Book review: Sweet

The wait is over! Yotam Ottolenghi – together with Helen Goh – has finally released his much awaited dessert recipe book: Sweet. Having made his name for bringing the Levantine kitchen to London (zaatar, techina, and preserved lemons), a dessert book had plenty for potential to either be really good (like Jerusalem), or equally disappoint (like Nopi). Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised.

Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi (via
Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi (via

Ottolenghi’s first kitchen job was whipping egg whites for souffles and meringues, so one might argue that a dessert book is almost a return to his professional roots. While egg-based sweet goods do appear here and there, Sweet remains a fairly balanced recipe book, covering all manner of desserts. Entire chapters are devoted to cookies, cheesecakes, mini-cakes and everything in between.

Ottolenghi and Goh take a particular philosophical approach to their cooking presented in Sweet: while not all the recipes could be described as being particularly straightforward, they are nonetheless accessible, and the authors do their best to metaphorically hold the baker’s hand throughout the process. With regards to sugar, Ottolenghi is emphatic that it is not “the enemy”. Rather, it is the hidden sugars in notionally savoury processed foods he prefers to watch out for. For this reason, desserts should be celebrated, and emphatically not avoided!

I was a big of fan of Sweet. While innovative and creative, it remains one of Ottolenghi’s more accessible recipe books, both in terms of ease of use/techniques, and availability of ingredients. I think the only ingredient throughout that raised an eyebrow was liquid glucose, but a quick online search of three major British supermarkets revealed that it was widely available. Techina still features in a few recipes (as could be expected), though, as do vegetables in somewhat unexpected places!

Sweet makes a welcome edition to Ottolenghi’s previous repertoire of books, providing a broad range of dessert recipes appropriate for all levels of chefs. With plenty of recipes offering a “wow” factor, its offerings are sure to impress, and I look forward to cooking from it.

About the Author
Daniel J. Levy is a graduate of the University of Leeds and Oxford, where his academic research primarily focused on Iranian proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. He is the Founding Director and Lead Consultant of the Ortakoy Security Group, and has contributed editorial pieces to The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and Israel Policy Exchange. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and cooking. He can be followed on Twitter @danielhalevy.