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Pure Dessert: True Flavors, Inspiring Ingredients, and Simple Recipes by Alice Medrich

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Notes about this book

  • Eat Your Books

    See Susie's review of this cookbook in her round-up of the best 2007 cookbooks at NPR Kitchen Window

    See Seattle Tall Poppy's review of this cookbook and the Seattle launch party for the book.

    See Lisa is Cooking's review and her take on Fleur de sel caramels, Honey caramels, Bittersweet citrus tart with jasmine cream and Sesame seed cake from this book.

  • ellabee on November 19, 2015

    The book's appealing concept is accurately expressed by the subtitle. It's also a near-perfect cookbook from the physical and formatting p.o.v.: compact and manageable, one recipe to a page, beautifully photographed result near at hand. Easy-to-locate and legible chapter tables of contents with page numbers. Good index (less important for EYB members, but still). Would make an excellent gift to cooks at almost any level of experience. One complaint: The worthwhile two- and three-page Medrich essays that dot each chapter are made less accessible in two ways: 1 - not indexed in either main or chapter ToCs, 2 - laid out with chocolate brown type on a darkish, greyed lavender background. That color scheme is evocative and delicious used elsewhere in the book for smallish notes. Applying it to more than a dozen solid pages of text in all shows a distressing lack of empathy with readers (and does no favor to the author, either).

  • LVautier on September 18, 2010

    Alice Medrich has become one of my favorite authors despite the fact that chocolate just isn't my favorite dessert ingredient to work with. I think that life is better with dessert or some sort of baked treat. But I find most sweet baking too sweet. I think of sugar as being like a seasoning, too much of it and it overwhelms flavors instead of supporting them. Medrich has provided me with a couple of standby make quickly treats that my husband I just love.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Sour cream ice cream

    • caitmcg on June 15, 2015

      Very simple to make, and wonderful with summer berries or stone fruits, or fruit sauce.

  • Kamut pound cake

    • Astrid5555 on February 12, 2013

      One of the best poundcakes I have baked. The Kamut flour really makes this one special.

  • Wheat and chocolate pound cake

    • PatriciaScarpin on April 14, 2011

      This cake is delicious! Actually, all the pound cakes by Alice Medrich are amazing.

  • Golden kamut shortbread

    • e_ballad on June 12, 2017

      The texture was spot-on, but the flavour lacked that buttery sweetness of preferred shortbread recipes.

  • Chestnut pound cake

    • TrishaCP on June 21, 2013

      The rum and walnuts of the cake accentuate the chestnut flour beautifully. Lots of butter and eggs, so not for anyone calorie counting,

    • PatriciaScarpin on April 13, 2011

      One of the best cakes I have ever made. Absolutely delicious (I've made this cake 5-6 times already).

  • Plum and almond tart

    • Astrid5555 on September 24, 2017

      Excellent effort to outcome ratio, can be made in the food processor. Great almond flavor with nice little fruit pockets from the plums. Again, done much earlier than the recipe states (30 minutes) despite using my light tart pan.

    • caitmcg on June 15, 2015

      A variation on the Rustic Plum Tart, with a flat almond crust that's easy to make and pairs beautifully with purple plums.

  • Sesame seed cake

    • Astrid5555 on November 02, 2012

      If you like sesame this is THE cake to bake. Exotic looking black sesame seeds give this cake a nice little crunch which is a great contrast to the velvet texture of the cake.

  • Olive oil and sherry pound cake

    • caitmcg on June 15, 2015

      A wonderful cake with a tight, moist crumb. Use a nice, fruity olive oil as its flavor and that of the sherry come through in the cake. Keeps very well.

  • Whole wheat sablés

    • jzanger on February 19, 2012

      I made these last night. They're my go-to shortbread cookie (I use half AP and half WW pastry flour), but instead of the cacao nib variation that I usually do I added 1 1/2 Tbsp of jasmine green tea. I ground all but about 1 tsp of it in a spice grinder and added it with the butter and sugar along with the zest of an orange. I sliced the cookies a little thinner than usual and made them into sandwich cookies using a jammy homemade pear butter. I was very happy with these and will definitely make them again!

  • Nibby buckwheat butter cookies

    • eliza on December 10, 2015

      These cookies are easy to make, not too sweet, and were liked by everyone. I like the addition of buckwheat flour here, and I found them difficult to stop eating! The unbaked dough can be held in the fridge for a few days if necessary. I made these as a Christmas cookie this year since we like to have a variety of more rustic looking cookies. Made by hand since I don't have a stand mixer.

  • Rustic plum tart

    • PatriciaScarpin on June 03, 2011

      A breeze to make (no chilling of the dough, no blind baking) and absolutely delicious. Looks beautiful too!

    • LVautier on January 31, 2012

      This is a good recipe to practice because it works well with other fruits and after doing a few times it becomes something that you can put together in less time than it takes to heat the oven. It did take a bit of practice to be able to press out the dough evenly and thinly. From memory I think I had to moisten my hands to keep the dough from sticking to my hands. I might try sprinkling it with almond flour next time. I should note that my husband loves this VERY over baked - to the point that it is actually difficult to cut with a fork. The butter I was using ( lurpak) is higher in butter fat than american butter. When I accidentally over baked it the crust caramelized creating a flavor that he loved.

