Review: PS Desserts, Philippa Sibley

Om nom nom.

Title: PS Desserts
Author: Philippa Sibley
Publisher: Hardie Grant
Style: Desserts, puddings

Rating: 4 stars

If you’re into your puddings and you haven’t heard of Philippa Sibley, now is the time to correct yourself. The Aussie chef is known down under as the Queen of Desserts, so naturally her PS Desserts book is something I was keen to get my hands on. The book is a lovely big hardback, filled with detailed instructions and helpful pictures to ensure even the most complex recipe is spelled out accurately. Philippa covers some of the tricky things with a friendly and non-pretentious air, helping the most novice of chefs navigate the tricky waters of puff pastry, tempering chocolate, and crystallising rose petals.

Its comprehensive, step-by-step section gives excellent advice on some of the basic techniques for dishes like chocolate sponge, crème patisserie, panna cotta and some sorbets. The photography is generous and detailed, though lacking in giant, food porn images of the finished products. PS Desserts is a little more reserved and

Recipe page for Pâte sablée, a french shortbread/pastry

goes for detailed explanations and breakdowns over the big finish. It is the perfect book for the underconfident or inexperienced cook, as it really breaks down some of the techniques which aren’t properly explained in some of your bigger, glossier books. It was a shame that some of the desserts weren’t actually photographed at all, but you can’t argue with it its clear instructional imagery for most of the other dishes.

If you’re lucky enough to have been to Melbourne – which is one of my all time favourite cities – you may have already tried her infamous Snickers dessert,  made up from caramel parfait glace with salted peanut caramel and milk chocolate mousse. That recipe and many of her other big hits is in the book (yippee!) so you really get a chance to make some of her masterpieces at home.

PS Desserts is split into four chapters: equipment & ingredients, basics, traditional recipes and signature desserts, so it’s a full instruction manual as opposed to a coffee table book of puds. Philippa is keen to educate on the skills and techniques, rather than just going “POOF! Here is an amazing dessert which you may or may not be able to recreate!”. I did like that element, but part of me buys cook books for the giant, sexy pictures, so I did feel a bit cheated on the luxury of poring over dishes on full page photos. Still, if you like having the reassurance of a photo at every step, then this is the book for you!