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Sweet Serendipity - Cookbook Review

Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish

by Stephen Bruce with Brett Bara

(Universe Publishing (Rizzoli), 2004)

Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish by Stephen Bruce with Brett Bara

"I came to New York 57 years ago and I didn't know what Serendipity meant. I sure as hell do now."

Elaine Stritch, in Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish

Serendipity, to New Yorkers, means the famous and whimsical general store/restaurant/dessertery named Serendipity 3, located at 225 E. 60th St. Then there's Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish — the new cookbook by Serendipity 3 co-founder, Stephen Bruce (the other two partners of the troika have, sadly, departed to that great ice-cream parlor in the sky).

Sweet Serendipity is as star-struck and tooth-achingly sweet as its East Side location — known for long waits and tiny tots, parents in tow, demanding daily sugar fixes. Whether you're thinking about Serendipity 3, the restaurant, or Sweet Serendipity, the book, it's as much about Liza, Leona, Brooke and Calista, as it is about Blueberry Betty and Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.

Most will agree that dessert is first and the rest is irrelevant at Serendipity 3, and Bruce has wisely chosen to focus on the "main course" in his book. He provides an engaging intro and history before launching into 75 thrilling sweets. You get the picture already on the inside cover (fuchsia), which features the restaurant's seating chart and the favorite tables of the stars. Once you know exactly where the likes of Demi, Barbra and Roseanne indulge in serendipitous sugar highs, all you really need are the recipes and some celebrity dish.

Sweet Serendipity is candied with lots of quotes and a handful of stories—including the one about Garbo's visit. The desserts are fun, with capricious names—crumbly cookies named Aunt Buba's Sand Tarts, Liza Mae's Chocolate Roll and Aunt Lucille's Georgia Chess Pie. There are cakes, cookies, pies, puddings, frozen drinks and "More Delectable Delights that Defy Categorization." Those would be Chocolate Crèpes, Cherry Pan Dowdy and Chocolate Chip Pizza.

Work your way from Mississippi Mud Cake to Aunt Buba's Macaroons. Take a break before you hit the Lemon Ice Box Pie and save room for Serendipity's famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate — an outrageously rich and delicious chocolate slush of a dessert. If you have a controlling sweet tooth, this book will be your new best friend.

Reviewed by Kevin Schoeler



(Updated: 01/25/12 CT)

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