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Desserts (1 of 6 in the Hamlyn Quick Cook Series)

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This cookbook was reviewed by Ruth of Makey-Cakey.

This is the first of a six part review series – yep you read that correctly! Imagine my excitement when instead of the one cookbook I was expecting to be sent for review, I discovered I’d been sent all six titles in the Hamlyn Quick Cook series. It certainly made the trip to the delivery office to collect them worthwhile, and explained why they wouldn’t fit through the letter box.

First up is Desserts, but before I get to the recipes, I’d better explain the concept behind the series. The tag line on the front of each book is “Every dish, three ways – you choose! 30 minutes | 20 minutes | 10 minutes” For each recipe there are three options, depending on how much time you have available. They all capture the same concept or flavours, and make use of different ingredients, cooking techniques and short-cuts depending on which you choose. I found it a very well thought out concept – I’ve seen cookbooks before with 10, 20 and 30 minute recipes, but none presenting the same dish three ways.

So back Desserts. This book is absolutely jam packed with recipes – 360 to be precise – quite an achievement for a small format, 270 page book, with a full colour photograph for each trio of recipes! I found it great to flick through and the pictures make it a great source of inspiration too.

We all got into the book reviewing spirit – here’s Mini-M starting young! I did the cooking, Mr E did the timing, since I thought it was only fair I tested the time claims, and we all participated wholeheartedly in the eating.

To begin with I made the first recipe in the book – Tropical Fruit and Basil Ice Cream (p24). It’s a 10 minute recipe, and it was in bowls and on the table with 53 seconds to spare, which I’m secretly rather proud of. It was absolutely delicious, and so easy. I have to confess I switched the mascarpone for coconut cream to make it dairy free, but I can imagine the ‘proper’ version would be fantastic. The basil added a subtle background flavour that wasn’t overpowering but complemented the tropical fruit flavours really well. My dessert was a little softer than the picture in the book, because of the coconut cream, but still a wonderful ice cream trick to have up your sleeve in 10 minutes.

Next up, I went for Baked Red Fruit and Hazelnut Meringues – a 20 minute recipe (p270). Since fresh strawberries and raspberries are rather pricey in Scotland at this time of year, I used frozen and it was delicious. Mainly due to my little kitchen chaos pixie running around my feet, this one came in one minute late at 21 minutes, but it was worth it!

Lastly, I opted for another 20 minute recipe: Chocolate and Prune Refrigerator Bars (p122). These were delicious, easy, and ready in bang on 20 minutes. It’s kind of a grown up chocolate biscuit slice, and a lovely way to finish off a meal.

Based on the three recipes I’ve cooked so far, this book is brilliant! It may look like any other quick cook or dessert compendium, but what sets it apart in my opinion is the imaginative recipes, and the fact that the 10 and 20 minute recipes are not pale imitations of their 30 minute counterparts, but great desserts in their own right – in fact sometimes they’re the main feature of each trio too. Of course it’s also easy to use, flexible, colourful, compact and practical, and very good value for money at £7.99, or just over 2p per recipe if you think about it that way. A brilliant resource for anyone with a sweet tooth.

There’s a whole host of recipes I want to try, including Vanilla Oven-Roasted Plums (20 minutes), Upside Down Mandarin and Chocolate Cake (30 minutes), Banana and Chilli Chocolate Chimichangas (20 minutes), and Banana and Irish Cream Trifles (10 minutes), so it looks like it’s going to be a sweet summer in our house.

The other books in the series are Family Meals, Pasta, Low Fat, Vegetarian, Budget, and the next review instalment will be Family Meals.

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