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Sherry Yard's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping

Though I had known of pastry chef Sherry Yard for some time, the first time I truly became aware of her was during her appearance on Iron Chef several years ago. With blonde sprout-like pigtails and complete composure, she did her thing beside Wolfgang Puck--pumping out ice cream in no time and nonchalantly pulling hot caramel into delicate strands with her bare hands--helping him to clinch "battle egg."

I was inspired by her then, and still am now, particularly with her latest book, Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills, Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever. Part memoir and part cookbook, the volume is imbued with Yard's pluck and passion, making it as much of a joy just to read, as it is to cook from.

Arranged biographically with anecdotal introductions, the recipes in the book cover a lot of ground, illustrating the progression of her career, from the simple classics of her Brooklyn youth to the scones she learned to perfect during her studies in London, through to a show-stopping six-layer Dobos torte surmounted by a golden statue that she created for the 76th Academy Awards ceremony.

Though some recipes require a good deal of time and planning, including the divine-looking Triple Silken Pumpkin Pie, many can be more or less whipped together, and all are described with great clarity and detailed with helpful tips. There is also a section in the back with basic building block recipes and techniques that make the book as well-rounded and useful as it is charming.

With almost every recipe there's a scrumptious illustration, making it rather difficult to decide which one to try first. Luckily, Yard foresaw this predicament, heading her recipe for the Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping with a recommendation: if you are only going to try one recipe in the book, this should be it. The recipe's result was a formidably tall, satisfyingly rich chocolate fix--impressive to behold, delicious to partake, and easy to make.

About the author: Amanda Clarke is a recovering restaurant pastry chef with a background in architecture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes, tests, and develops recipes and works on freelance food-styling gigs between walkings and feedings of her two dogs and husband.

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