Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review of "Desserts 4 Today"

This is my very first cookbook review and I couldn't be more excited. Pastry chef, cookbook author and Fine Cooking Magazine contributing editor, Abby Dodge (short for Abigail Johnson Dodge) wrote another wonderful cookbook called Desserts 4 Today. This gem of a cookbook is filled with recipes that require only FOUR ingredients. Yes, I said 4! The instructions are very well-written and each recipe has a section with very helpful suggestions for Switch-Ins and Gussy It Up, giving you numerous flavor combinations and recommendations. A lot of recipes are accompanied by beautiful full-color photos. The recipes alone will make you want to bake every single item, but those beautiful pictures sure help a lot, should you need extra convincing :o) This book is a true gem and, in my opinion, another winner by Abby Dodge. Whether you're a novice baker or an experienced baker, you'll love the variety of recipes this book has to offer. And, at an affordable price of only $17.95 (or even less if you buy it on Amazon), this book deserves nothing less than a spot in your bookshelf (or your friend's) :o)

I learned about Abby Dodge almost two years ago when I got her book, The Weekend Baker, from the library. I baked several things from it and loved every one of them. You can find her recipe for super easy chocolate pudding HERE. Anyway, I contacted Abby through her website to let her know how much I enjoyed her recipes and she was very gracious. Earlier this summer I asked her if she was working on any new books, and she told me about Desserts 4 Today. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I made it to her "reviewers" list for her new book. Needless to say I felt very honored.

Although it was very hard to pick what to bake first, I ended up making 2 chocolate recipes: Nutella Fudge Brownies and Flourless Chocolate Mousse Bites (the latter is flourless and thus gluten-free). Both are loaded with chocolate flavor and have a great moist texture. I took both treats to work, to my husband's dismay (!), where they were very well received.

Both bite-sized treats are a perfect addition to any dessert table, especially if you're looking for easy and quick items to add to your New Year's party dessert menu. Just a thought :o)

Let's bake!

Nutella Fudge Brownies
adapted from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge
(reprinted with permission from publisher and author)

1/2 cup Nutella spread (I used a nut-less spread)
1 large egg
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (I used almonds)

  • Heat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners. I used a silicone square mini brownie pan instead.
  • Put the Nutella and egg in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended. I added half of the nuts to the batter.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (about 3/4 full) and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.
  • Bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11 to 12 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Switch-ins: in place of the hazelnuts, switch in one of the following: 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (add with the flour), or 1/4 cup chopped peanuts.

Flourless Chocolate Mousse Bites (gluten-free)
from Desserts 4 Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge
(reprinted with permission from publisher and author)

2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, separated and divided

  • Heat the oven to 325F. Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  • Put the chocolate and butter in a medium, heatproof bowl and heat in a microwave or over simmering water until melted. Whisk until smooth and blended. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and whisk until blended. Set aside.
  • Put 1 egg white (discard or freeze the remaining egg white) in a small bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites hold soft peaks. Continue beating while gradually adding the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Beat until medium-firm, glossy peaks form.
  • Add the 2 egg yolks to the chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold the beaten white into the chocolate mixture until well blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.
  • Bake until the bites are puffed and a pick comes out with wet crumbs, about 14 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • Switch-ins: in place of the granulated sugar, switch in the following: 3 Tbsp brown sugar.
  • Gussy It Up: add one or more of the following to the butter-chocolate mixture: 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts, 1 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger, 2 Tbsp finely chopped dried cherries, 2 Tbsp toffee bits.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Desserts 4 Today from the publisher, The Taunton Press. All opinions expressed in this blog post are mine.


  1. Ils sont délicieux ces brownies! Happy christmas ma dear Hanâa! Caroline B.

  2. I wanted that book too! It sounds like a great cookbook(: I'll have to buy it on amazon.

  3. I been hearing good thing about this cookbook... mmm me thinks a trip to my local B&N is in the horizon to check it out.. and maybe buy it... jury still out...

  4. @Caroline: ces brownies sont tres facile et delicieux! Merci pour votre visite, et Bon Annee mon amie! :o)

    @Danielle: the book is really good. You can really turn out an easy and elegant dessert in no time!

    @Monica: do check it out. For more experienced bakers, you can take a recipe that calls for store bought pie crust, for instance, and use your own homemade pie crust instead.

  5. you officially make me want to add this book to my cookbook collection... the bakes that you made looks fab!

  6. Great review Hanaa.

    The recipes sound so doable.

  7. It sounds like I might need to add this book to my collection as well. I've baked some from her other book Weekend Baker, and those recipes have been great.

  8. sounds great...nice review..
    mouth watering recipes..

  9. Excellent job on your first book review, Hanaa! Just when I think I have all the cookbooks I need, I learn about another interesting sounding one. Both desserts you made look fabulous! Hope you had a great Christmas and are enjoying the last few days of 2010.

  10. Only four ingredients? What a great idea to simplify recipes! Thanks for sharing your opinion, and these treats.

  11. This really does sound like the perfect book and I swear it has nothing to do with the Nutella brownies. Well, maybe a little. Seriously, four ingredient baking? The world needs more cookbooks like this. Great review!


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