Settling In With “Ready for Dessert”

I’ve been enjoying the h*ll out of the David Lebovitz’s “Ready for Dessert” book — or what he affectionately refers to as his “greatest hits”. First, there were the best chocolate chip cookies in the world (wait, is it bad form for me to say that about cookies I baked myself?):

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts
The real stars of the show

I took half the batch and left them with the front desk at the gym I go to (you know, to try to work off all those chocolate chip cookies I’m eating) and got some very enthusiastic thank-you’s as I was leaving, which says more about David’s recipe than it does about my baking, really. It’s tough to impress people with a chocolate chip cookie anymore (there are so many!), but Lebovitz’s recipe is truly outstanding and made me seem far more accomplished with an oven and a mixer than I really am.

I tackled his Fresh Ginger Cake next, which he claims is one of his most popular recipes and a personal favorite of his own, and I can see why — moist, spicy, sugary and with a bit of a peppery bite:

Fresh Ginger Cake
Cake with a kick

Fresh from the oven, the sugary crust is toasted and crunchy over an incredibly moist interior, but leave it under plastic wrap all night and the whole thing goes into moistness superdrive. I served it with freshly whipped cream flavored with vanilla, mildly sweetened with rice syrup and finished off with a couple of grinds of black pepper.

Ingredients: stone ground organic white flour, organic cake flour, pure sugarcane molasses, organic rapadura sugar, organic sunflower oil, fresh ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground black pepper, water, organic baking soda and free-range eggs.

And today, I decided to give the Pistachio-Cardamom Cake a whirl:

Pistachio-Cardamom Cake
A little slice of India in New Zealand

I didn’t have the proper round pan that the recipe called for (all my round pans have false bottoms, and I need to do something about that), but the square pan worked just fine, and even lent the cake a more casual “coffee-cake” vibe than it otherwise would have possessed. The almond topping baked into the presentation is a truly nice touch, and the whole thing was a lot easier to pull off than it might look.

And the flavor! Pistachio nuts, almonds, cardamom seeds . . . It makes me wonder why I haven’t been grinding up cardamom and adding it to *all* my cakes and cookies.

Ingredients: butter, organic rapadura sugar, sliced almonds, roasted pistachios, organic stone-ground white flour, organic cake flour, ground cardamom seeds, free range eggs, organic baking powder and smoked salt.

And don’t forget — there’s still a couple of days left to let me know if you’re interested in participating in the “Ready for Dessert” book giveaway. I like the book so much that I’m giving away three copies so a few of you can try out David’s recipes for yourself. Besides, when I run across a cookbook this consistently good, I feel compelled to share.

To participate, just leave a comment in the comment section with your name, where you’re from and your favorite Lebovitz recipe (or the recipe you’d most like to call your personal favorite, if given half the chance).

I’m picking the winners this weekend and the books will be shipped out via Amazon.

Good luck!