For a thin volume, this cookbook gives you a huge amount of creativity. It’s divided by season, with an Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie for Autumn and an Orange Sponge Custard for Spring. Most of the recipes come with beautiful photos and range from the everyday (Chocolate Brownies) to the unusual (Brioche Pizza) to the nostalgic (Peach, Nectarine & Plum Cobbler with Spoon Biscuits) to the elegant (Chardonnay Poached Pear Tascido with Goat Cheese). One of the best parts, though, is the preface, where you learn more about Alain Roby and his adventures on the way to becoming a pastry chef.
Alain Roby’s American Classics, Casual and Elegant Desserts, is the world of a renowned pastry chef who somehow makes you feel like you can bring his recipes to life in your home kitchen. And, thanks to his explicit and encouraging style of instruction, you can.
Each recipe, while recognizable, somehow elevates even a simple dessert to a work of art. He builds in versatility, too; for example, the Orange Nut Bread, made with whole pecans, chopped dates, and orange zest can stand alone as a breakfast bread, or dress it up with sliced strawberries, freshly whipped cream, and a few strands of candied orange peel and you have something special.
But, I’m warning you, avoid the temptation to skip right to the beautiful recipes and read the background story first. I won’t spoil it here, but you’ll learn about the advice he received from his father . . . his military service . . . his stint as pastry chef to the Shah of Iran . . . and how he defines American comfort food.
Roby spent 24 years working for the Hyatt Regency Chicago, most recently as the Senior Corporate Pastry Chef for Hyatt Hotels. He has now opened Chef Alain Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, IL. The Kitchen was opened using 1,500 pounds of Barry Callebaut Chocolate to craft a stove, putter sink and high-end cabinetry—all out of chocolate. Visitors can visit, reserve their own chocolate tastings, and more.
The cookbook has several chocolate selections of its own, like Chocolate Mashed Potato Cake, Key Lime Pie with a Chocolate Cookie Crust, and Chocolate Pudding in a Chocolate Flower Pot. There’s also Chunky Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Mousse Truffle with Sea Salt and Olive Oil, Chocolate Salami, and Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake.
A portion of all proceeds from the cookbook, by the way, benefit the Saving Tiny Hearts Society. It’s an organization Roby connected with when he and his wife, Esther, found their son had a congenital heart defect.
Unfortunately, the cookbook is currently sold out. Hopefully it will be reprinted soon.
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