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Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools: 80 Glorious Desserts    by Margaret M. Johnson & Leigh Beisch order for
Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools
by Margaret M. Johnson
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In her introduction, Margaret Johnson explains the source of the recipes in Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools - her mother's legacy as well as many gleaned during visits to Ireland. The cookbook is interspersed with lovely color photos and descriptions that made me nostalgic. There are also fascinating tidbits of history. I especially enjoyed the account of how Irish Coffee spread to the United States. Each chapter (Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles and Crisps, Fools and Flummeries, Tea Breads and Cakes, and Christmas Treats) begins with information on that type of dessert. The book's large color photos of edibles made my stomach rumble in anticipation.

The ultimate comfort dessert in Ireland is Bread Pudding, and I've baked and eaten many - the Irish whiskey that goes into this one makes me want to try it, and variations like Rhubarb Bread Pudding appeal as well. I will definitely try the recipe for Queen of Puddings, which was a childhood favorite; I can taste it already. The cover photo made me salivate - Tipsy Pudding in Spiced Wine with Honey Cream Cheese, yummm! My grandmother used to serve us Apple Tart. The recipe here for Apple Tart with Hazelnut Crust and Crumble sounds more sophisticated and delicious, as does Delphi Plum Tart with Hazelnut Praline and Cabernet Syrup. We often had Rhubarb Crumble, and the ginger addition here sounds tasty.

Never did have a Fool or Flummery as a child, but they look scrumptious - especially Bailey's Blueberry Mousse and Posset Cuchulainn. I've often made scones (from my grandmother's recipe), soda breads, jam tarts, shortbread, and rock cakes for afternoon tea with friends, but the Tea Breads and Cakes section here will extend my repertoire - I especially like the sound of Lemon-Ginger Scones and Warm Chocolate Cake with Grand Marnier. The last chapter in this engaging cookbook covers Christmas Treats, from Irish Whiskey Christmas Cake to Shortbread Mince Pies, with stops along the way for various Christmas puddings and fruitcakes, Bantry House Guinness Cake (Grandpa would have loved that one!) and Royal Apple Pies. The book concludes with fascinating facts on the 'Hunting of the Wren' on St. Stephen's Day, December 26th.

Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools will satisfy both your sweet tooth and a craving for photos and facts from the Auld Sod. My copy will be well thumbed.

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