Review: Brian Joss
Faaiza Omar who has been living the “sweet life” for more than 20 years could easily enjoy a decadent desert for dinner and you can find plenty of those in My Sweet Life. The book is packed with a plethora of recipes starting from Alfajores (traditional Peruvian cookies) to a Yuzu Chiffon Cake with a Strawberry Marscapone Frosting.
The book’s chapter headings are Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts, Ice Creams, Petit Fours and Brioches, as well as a comprehensive index. One thing though, the ingredients are not cheap, and some of them are available only at speciality shops. Omar also uses a thermofan oven which means if you have an ordinary oven you will have to adjust the temperatures accordingly.
Some of the desserts are complicated, especially those with multi components but try and try again. It will be worth the effort and the expression on your guests’ faces will be priceless.
There are 10 different ice cream options from Dulce De Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches to a Mint Brownie Ice Cream or a Pistachio Gelato.
Then there is a selection of Petit Fours including the Alfajores, one for Dulce De Leche and one for Banana Delice and several cakes in the same chapter. Pasteis De Nata, the famous Portuguese delicacy gets a place of honour.
Omar has also given a recipe for a Napoleon, a Russian speciality. Although the one she makes is a multilayer cake using puff pastry, the one I enjoyed was made using rolled-out phyllo pastry with layers of cream, home-made custard and decorated with in-season berries. It was made by my friend’s Russian grandmother and was the size of a table top. Omar’s version may be an excellent substitute but it is not a genuine Napoleon.
Another must-have on your tea table are the Passion Fruit and Chocolate Macarons. They are challenging to make, even for an expert baker, as are the madeleines for which you need a madeleine tray to get the scallop effect. There are recipes for a variety of cheesecakes as well as brioches.
Omar is South African and she gives master classes at her pastry school. She won the Lancewood Cake Bake Off Challenge and a trip to New York with her Rose, Pistachio and Raspberry Gateau.
The book is illustrated with full colour images.
My Sweet Life is worth a place in your cookery book collection and as Omar advises, it is a book to be used, so don’t be afraid to make notes or write in it.