If you feel like trying your hand at the sculptural extravaganzas fit for four-star restaurants, you need only pick up Sweet Seasons: Fabulous Restaurant Desserts Made Simple by pastry chef extraordinaire Richard Leach. This award-winning pastissier, who changed the way dessert looks in the fanciest venues across the country, now breaks down the components of his many-splendored sweets into bite-sized pieces. If you don't have the time and some extra hands to help, you can make just one part of a complex confection say Chilled Pear Soup without the Goat Cheese Fritters and Honey Tuiles or Pumpkin Praline Pie served solo instead of with Spice Cake, Praline Ice Cream and Pumpkin chips. This is the kind of book that inspires you to reach for heights rarely scaled in the home kitchen and there's much to be said for dreaming the impossible sweet dream and, in some cases, making those dreams an epicurean reality.
Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.