Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

224 × 168 × 27 mm
272 pages
110 illustrations, 100 in colour
13 Aug 2018

Dessert A Tale of Happy Endings Jeri Quinzio

Whether it’s a homemade strawberry shortcake in summer or a chef’s complex medley of sweets, dessert is the perfect ending to a meal. Most of us, even those who seldom indulge, have a favourite dessert. After all, sweet is one of the basic tastes and we seem to be hard-wired to like it. Yet while everyone has a taste for sweetness, not every culture enjoys a dessert course at the end of the meal. And desserts as we know them – the light sponge cakes, the ice creams, the steamed plum puddings – are neither as old nor as ubiquitous as many of us believe.

Jeri Quinzio traces the history of desserts and the way they, and the course itself, have evolved over time. The story begins before dessert was a separate course – when sweets and savouries were mixed on the table – and concludes in the present, when homely desserts are enjoying a revival, and as molecular gastronomists are creating desserts an alchemist would envy. An indulgent read, for all those with a curious mind and a sweet tooth.

‘Pierrette Brillat-Savarin’s last words were, apparently, “Bring on the dessert. I think I am about to die”. Although the sister of the great gastronome Jean-Anthelme does not figure in the delectable, handsomely illustrated Dessert: A Tale of Happy Endings, readers who habitually choose their last course first will identify with her sense of priorities . . . the book is packed like tutti-frutti ice-cream with nuggets of deliciousness.’ — TLS

Dessert: A Tale of Happy Endings is not merely a compendium of cakes but a chronicle of a different world, one in which desserts were savoured not only with the tongue but with the eyes’ — The Australian

‘Sweet – and beautifully illustrated.’ — Bee Wilson, @KitchenBee

‘Who could fail to want to look inside a book whose cover is so beguiling and title so tempting? Open this book and you will not be disappointed – the layout is attractive, the font size and spacing make for easy reading and the illustrations are clear and apposite . . . Quinzio's description of the dessert's development and the myriad of factors which lead it from mere sweetmeat to the huge variety of sweet endings that we know today is fascinating stuff . . . There is a wealth of information here, written in easily digestible and lucid form, adding greatly to my appreciation of those "happy endings" that I enjoy so much.’ — Petits Propos Culinaires

‘This lavishly illustrated history of the delights of dessert will have the sweettoothed hungering for “buttery lemon tart”, ice cream, tiramisù, “ethereal sponge cakes, light and airy profiteroles”, Pavlov . . . And why not? If you can’t enjoy a proper pudding in the festive season, when can you? Don’t worry. In January bookstore shelves will be groaning with slimming manuals. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet. ’ — Saga Magazine

‘Reading this book is a bit like eating dessert. You know you should stop, but you can’t help one more bite, turning one more page. Because, as Quinzio makes clear, dessert is not a mere trifle. It is a measure of skill, status, and style.’ — CHoWLine

Dessert is a perfectly delightful romp through the history of puddings and cakes and caudles, everything from syllabubs to strawberry ice cream. Bring a big spoon.’ — Ken Albala

Show all

Jeri Quinzio is the author of Pudding (Reaktion, 2012) and Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making (2009), which won the 2010 ICAP Culinary History award. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Introduction: The Lovely Indulgence of Dessert

1 Our Ancient Eating Habits
2 Eating with Our Eyes
3 Delights from the Dairy
4 The Prose and Poetry of Dessert
5 Developing Desserts
6 The Constancy of Change

Photo Acknowledgements