Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes by Richard Sax

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Notes about this book

  • Eat Your Books

    1995 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award Winner

  • Eat Your Books

    1995 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award Winner

  • ellabee on March 24, 2015

    Highy recommended for reliability and quality by chow posters. Found at low price March 2015. It's an inspiring, instructive, and enoyable book even if I never make one thing from it -- but there are already several recipes that strongly appeal. Minor nitpick: chapter ToCs don't have page numbers (am gradually rectifying w/a pencil). Also added a small 'frame' to the outer corners of each chapter opening page, which had nothing to distinguish them visually from any other page. Book was written during the decade before the internet (copyright 1994), which makes it an even more impressive accomplishment. IACP honored Sax's memory by naming an annual award to an anti-hunger program after him. Publication date is actually 1994; as noted above, book won IACP award in 1995.

  • Kiyah on August 07, 2010

    I dare you to look through this cookbook without fantasizing about the delectable desserts you could make from it. Even if you never make a thing, it's worth reading for the anecdotes. I highly recommend the Double Chocolate Pudding recipe and the All-Time-Best Summer Fruit Torte. My edition is also the 1996 printing.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Cranberry crumble with fall fruits

    • adrienneyoung on May 23, 2011

      this is amazing when served with whipped cream w/ candied ginger. If you don't have whipping cream, creme fraiche is also a great option.

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 29, 2019

      I used apples and omitted pears. I reduced cranberries to about 12 oz. This is a fantastic crumble. very good with vanilla ice cream.

  • Rhubarb-strawberry crisp with cinnamon-walnut topping

    • stockholm28 on May 17, 2015

      This was very good and simple. There are two things I think need adjusting. He calls for 1/4 cup of water mixed with the fruit. My strawberries yielded plenty of liquid during baking so I will leave that out next time. The fruit mix was also a bit sweeter than I like, so might cut back on the sugar when using really sweet strawberries. He also calls for 1 1/2 lbs of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces which he says is about 3 cups. I only had about 3/4 lb rhubarb (after trimming) and I still got 3 full cups. It is baked in an 8" pie pan, so 3 cups of rhubarb with a pint of strawberries was plenty.

  • Light cannoli cream for fresh fruit

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 29, 2019

      I served as a dip with graham crackers in lieu of fruit or cannoli shells. A nice light dessert, good for potlucks and holiday parties.

  • Oven-steamed figgy pudding

    • billcranecos on December 27, 2020

      I cooked this for Christmas 2020, so that just in case "2020" himself came caroling and sang he wouldn't go until he got some that I'd have some ready. This was delicious and I'll repeat it.

  • Gingerbread hermits

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 29, 2019

      Good instructions, esp. caution not to over-mix or over-bake. I left the 3rd batch a little longer in the oven. The first 2 batches were much better than the 3rd.

  • Tennessee moonshine cookies

    • jenmacgregor18 on December 11, 2019

      I subbed dark raisins for golden and used dried pineapple, not candied. It called for 1 t cloves. I thought that may be too medicinal/bitter, so I reduced cloves to 1/4 tsp and added 1/2 tsp of allspice. The dried fruit must soak in whisky for awhile. I left it overnight. Otherwise, easy to put together. I ended up with 6 dozen. The candied cherries turned the dough that cherry pink. I'm not the world's biggest fan of candied/maraschino cherries. (I might make these withe dried & sweetened tart cherries next time.) But they did turn out well. These are a lot of boozy fruit & nuts held together by a bit of batter. I may also do a bit of a whisky glaze/drizzle for the top.

  • Savannah lace Christmas cookies

    • ashallen on April 24, 2020

      These are confection-like cookies. Very sweet, wafer-thin, crisp edges, chewy centers. Chocolate works really well with candied orange peel and pecans. I used about half the chocolate specified to get more pecan/orange flavor. No salt in recipe - salted vs unsalted butter would be good to try next time. I'd also try a very flavorful brown sugar like muscovado. Definitely stick to a lightly heaped 1/2-teaspoon per cookie. These spread a lot and bigger ones damaged easily. Baked just 24 per standard cookie sheet - otherwise they spread into each other. Batter's easier to handle after chilling. Stored well overnight. Even with making some cookies too big, I got 110 vs. 96 specified. The 3 cookie sheets called for won't fit them all - you need to wash between batches. Cookies are fiddly to handle and weld solid to sheets if cooled too long but rumple/tear easily if too warm. Ignore instructions to cool 3 minutes. Instead hover, watching and poking, until just the right moment. Work fast!

