An Interview with Faith Durand

Faith Durand

We recently chatted with Faith Durand. Durand, the executive editor of the Kitchn, is not only a blogger extraordinaire (over 11,000 posted), but the author of a recent cookbook, Bakeless Sweets: Pudding, Panna Cotta, Fluff, Icebox Cake, and More No-Bake Desserts. She discussed the motivation and purpose behind the cookbook, as well as the difference between writing a blog and a cookbook.

(And she's also offering three copies to EYB members - just post a comment below by June 7 describing your favorite no-bake dessert. Make sure you are signed-in so we can contact you.) 

"When I tell people I just wrote a cookbook with 150 recipes for pudding and other no-bake desserts (B), their eyes go wide. "What did you DO with all that pudding?" they exclaim. Then come the consoling noises about the prolonged sugar coma I must have endured. Yes, my refrigerator was consistently studded with bowls of pudding this past year (not to mention Deepest Chocolate Mousse, and Salted Caramel Risotto, and Yogurt Pudding Squares with Raspberry, and Lemon Icebox Cake…), but far from this being a hardship, I felt like the luckiest cookbook developer in the world. Pudding is one of the great desserts, and it deserved its own book. 

Pudding, to me, is one of the most deeply luxurious desserts, made to be slowly licked off a spoon, swirls of butterscotch or coconut cream pudding in a pretty bowl. I grew up with homemade custards and chocolate pudding, and as I fell in love with cooking, I found some of my favorite authors shared a nostalgic love for this homey, often British-inspired dessert. Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking  frequently celebrate the simplest pleasures, like the slow-cooked lemon rice pudding made of just four ingredients, or the deeply awesome coffee fluff  - a blend of coffee jelly and whipped cream. She introduced me to Jane Grigson, whose honeycombed lemon jelly beats Jell-O to a pulp with its fresh lemon sweetness. Trifles, custards, jellies, no-bake cookies and the homey American icebox cake - these are all the desserts that are special and delicious (a strawberry icebox cake recipe at The Kitchn has been viewed over a million times; people love these!). 

It's very rare to find a space in the cookbook world that is not comfortably covered a dozen times over by other authors. But the cookbook that celebrated the art of pudding and other no-bake desserts was nowhere to be found. I couldn't believe my luck; these are the desserts I love the most, and that bring the most pleasure when I make them, so the opportunity to write this book, Bakeless Sweets, felt like the biggest treat in the world. It's different from nearly every dessert book out there right now, and while I adore my well-read shelf of baking books, I wanted this pudding book to stand beside it. 

Writing a book, however, is very different from writing for the web - which is what I do every day. In my day job, as executive editor of The Kitchn, I write and edit for home cooks (over the past 6 years I've written over 11,000 blog posts). The feedback loop is immediate: I can have an idea, write it up, and hear from a reader five minutes later that it really could use some improvement!

Cookbooks have a different cycle, obviously. The website is a work in progress; it's easy to change and update as time goes by, and we're always working to make our recipes, tips, and cooking lessons even better. With a book, however, eventually you get to a point where it's all set firmly and irrevocably in ink on paper. But I love the way that readers talk back to us about our recipes at The Kitchn, and bring their own stories into the mix. I wanted that for this book, even in a small way, so I asked some food writer friends to share their own stories about puddings and some tips for their favorite no-bake desserts. Dorie Greenspan told me what she loves most about creme brûlée; Monica Bhide describes what makes a really good kheer; Nancie McDermott instructed me in the classic Southern banana puddin'. I felt I drew a little of the blog world into the book, with many voices adding their experience. 

And of course every cookbook, in some way, offers many voices, each recipe rising up out of many kitchens. The butterscotch pudding in Bakeless Sweets, while tested and tweaked in my own kitchen, is very close to the butterscotch pudding, thick and creamy, that has been delighting people for hundreds of years. I'm just the latest voice in the chain of cooks, and I hope that more carry on with their bowls of pudding, their tiramisu, their summery panna cotta, because of Bakeless Sweets and the voices inside."

As mentioned above, we have three copies of Bakeless Sweets to give away - just post a comment below by June 7 describing your favorite bakeless dessert.  Make sure you are signed-in so we can contact you if you win.

This contest is now closed.  Using a random number generator, our lucky winners are ellabee, dbielick and rivergait.


Bakeless Sweets 

33 Comments

  • ellabee  on  5/29/2013 at 3:50 PM

    By a mile, my favorite no-bake dessert is tortoni. We visited Italy when I was four, and when we were home again my mother made it a few times for special occasions. O. M. G. wonderful. Looking through the EYB library, I see lots of variations, but the original is almond flavors (topped with toasted almonds).

  • Linda S.  on  5/29/2013 at 4:11 PM

    Spanish cream (spelled creme in the Fannie Farmer cookbook); it separates into two layers, one very pudding-like, one foamy.

  • Potterhill  on  5/29/2013 at 5:58 PM

    My favourite cooktop dessert is basmati rice pudding. It's a recipe I got from the Loblaws What's For Supper Club years ago. When I make it I double the recipe and enjoy for breakfast. Love it warm with sliced strawberries.

