It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have at least a little bit of a sweet tooth. Most of us have more than that; and making desserts from scratch is an impressive way to satisfy it.

There is a mystique that surrounds dessert making, which suggests that it’s much harder than normal cooking. On a grand scale, there’s some truth to that, but for home cooks? No way. Although precise measuring plays a greater role, much of dessert making is simply following the recipe. And, just as in savory cooking, after you learn a few basic techniques and principles you’ll have plenty of leeway to customize and vary recipes to your liking.

In this chapter you’ll learn all the important basic dessert techniques by using them to produce some all-time favorites: You’ll cream butter for cookies, separate eggs for mousse, make and spread icing for cake, roll out dough for pie, and more. You’ll quickly see that, while it’s important to be precise, it’s also easy to be precise.

One word about equipment: All of the recipes here can be made successfully by hand. But I won’t kid you: Having a handheld electric mixer and a food processor will make the work go faster. If you’re going to bake even occasionally, these are worthwhile investments.

My guess is that it will take only one or two recipes for your fear of dessert to evaporate. After that, all you’ll have to worry about is learning to control your sweet tooth.

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