  • Cardamom-roasted figs

    • TrishaCP on September 29, 2013

      I really wanted to love this, but as written the recipe does not succeed. (Surprisingly, for a Medrich recipe.) I knew I wouldn't get the same fig flavor with the Brown Turkey figs I had on hand (and I was right). But the big issue for me is that the cardamom was too strong (and I love cardamom). The recipe calls for cracking the pods, extracting the seeds, and stuffing them in your figs. Well, when you do that, you end up chewing through cardamom seeds in every bite- and that cardamom flavor was just way too potent. I would make this again, but use whole pods and remove them before serving.

  • Lemon tart

    • LVautier on June 10, 2012

      I made this last minute and should have worn my glasses and read more carefully. As a result i had to make on-the-fly adjustments. I had already begun cooking the filling when I realized that there couldn't possibly be enough, as a result I had to begin doubling the recipe half way through the cooking process. I didn't measure, I just added lemon juice and then sugar until I felt that it tasted like the original mixture. I used a pie pan instead of a tart pan, and with the doubled recipe my filling was 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. If you are using a tart pan you might want to triple the recipe, it is easy to think up ways to use a bit of extra lemon curd. Despite the unexpected adjustments, I would definitely make this again, my husband loved it, very nice and tart.

  • Very tangy lime or lemon bars

    • LVautier on January 31, 2012

      These were the first lemon bars I made for my husband and I don't think I will try out other recipes on him. He loved the sweet/tart flavor of the lemon with the shortbread crust. I think he would find other recipes dull in comparison.

    • PatriciaScarpin on May 13, 2011

      I've made these and they are fabulous! The shortbread base is super easy to make (with melted butter). I mixed lime and lemon for the recipe and it tasted great.

    • tofudogg on August 21, 2017

      Awesome recipe. Very strong lemon flavor and shortbread stays crisp for days.

  • Italian chocolate-almond torte

    • caitmcg on June 15, 2015

      So simple to make, with such a sophisticated flavor. Definitely more of an "adult" dessert. Also flourless and gluten and dairy free, so a great choice for those with dietary restrictions.

    • TrishaCP on June 21, 2013

      An amazing rich flourless torte made by grinding unsweetened chocolate, sugar, and almonds together, bound with eggs whites. A perfect rich ending to a meal.

  • White chocolate soufflé cakes with fresh berries

    • Emily Hope on October 31, 2016

      These little cakes looked quite pretty but I thought the flavor was just okay--the souffle cake by itself is just sweet, without much complexity, though the fresh raspberries do help. Probably won't be repeating this. Made for I's birthday dinner.

  • Raspberry-chocolate chunk muffins

    • PatriciaScarpin on January 15, 2012

      I did not like this recipe much. The muffins turned out on the heavy side - as much as I like using whole wheat flour in my baked goods sometimes it did not work in this recipe.

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Reviews about this book

  • The Kitchn

    With its wide range of flavors, beautiful photographs, and deceptively simple recipes that produce astonishingly delicious results, this book is both practical as well as inspirational.

    Full review
  • Lottie and Doof

    I have a lot of cookbooks, but this book is the one that I am always excited to open. It is where I go first when I need something special. The recipes are so elegant and work so well.

    Full review

Reviews about Recipes in this Book

  • Golden kamut shortbread

    • Lottie and Doof

      Alice said it "adds a fragrant buttery flavor and lovely yellow color to baked goods"....enough to get me searching for this difficult-to-find relative of wheat. I tracked it down...so glad I did.

      Full review
  • Lebni tart

    • Lottie and Doof

      This tart is light and refreshing and would be the perfect ending to a meal. It has all of the tart creaminess of a cheesecake without the heaviness.

      Full review
  • ISBN 10 1579656854
  • ISBN 13 9781579656850
  • Published Sep 05 2007
  • Format eBook
  • Page Count 272
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Artisan Publishers
  • Imprint Artisan Publishers

Publishers Text

Alice Medrich reshapes the universe of sweets by focusing on fewer but finer ingredients and using them in fresh ways.


Always an experimenter, tinkerer, and thinker, the renowned baker and three-time Cookbook of the Year winner Alice Medrich expands the dessert-making vocabulary in Pure Dessert. Using an exciting array of delicate handmade cheeses, wholesome grains, and other ingredients (often ethnic) that are now widely available, she broadens our flavor palate even as she simplifies and demystifies baking techniques.


Grains such as buckwheat bring a lovely nutty quality to cookies and strawberry shortcake. Pound cake takes on a whole new identity with a touch of olive oil and sherry. Chestnut flour and walnuts virtually transform meringue. Varietal honeys and raw sugars infuse ice creams and sherbets with delectable new flavor.


The desserts that Medrich has devised are not only better-tasting and unusual, but - because they're not heavily sauced or sugared - they're more healthful as well. With eye-catching, full-color photographs that show how easy it is to make these 150 simple, straightforward recipes, Pure Dessert is a revelation.



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