Am I a Dessert Person now? Short answer, no. Long answer, maybe eventually? Claire Saffitz’ Dessert Person is a tome of delicious looking recipes that one woman can’t get through in a month, and what I managed to try has soured me to the harder parts of dessert making such as pies. I’ve had more failures than successes, many of which are more than likely my fault. I am not a dessert person, and I haven’t ventured beyond cookies or basic cheesecake in a premade crust in my whole life.
So I admit that my failings in trying to cook from this cookbook are all my own. Claire’s instructions and diagrams are all super detailed, but I know it will take many many tries for me to get to the point that I can turn out something of a quality that I can be proud of. I’ve never made a pie until November, much less made my own crust. Never made a tart, never made sable cookies, never so much as sneezed at a custard.
I came at this cookbook looking for challenges in things that I was unfamiliar with, and I was met with those challenges. So, for me, this cookbook provided exactly what I was looking for when I ordered it. It’s also a look into what internet favorite Claire Saffitz actually wants to cook, not just what internet goblins got Conde Nast to force her to do in the Bon App test kitchen. I love that the Saint Louis Gooey Butter Cake appears. I love that her book has a section for savory baking too.
The ratings that I have provided are all somewhat weighted against my personal experience versus what I believe an average at home baker will experience. As I mentioned, I personally hunted down challenge in the book. That doesn’t mean that’s all that there is. I really do believe that anyone could pick up this book and find a recipe that they will fall in love with and cook for months.
Accessibility - 4 out of 5
The way the book is written makes it very accessible to the reader. Equipment may be an issue depending on where you are in your ‘culinary journey’, but there are recipes that can be done without a stand mixer or special size bakeware. Ingredient availability is most often not a problem since they can be found in the traditional grocery store. A few recipes have niche ingredients, but availability won’t stop you from cooking
Difficulty - 3 out of 5
If you get cocky like I did, you might pick recipes that are beyond your skill set and will take a few tries. Don’t be discouraged. There are recipes for every level cook in the game, and Claire’s got that lovely chart of difficulty for you to refer to when you’re asking yourself what you want to start with first.
Originality - 4 out of 5
I don’t buy many cookbooks centered around dessert because I have never considered myself a dessert person, so it’s possible I’m biased. There are classic recipes here, and there are some game changers. Dessert Person is a book I would recommend to actual dessert people with little hesitation, as they’ll all find something new to love. Claire Saffitz is a pioneer in modern food media, and she’s done a lot to move the industry forward. Her recipes are just the same. I truly won’t make a different pumpkin pie filling than her caramelized honey pumpkin pie for many, many years to come.