity and brightness to shine through. For example, the Sweet-spiced Roasted Peaches only requires only a handful of ingredients (honey, star anise, peaches, lemon, nutmeg) and a few no-fuss steps (blanching, roasting, puréeing).

But don’t be misled into thinking that Desserts is only for the lactose-intolerant health-conscious diner with a vendetta against gluten. Chapters such as “Crèmes & Sabayons,” “Crepes, Batters & Beignets,” and “Cakes & Gateaux” offer up plenty of decadence. But even amongst these richer additions, fruits still dominate center stage. Meringues are stuffed with plums, soufflés are of the passion fruit and kiwi variety, and crumpets are topped with poached red currents. Accompanied with concise instructions and glossy photos (often visual step-by-steps), Roux’s Desserts will surely add elegance and fruit-focused flair to a pastry chef’s repertoire.