  • Almond brittle cookies

    • ashallen on September 01, 2019

      Great bar cookies - really nice interplay of butteriness from the shortbread, tanginess from the jam (I used raspberry + brandy), creaminess from the caramel and crunch from the almonds. I lined the baking pan with buttered heavy-duty foil- this ended up being verrrry useful since the jam/caramel topping melded with the pan wherever the two touched. The pastry would have been harder to remove intact without the foil. The caramel in the almond topping still flowed easily even after thickening during stovetop cooking - this meant that it pooled more thickly wherever the dough had been rolled a bit more thinly. Once cut, the bars with the thicker caramel layers oozed a small amount down the sides - not enough to be a big messy problem, but something to keep in mind when rolling out the dough in the future. I cut my squares bigger than the 1-inch squares suggested in the recipe since I'd never eat these only 1 square inch at a time! Froze fine.

  • Carlo's cookie dough

    • ashallen on September 01, 2019

      Even though the recipe notes say that this dough's easy to handle, I was still happily surprised at how non-sticky and mold-able it was after resting overnight in the refrigerator. Once rolled out, it did soften quickly in my 74F kitchen and I had to move quickly to get a 11x16-inch dough sheet into a pan before it got too tender to lift easily. Orange flavor from the orange zest (I used 1.5 tbsp) is really nice. I baked some leftover scraps as little cookies - they were OK (again, nice orange flavor), but not special enough to make this dough specifically to make cookies. The dough served its intended purpose as a crust for the Almond Brittle Cookies in this book very well, however.

  • Grandma's poppy seed crescents (mohn moons)

    • ashallen on July 13, 2019

      These cookies are crisp, not very sweet, and very subtly flavored, reminding me a bit of biscotti. I used toasted hazelnut oil for the vegetable oil. I imagine the cookies would take well to a variety of other flavorings (almond extract, lemon extract, vanilla extract) and work well as tea/coffee dippers. The dough came together and rolled out easily. Note that there might be an error in the recipe version in the 1994 edition of this book - it calls for rolling out the dough 3/8-inch thick but I don't think you can get the recipe's stated yield of "~7 dozen crescents" at that thickness. I rolled the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, instead, which seemed to yield 2.5" crescent cookies at the expected rate.

  • Chef Andrea's breakfast polenta cake

    • ashallen on July 31, 2019

      This is a very nice gluten-free cake - good flavors and a lightly sandy texture from the cornmeal/potato starch/ground almonds. Finely ground whole grain cornmeal worked well - a coarser one might be too gritty. Like the title says, it's well-suited to breakfast - whole grains + not super-sweet. I baked it in a heavy, black 9-cup bundt pan and it was done in 30 minutes vs. 40 minutes as the recipe specified. The batter filled the pan only half-way, so the cake's smaller than a typical bundt cake.

  • Karyl's blueberry cornmeal loaf

    • LaPomme on May 25, 2011

      Made 6 jumbo muffins from this recipe. Baked at 350 for about 35 minutes. The result is a dense, moist, and slightly citrusty muffin.

    • Soveh on August 03, 2010

      Tasty, not particularly special. Dad likes it though.

  • John's brown sugar raspberry loaf

    • ashallen on September 12, 2019

      My father grew raspberries in his garden and there were often more than we knew what to do with (particularly by the latter part of the summer when we'd already had our fill - I know, I know, boo hoo hoo for us). This was a great quick bread type cake for using a bunch of them (2 cups). The raspberries were often fairly tart and this carried over into the bread - eating it with whipped cream balanced the tartness well.

  • Marie's rich gingerbread with candied ginger and lemon glaze

    • Soveh on August 03, 2010

      Yum, yum, yum! Made for Jon's birthday twice (with the John's mother's lemon sauce). Dark, rich, so good. Freezes well too.

  • "Bee-sting" cake (bienenstich)

    • mjes on May 03, 2018

      When the German couple retired, a favorite German lunch spot fell into Korean hands. They still kept most of the German menu and did it well. However, they dropped several baked goods from their menu. Bienenstich was one of those dropped. I found this recipe as a home substitute - not as good as that of the Woerners' but a decent substitute.

  • Lemon-molasses marble cake

    • Soveh on August 03, 2010

      Great cake! The marbled flavors are perfect together.

  • Applesauce-carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

    • sgump on November 29, 2015

      Made for Dad's 79th birthday--used a sprayed Bundt pan (out of which the cake effortlessly slid). Quite delicious. Used extra raisins, pecans, coconut, pineapple, applesauce, and carrots, so the cake didn't rise above the cake pan and was dense, moist, lovely. Delightful addition of lemon zest to the frosting; didn't use lemon extract, but that might have overdone it. Will likely make again.

  • Chocolate cloud cake

    • Soveh on August 03, 2010

      The quintessential fallen chocolate souffle cake.

  • Indiana orchard apple crumb pie

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 29, 2019

      D prefers a double crust. But I thought this was a wonderful apple pie.

