more inspiring than useful
I bought this book when it was released, in the late 1990's - it was quite a popular book then, and I still use it for reference and ideas occasionally.
It's not a great book - the layout is very ?boy? with boring and dated presentation, and the pictures aren't very pretty. Worse still, the recipes are average, without a lot of flavor- some don't even work. But it does have many good ideas about ingredients, and their usefulness (such as 6 interesting things you can do with mandarins), as well as providing some nice twists on classic desserts. My favorite (and for me, the most useful) aspect of ?New Classic Desserts? is that it compiles spring, summer, fall and winter desserts, so I can refer to it to prepare my menus for the upcoming season, with special attention to fruits and other ingredients that will become available.
This seasonal approach is what makes this book inspirational for me, as opposed to useful; as I said, the recipes often aren't very good! Still - many of the ideas are great - you just need to be an experienced pastry chef to be able to modify them so they produce quality desserts. For this reason I recommend ?New Classic Desserts? for bakers with a solid understanding of pastry, as a source of inspiration rather than usefulness in the kitchen.