Todd English soared to stardom in the culinary world with his distinctive style of layering flavors and textures, a style that has made his restaurants, and the cookbooks that feature his dishes, so popular. The philosophy for the desserts served at Olives is the same as that for the entrées: "We like to pull things out of the country and dress them up," says Todd. "We take very simple things and layer them together to compose a more complex dish." The result? Desserts that are always more than the sum of their parts, combining familiar and comfortable flavors in unique and unexpected ways. Extravagant creations such as Mango Tarte Tatin with Pastry Cream and Chocolate Pastry; Apple-Topped Gingerbread with Hot Applesauce and Cinnamon Ice Cream; Butterscotch Pudding in a Chocolate Crumb Crust with Fudge-Topped Toffee Cookies and Chocolate Lace Cigarettes; Blue Cheese Danish with Port-Poached Pears; Cranberry-Lime Sorbet with Walnut Rugelach; Double Chocolate Soufflé with Deep, Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Chocolate Anglaise. Best of all, each of the 43 spectacular desserts featured is made up of building block recipes (more than 145 in all), many of which can be prepared ahead of time, and many that taste great on their own. So you can wow your guests with White Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with Caramel Semi-Freddo and Boozy Caramel Sauce. Or simply serve your family the best banana bread they'll ever have. No matter which option you choose, the results will be extraordinary.
Sally Sampson is the founder of ChopChop magazine and the author and coauthor of numerous cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-nominated The $50 Dinner Party, Throw Me a Bone (with Cooper Gillespie), and The Olives Table (with Todd English). She has contributed to Self, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and The Boston Phoenix. She lives with her family in Watertown, Massachusetts.