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Need a gift for a "serious" baker or pastry aficionado? Look nor further.

Over the last few months we’ve received some great, pastry-centric books here at DessertBuzz worldwide headquarters.  I thought I’d start with my favorite of the bunch–Plating For Gold: A Decade of Desserts from the World and National Pastry Team Championships by Tish Boyle, published by Wiley.

Strawberry and almond milk delight, red currant and wine jus

On first glance, you might think a book like this would only find an audience with professional pastry chefs or serious amateurs who aspire to some day attend pastry school.  That would be an incorrect assumption because this book, with its beautiful photographs shot on white backgrounds, can stand on its own as a coffee table book and also has many features geared towards the novice (more on that later).

I’ll admit, many of the winning desserts featured in the book, particularly those with sculptural elements do look quite daunting.  But some, like “Georgia” from the 2007 National Pastry Team Championship, seem like they would be just challenging enough to make you feel like you accomplished something without being so difficult that you end up cursing and swearing–not that I have ever experienced that kind of defeat from trying to follow a (recent macaron) recipe.

The book contains basic information that definitely reduces the intimidation factor, including a glossary, ingredient guides, explanations of the different types of plated desserts and tools and techniques.

Drawings for the layout of "Strawberry"

Accompanying each recipe, to provide some context, is an explanation as to why the pastry team chose  this particular dessert or why they believe it won the judges over that year.   Then, there’s a detailed recipe that provides measurements in three formats: grams, ounces and dry volume measurements (“1/3 cup + 2 table spoons”)–If I had a nickel for every time someone on a message board asked if anyone knew the conversion  for 200 grams of egg whites…

"Creole" from Team Ruskell (Richard Ruskell & Stephen Durfee)

In addition to the color photos and recipes there’s also a nice “artist’s sketch” style pencil drawing for each dessert with notes about the layout  that help you keep track of where to place all the elements.

The "back of the napkin" plan for "Creole"

The book contains 50 different plated dessert recipes–many created by some of the most influential pastry chefs in the US.  If you’re looking to impress the hell out of some dinner guests  with a stunning dessert or you occasionally want to challenge yourself with an advanced creation of your own making–this book will be an asset.

Plating For Gold: A Decade of Desserts from the World and National Pastry Team Championships by Tish Boyle is expected in June.  Mark your calendars for those summer birthdays gifts.  Follow DessertBuzz on Twitter.

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