Sweet (Yotam Ottolenghi) – A cookbook review

Choosing which cookbooks to buy is hard, so sometimes you need to simplify the decision for yourself. So after seeing Yotam Ottolenghi in several episodes of Masterchef Australia, I decided his latest cookbooks would be on my wishlist.

Why? Well: There’s cookbooks written by bloggers, who are great at telling stories and making photos. You might buy the book because you like their blog. There’s cookbooks written by famous chefs, who’ve written a cookbook, because they’re a famous chef. You’d probably buy their book because you know the person. (I don’t have any cookbooks from chefs (anymore, that is) since I don’t tend to use them). And then there’s cookbooks that you buy because you like the vision and way of thinking of the author. That’s what happened when putting ‘Sweet’ by Yotam Ottolenghi on my wishlist, I really liked his way of thinking about food.

Sweet

Sweet is the most recent addition (2017) to Yotam Ottolenghi’s repertoire of cookbooks, he has several already (which I do not have, yet). As the name says, the book covers sweet recipes, plenty of them. The authors (yes, there’s two authors, Yotam Ottolenghi co-authored the book with Helen Goh) mention they considered calling the book ‘Sugar’, since they used plenty of sugar to make all these sweet recipes. Nevertheless, they stuck with ‘sweet’ in the end.

Their vision on sugar

What I, as a food scientist, like is the way the authors think about sugar and ‘free from’ foods. They’re well aware that eating 3 pies a day is not good for you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat any pie any more. Eat with consideration, know what you’re eating and enjoy. It’s better to really enjoy a slice of something ‘less healthy’ than not at all enjoying something ‘healthy’ (which most likely will make you eat something else later in the day).

I like their common sense thinking there and it also shows in their recipes. They makes recipes the way they think they taste best and if that makes a recipe gluten-free or nut-free, that’s fine, but it’s not the goal. This is honest cooking.

sweet - pistachio raspberry white chocolate roll
Example of the inside of the book, beautiful photo

Chapters

There are a lot of nice and original variations on existing themes organized in chapters. There’s a chapter on cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, confectionery snacks and more. I feel that all the types of sweets I’d like to make are covered in the book.

The different chapters are also some sort of a necessity, it makes it easier to find the type of recipe you’re looking for, since there’s no table of contents at the start of the book. It makes you browse through the book though. Which isn’t a crime since the photos and overall lay-out are beautiful, although I would have preferred a handy table of contents.

It seems that this book will keep me busy for a while and will teach me a few new skills (which is one of the main reasons to buy a cookbook isn’t it?).

Recipes

There are over a 100 recipes and a lot of them are very original. They aren’t your basic brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Instead, the recipes are a mix of Meditarrenean, English and various other cuisines. This is probably what makes the recipes so original. When going through the book the first time I already managed to tag over 10 recipes that I wanted to make (see all the white post it’s in the book at the top of this page…). They recipes have beautiful photos which make them even more appealing to make.

At first sight the recipes looked quite complex. However, since the book is so well written, the recipes are actually very do-able. The instructions are very clear and due to the clean lay-out it very easy to go through all the steps one by one without losing track of what has to be done. There are several less common ingredients in the recipes, however, you can either find them online or substitute them with something else.

Pistachio, raspberry, white chocolate roll

So far (1 week after I got the book) I made one recipe from the book: a pistachio, raspberry, white chocolate roll. It’s a thin cake from pistachios and made airy through egg whites which is rolled up with a rich white chocolate cream in between and raspberry spread throughout. Even though these rolls tend to be quite fiddly, it worked out perfect! The instructions were very clear, and while making it, I realized that it was actually quite simple to do.

raspberry pistachio white chocolate roll
The end result, yum yum!

Overall opinion

This is definitely one of my new favorite cookbooks. The recipes are original, have amazingly good flavour combinations, are very doable (although I wouldn’t say it’s a book for beginners) and just work out great. Apart from that, his philosophy, beauty of the photos and overall lay-out and structure are simply very good. If you like baking and making sweet things, this truly is an addition for your cookbook shelf!

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