  • Grywhp  on  5/29/2013 at 6:58 PM

    Simple, creamy panna cotta. So many flavor possibilities!

  • Carla  on  5/29/2013 at 8:15 PM

    In the South we love all kinds of unbanked goodies. I am a big fan of Faith...so looking forward to getting the book!!

  • Amy Bolger  on  5/29/2013 at 9:38 PM

    My hands down favorite bakeless recipe is Coconut Sticky Rice Pudding with Mango. I love to make it with black (or forbidden) rice and coconut milk, then top it with a sauce made from more coconut milk and chopped up mangoes. Sometimes I add sesame seeds or puffed noodles on top for crunch, too. How could something so yummy and complex - texture, deep purple color, sweet, nutty - be relatively good for you, too?

  • Lisa  on  5/29/2013 at 9:50 PM

    I love chocolate éclairs!

  • madamepince  on  5/29/2013 at 10:16 PM

    Rozann Gold's Chocolate Aspic!

  • Fuzzy Chef  on  5/29/2013 at 10:54 PM

    Lemon icebox cake: lemon curd, whip cream, and famous wafers, stacked and chilled for 6 hours.

  • sheri  on  5/29/2013 at 11:00 PM

    PannaCotta !! Ciao bella!

  • elysek  on  5/29/2013 at 11:29 PM

    I love homemade ice cream!

  • rosyannposy  on  5/30/2013 at 1:16 AM

    My favorite no bake dessert is a cake my mum used to make for our childhood birthdays. Whipped cream sandwiched between chocolate wafers. So easy and tasty.

  • Julie  on  5/30/2013 at 4:52 AM

    Homemade ice cream...though pudding has been on my "to make" list for quite awhile now!

  • SilverSage  on  5/30/2013 at 5:38 AM

    It's so retro I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but my favorite no-bake dessert is French Silk Pie. It's one of the few things my mother made that didn't come from a box.

  • kalex426  on  5/30/2013 at 6:18 AM

    Gosh, so many choices but never go wrong with a bowl of ice cream :)

  • dbielick  on  5/30/2013 at 6:38 AM

    Homemade ice cream

  • vickster  on  5/30/2013 at 8:06 AM

    Strawberry Delight from the Betty Crocker Cookbook - an old-timey favorite. (Strawberries, gelatin, whipped cream)

  • Jeanf  on  5/30/2013 at 9:04 AM

    Love crumbled homemade toffee on top of homemade icecream. Or pretzels dipped into caramel and then into chocolate.

  • kimtrev  on  5/30/2013 at 11:55 AM

    So many great bakeless desserts, but my favorite is chocolate mousse.

  • Natasha  on  5/30/2013 at 2:26 PM

    I think my favorite no-bake dessert is the avocado pie my mother in law gave me the recipe for. So tasty, so easy and so nice on a hot day!

  • merstar  on  5/30/2013 at 6:01 PM

    My favorite is dark chocolate mousse.

  • nadiam1000  on  5/31/2013 at 6:37 AM

    My mom used to make this no bake pineapple dessert that was so rich and creamy and refreshing at the same time.

  • napier  on  6/1/2013 at 2:01 AM

    Boysenberry ice cream because of the twinkle it brings to my dad's eye (and, of course, I don't mind a scoop or two either!).

  • dmihic  on  6/2/2013 at 5:35 PM

    Where do I begin? no bake cheesecakes, ice cream, crepe anything, mousses. I probably would have a different answer every week.

  • trudys_person  on  6/3/2013 at 5:40 PM

    My favourite no bake desserts are jellies. The obsession started with Jell-O as a kid, but now I like all fruit-based gelled desserts.

  • chawkins  on  6/3/2013 at 9:51 PM

    Home made mango ice cream.

  • judithq  on  6/4/2013 at 1:10 PM

    Definitely rice pudding...but we would love to try recipes in this desert book.

  • rivergait  on  6/6/2013 at 11:23 AM

    From-scratch tapioca pudding, served cold with a few berries on top. When I made it one Christmas morning, every one of my 5 daughters said, "You can make that yourself?", as in, besides a Jell-O cup hanging in the deli rack. I obviously didn't make it when they were kids LOL.

  • GillB  on  6/7/2013 at 4:04 PM

    Lemon ice-cream cake

  • CulinaryTravels  on  6/7/2013 at 4:25 PM

    It's got to be honeycomb ice cream, oh yum.

  • Jacqueline  on  6/7/2013 at 9:11 PM

    Panna cotta - I make it dairy free with soy milk and matcha. Love puddings as well. Looking forward to this book!

  • Jane  on  6/8/2013 at 9:14 AM

    Using a random number generator, our lucky winners are ellabee, dbielick and rivergait. As soon as we have your addresses, the books will be flying towards you.

  • ellabee  on  6/8/2013 at 1:21 PM

    Squeeeeeeeeee! Haven't won anything in a long time. Thanks.

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