  • Down-east cranberry apple pie

  • Deep-dish rhubarb-cherry-berry pie

    • billcranecos on January 01, 2021

      This was our New Years Eve pie for 2020. I would not have picked this, except a friend expressed an interest for (out of season) rhubarb. Even with frozen rhubarb and frozen cherries, this made for an excellent tangy and fruity pie that was enjoyed all around. I'll repeat this in the summer when I can get fresh rhubarb and fresh cherries.

  • Peanut butter pie with fudge topping

    • louie734 on March 21, 2014

      Made this EASY pie twice now - it is my husband's birthday "cake" of choice. It is spectacular. I decrease the sugar in the crust by 1 T, and the powdered sugar in the filling by 1/4 c for a better salty/sweet balance. I've made it with 1/3-less-fat cream cheese without a problem. It keeps well in the fridge too, without the crust getting soggy. I haven't tried it with old-fashioned peanut butter (LOVE Trader Joe's creamy salted), but even though the recipe specifies not to, I have an itch to find out why not.

  • Best-ever pumpkin pie

    • billcranecos on November 28, 2020

      I used a store bought deep dish crust, and the filling recipe makes more volume than the crust could hold. The finished texture was light with a great spiced pumpkin flavor.

  • John Thorne's best-ever pecan pie

    • Laurendmck on December 22, 2012

      p. 559. We love this recipe and make it every year for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 29, 2019

      This is our pecan pie. The cane syrup & rum make it the absolute best for us. And it doesn't seem as sweet as other recipes I've tried. This time I added 1 T white miso to the egg mixture. excellent.

  • Breakfast pear tarte tatin

    • ashallen on November 27, 2019

      Ooof - this didn't turn out well for me! It's kind of like a pineapple upside down cake with biscuit "cake" base and pear topping. I removed from oven as recipe specified after 25 minutes once top browned and tester emerged cleanly. Unfortunately there was a large blob of half-cooked dough in the center which I didn't discover until I cut into it. Scooped out and chucked that part. If it had baked it longer, top would've overbrowned and needed a foil cover. Pear juices/caramel bubbled up out of pan during baking (even though I used an 8" cast iron skillet) - recipe didn't warn about this. Pear topping was yummy, but I didn't care for the biscuit - too much baking soda flavor. Perhaps recipe's optimized for refrigerating dough overnight - I used it right after mixing. Cold dough would aggravate uneven-baking issue, though. I think this might need a lower baking temp than the 425F specified in recipe to cook evenly. I don't care for flavor combo enough to try it again, though!

  • "Mouthfuls" from abruzzo (bocconotti abbruzzesi)

    • ashallen on December 10, 2019

      Fun cookies/mini-pastries. Cookie-like crust filled with ground almonds flavored with cocoa powder, marsala, orange zest. Not very sweet - if you like bittersweet choc, you'll like these. First time making/eating them - wasn't sure they came out right, but co-worker said they're just like his grandmother's except bigger and orange vs. almond flavored! Would've rated 4 stars but for some issues with recipe as written. Recipe specifies mini-brioche/standard muffin tin - I made a couple mini-brioche but they're too big to eat comfortably! I used mini tart tins (1.5 inch bottom) instead. Tried with/without lids - preferred filling/crust balance without, though filling dried more and lost some marsala flavor. Pressed crust into tins vs. rolling - easier, dough oozed sticky sugar syrup after 18 hour chill. Recipe's a bit vague on proper filling texture - held back 1-2 tbsp wine but could've used all. Recipe says 1c almonds=6.5 oz - mine was 5.25 oz. Either's fine - easily tweaked to taste!

  • John's mother's lemon sauce with lemon slices

    • mcvl on September 01, 2015

      Handy little sauce, very nice. My grocery store had no small bottles of plain cider (! -- but I was shopping at 5pm, they run out of everything), so I bought ginger cider instead, very nice, would do it that way again for sure. Also used vanilla sugar instead of plain sugar.

  • Warm caramel sauce

    • ashallen on July 07, 2019

      Delicious! I cooked sugar to 375F for a strong caramel flavor. Smooth and glossy when warm, it thickened to a mayonnaise-like consistency when chilled. People wanted to eat it straight from the storage jar. What survived was great with both vanilla financiers and rice pudding.

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  • ISBN 10 0618003916
  • ISBN 13 9780618003914
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Jul 14 2000
  • Format Hardcover
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Houghton Mifflin
  • Imprint Houghton Mifflin (Trade)

Publishers Text

For this collection, unmatched in the field of dessert cookbooks, Richard Sax devoted more than a decade to searching out and perfecting 350 of the world's best and most beloved home desserts. Everything the cook longs for is here: cobblers and crisps, cakes and cookies, puddings and souffles, pies and pastries, ice creams and sauces. Extensive sidebars - profiles of cooks, engaging recollections of favorite desserts, quotations from hundreds of literary works and excerpts from fascinating old recipes - make this an indispensable, lively volume.

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