A dictionary of desserts? An international dictionary of desserts? Impossible. It would have to be the size of a phone book.
But Carole Bloom’s “The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries and Confections” (Hearst Books) tilts boldly at this particular windmill, and the result is a useful book.
There are some definite surprises among its 800-odd definitions (chocolate turns out to have a Brazilian relative, “cupuacu”). The book also includes 86 recipes, from major-league pastries like the Hungarian “rigo jancsi” to simple pleasures like fruit fool and basic elements such as chocolate plastic and rolled fondant, two ultrafancy pastry coverings.
Some may find the book worth the price just for making clear, finally, the distinctions between all those weirdly named New England fruit desserts: buckle, brown Betty, pandowdy, cobbler, grunt and slump (“a type of cobbler, similar to a grunt, but slumps are usually baked, rather than steamed”).
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