By Joseluis Flores with Laura Zimmerman Maye
Photographs by Ben Fink
Rizzoli -- 2010
Buy it on Amazon
The cover photo of "Dulce" features churros with a dish of chocolate sauce alongside. Poised for a nibble, it's food porn at its very finest. But can you judge a book by its cover?
I have a love affair with cookbooks. "Dulce," despite its amazing collection of tempting recipes, stepped out on me. It tested my love and I don't know whether to give it another chance or break it off.
See what we tested and whether it's worth buying after the jump.
Quality of pictures: Looking at the photos is like being a kid in a candy store -- I wanted everything. The photographs are grouped together in the book rather than alongside recipes, so you have to work for them a little, but they're so seductive you can forgive them their flirty hide and seek.
What we tested: There was tremendous temptation involved in picking a recipes but turron (a.k.a. torrone) has always been close to my heart, so I decided to make the nougat candy with almonds and cashews. This is where the love got dicey.
The nougat process requires a boiling honeyed syrup to be beaten into soft-peak egg whites. Now, I'm not a fan of pouring a super hot syrup into a bowl while I'm beating with a hand mixer for obvious safety reasons, but the recipe wording distinctly suggested a stand mixer so I went for it in spite of my trepidation. My common sense, however, was already questioning whether a stand mixer would be able to beat a single egg white (that's not very much stuff in the bowl). I started by beating the white a little with a whisk to get some volume for the mixer to grab. While my syrup heated on the stove, I realized that the stand mixer was going to be my downfall, and a dangerous one. I panicked and checked the recipe again. That's when I discovered the duplicity: the procedure repeatedly refers to egg whites, plural, but the ingredient list calls for only one white. I had honey boiling on the stove, just hitting the desired temperature, and all I could taste was betrayal.
I got angry, but I soldiered on, now seeing all the flaws, like "beating at high speed until the meringue becomes nice and fluffy." Define nice -- does it offer to clean the dishes for me? And fluffy? It was a glossy goo, and only later did the recipe confess that it would be sticky. It was going to end badly.
I read some more of the book and found it frustrating; I didn't test another recipe. I wasn't willing to give it a second chance. When your trust is broken, love goes out the door.
Worth the investment: Trying a new cookbook is like a first date -- you only have one chance to make a first impression, and there was no chemistry for me.