Life is Sweet Hope and Greenwood
Ebury Press £12.99
If you don't have a sweet tooth, then permission to look away now, but for those of you stuck with a brief to come up with a petits fours list or just with a predilection for confectionery, this book from the people behind Covent Garden sweet shop, Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood, could be right up your street.
Described as "a collection of splendid, old-fashioned confectionery", Life is Sweet steps back into an age when going to the corner shop for a quarter of your favourite sweets was something all kids - and some adults - looked forward to.
While the publicity suggests, in knowing 1950s fashion, that the recipes are "easily achievable by even the most simple housewives or house-husbands" - although one doubts the latter would have been mentioned at the time - there are some useful nuggets for professional chefs here.
The book features a grand total of 50 sweet recipes, ranging from toffee and fudge, coconut ice, gums, jellies and nougat, to hand-made chocolates, truffles and sherbert lemon marshmallows. All the recipes are based around the use of non-artificial ingredients, including fresh cream, butter and natural vanilla.
Many of the recipes include a handy hint from Miss Hope and, although many of these are cutesy and quirky - like "go shopping and leave your mother in charge of cleaning up", others have a more practical culinary tone which can be helpful for a beginner - "to guarantee stiff egg white, run the cut side of a lemon around the surface of the mixing bowl to remove any fat".
This book isn't going to provide huge amounts of inspiration for seasoned pastry professionals, but for those who fancy trying their hand at a few petits fours or sharing plates of retro sweeties but want to keep the offer light and entertaining, this has got some cracking ideas and will no doubt provide some nice profit margins, too.