Thanks for the memoriesWayne Harley Brachman, executive pastry chef at Bobby Flay's trend-setting Manhattan restaurants and connoisseur of culinary cool, knows that retro is hip, funky is fun, and that June Cleaver-style fluffy coconut layer cake really tastes great. His paean to the past is Retro Desserts: Totally Hip, Updated Classic Desserts from the '40s,'50s, '60s, and '70s, a gastronomic scrapbook of mouthwatering memorabilia and kitchen kitsch made up of solid standards, clones, and composites, with a few fakes thrown in of the favorites we remember from Mom's cooking or rerun-looking. Bachman's prose is snappy, his advice sound and savvy, the photographs are, well, swell, and there's that special joy in noshing on nostalgia. I found treats from my childhood and many goodies I would have gobbled if given the chance (not for nothing did I wear Chubbies ) chocolate blackout cake, caramel-apple chiffon cupcakes, chocolate-wafer whipped cream roll, flaming crepes suzettes, piled high nesselrode pie (altered and vastly improved), rocky road ice cream, and bourbon balls. If these, and the many others included, don't bring back marvelous memories of waiting impatiently to lick the bowl, spoon, or mixer, I don't know what will. How nice if all memories could be so sweet and all cookbooks so positively neat.
Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.