The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern

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9780375504297: The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern

Using fresh, seasonal ingredients captured at the peak of their flavor, Claudia Fleming creates highly satisfying desserts without pretention. She smartly matches contrasting textures, flavors, and temperatures to achieve a perfect end result–something brittle and crunchy next to something satiny and smooth, stretching the definition of sweet and savory while retaining an elemental simplicity.

The desserts in The Last Course speak to everyone, as to the 175 easy-to-use recipes. The book is broken down seasonally by fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and flowers, spices, sweet essences, dairy, and chocolate. The final chapter is made up of composed deserts. Claudia gives suggestions on how to combine recipes from previous chapters to create the ultimate desserts of the restaurant.

Each chapter and each composed dessert is paired with a selection of wines recommended by Gramercy Tavern’s sommelier. Recipes include: Warm Raspberry Verbena Meringue Cake, Blueberry Graham Cracker Tarts, Apple Tarte Tatin, Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Sauternes Gelee, Warm Chocolate Ganache Cakes, and more.

Beautifully illustrated, with more than eighty-five full-color photos, The Last Course is the last word on dessert.

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Review:

"First and foremost, everything I make has to taste absolutely delicious," says Claudia Fleming in her introduction to The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. Words to live by, especially when you're the pastry chef at one of New York City's most popular restaurants. Fleming cleverly describes and explains her creations in intelligent introductions to every recipe. She easily justifies her unusual flavor combinations, such as Roasted Apricots with Chamomile and Lavender-Lemon Pound Cake, and carefully walks us through important steps like gently cooking the strawberries and rose wine for her Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Rosé Gelée.

Recipes are divided by their star ingredient, and read like a farmers' market shopping list: apples, pears, and quinces; figs, melons, and grapes; herbs and flowers; cheese, milk, and cream. "Composed Desserts" make up the last chapter, and each is paired with a dessert wine. While every one of Fleming's recipes produces a delectable dessert on its own, the combinations she proposes in this chapter are truly memorable. A lighthearted composition like Waffles with Maple-Glazed Bananas and Maple Flan brings a favorite breakfast treat into the dining room for dessert. It's creamy and sweet, crispy and warm, cold and tangy--all at the same time. A number of Fleming's signature desserts are here, too: Coconut Tapioca with Coconut Sorbet, Passion Fruit-Pineapple Sorbet, Passion Fruit Caramel, and Cilantro Syrup (a Gramercy favorite). There are also plenty of recipes for the cookie jar, including the wonderfully soft and chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies, elegant enough to serve with coffee for dessert. Treats like Milk Chocolate Malted Ice Cream, Mascarpone Cream Cannoli, and Lime-Gingersnap Parfait will have you singing Fleming's praises as loudly as her fans do at Gramercy Tavern. --Leora Y. Bloom

About the Author:

Claudia Fleming is the pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern in New York City. She is the recipient of the 2000 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Her work has been celebrated in publications such as The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Vogue, and Time.

Melissa Clark is a regular contributor to The New York Times, among other publications. She is the author of eleven cookbooks.

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