Book Review

Angels in My Kitchen: Divine Dessert Recipes

by Caryl Westwood

Celestial Arts, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707. 1997. 147 pages. Paperback. $14.95.
(Price/availability info may have changed since original publication of review.)

Reviewed by Bob Allen (1/1998)

Cookbooks featuring fruit are a welcome addition to any fruit grower's library. As rare fruit growers, we know all too well what it is like to be overwhelmed by too much of a good thing. Follow along with Caryl Westwood as the angels in her kitchen bring inspiration in the form of divine desserts. Over one-half of the 121 recipes in her cookbook, "Angels in My Kitchen: Divine Dessert Recipes," use fruit as a primary ingredient. Just a sample of recipe titles will give you an idea: Peachful Angel Cake, Cherub Raspberry Cups, Lemon Squares, Lime Drop Zingers, Walnut Raspberry Bars, Apricot Bars, Black Cherry Sauce, Frangipani Pear Tart, Autumn Berry Pie, Chocolate Cherry Custard Tart, Blackberry and Pear Crostata, Strawberry Romanoff Mousse, Rapture of Raspberry Mousse, Perfectly Peach Melba Mousse, Dazzling Raspberry Bread, Raspberry Peach Sorbet, Lychee Coconut Sorbet, Mango Ice Cream, Chocolate Pizza Paradise, Blueberry Cherry Crumble, Key Lime Bites.

Caryl Westwood is currently pastry chef at Santa Fe Baking Co. In previous incarnations, she owned a successful catering business in Lake Tahoe, leading to a position as Food and Beverage Manager at the "Village at Squaw" in Squaw Valley. She trained as a pastry chef at the four-star restaurant Longboat Key Club, located on a barrier island just off the coast of Sarasota on Florida's west coast.

The book is arranged in groupings of recipes by nine choirs of angels. A brief introduction covers the basics of melting chocolate, toasting nuts, clarifying butter, freezing cookie dough, and reviving stale sweets. Caryl suggests for the frequent baker the following useful tools: Kitchen Aid mixer, food processor and Pyrex dishes, the latter for more uniform heat distribution as compared with metal dishes. She recommends using flavored syrups, such as those of Torani, as a replacement for liqueurs in all types of desserts.

One of the more unusual recipes, Chocolate Pizza Paradise, uses the following fruit ingredients: seedless raspberry jam, orange juice, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, pears and strawberries. The crust is made with crumbled cream-filled chocolate cookies. This is topped with a fudge batter on which are spread the jam and fruit toppings. Then the pizza is garnished with dribbles of melted white chocolate (to resemble melted cheese) and sprinkled with dark chocolate shavings.

The angels have a real taste for chocolate, even when they are not making pizza, as evidenced by the recipe for Celebration Devil's Food Cake. There is no disclaimer as to how angels could be involved with such an endeavor and no apology. But back to the fruited desserts. My one quibble with the book is the suggestion to use Red Delicious apples for baking in two recipes: Apple Tartan (not Tartin) and Lovely Berry Crumble. On a trip to Maine in June of this year, I picked up a brochure from Bunker Hill Orchards and Nurseries. In it, a chart entitled "Know Your Apples" lists Red Delicious as suitable for snacks and salads and recommends the following apples for baking:
Red CortTangy/Sweet
Smoothee Golden Delicious    Tart/Sweet
Gibson Golden DeliciousTangy/Sweet
Northern SpyTangy
Red RomeTangy
Red WinesapSpicy/Wine Like
Arkansas BlackSprite/Tangy
Granny SmithTangy

The dessert recipes use fruit in many forms fresh and frozen berries and cherries, dried, juice, nectar, pie filling, jam giving the creative cook ideas for every season and occasion. The eighth choir of angels consists of archangels who show us how to use fruit combinations in "Sinless Sorbets and Enlightened Ice Creams." Not only are these recipes very appealing to the taste buds, they are very simple to make, some having only three or four ingredients.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to those looking for new and unusual ways to serve fruit from their garden.

© Copyright 1997, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
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