Cookbook Review: PS desserts by Philippa Sibley

My rating: 4 ½ stars


This is a book for serious dessert lovers, budding pastry chefs and domestic cooks ready for training from a generous and kindly master.

Philippa Sibley is one of Australia’s most famous pastry chefs. Despite her lofty accolades she has given us an ego free, extremely helpful book that demystifies the art behind restaurant quality pastry dishes. She includes her very famous Snickers Bar as seen on Masterchef season2.

The first 200 pages are dedicated to teaching the basic building blocks of any plated dessert – pastries, cakes, creams, fruits and chocolate work. The book provides a step by step photographed guide to making these dessert staples. For example 10 pages are dedicated to showing you how to make puff pastry. The last 60 pages are dedicated to recipes.

Below: How to make puff pastry, How to temper chocolate, How to make chocolate plaques, How to make crystallised rose petals

This is a book with coffee table production values but surprisingly little food porn. While there are over 200 step by step photos of how to make sablee, puff pastry, gingerbread etc, the book tends to omit the money shot from some of the basics portion.

For example there is no photo for the chocolate sponge or the chocolate brownie. : ( This is a small gripe though as the book is so abundantly generous with photos on how to make the item. The final product usually appears in some form in the final signature dishes (albeit somewhat obscured by a giant glob of ice-cream).

Photos for the final product of the 7 classic and 10 signature dishes are given.

Below Classic Recipes: Lemon Tart, Creme Brulee or Creme Casonade, Bread n Butter Pudding, Fruit Tartletts, Rice Pudding with Poached Dried Fruit, Tiramisu, Summer Pudding


Below Signature Dishes: Peach Melba for Oprah, Poire Belle-Helene, Snow White and Rose Red, Pain Perdu with Blood Plum and Blackberry and Yoghurt Sorbet,

Sable Breton with Roasted Figs, White Chocoalte Mousse and Port, PS Snickers, Mille-feuille with Citrus Fruits and Basil, Raspberry and Choclate Delice with Gingerbread Ice-cream,

Pineapple Doughnuts with Gingerbread Ice-cream,  Sauternes Creme Caramel Thyme Roasted Apricots and Almond Roly-Poly

But how does this book cook?

Brownies from PS Desserts by Philippa Sibley

  • 300 g best quality dark couverture chocolate finely chopped or grated
  • 200g unsalted butter cubed
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  •  200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 80g best quality dark couveture chocolate, extra, roughly chopped or substitute with nuts or a combination of both
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas4). Line a 30cm x 20 cm brownie tin with baking paper.
  2. Finely chop or grate the chocolate and melt before you give it a stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  3. When the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat and add the butter. Stir to combine and keep warm.
  4. In the meantime, place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and lightly whisk.
  5. Add both the sugars and whisk until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and fold through
  6.  Fold the egg mixture into the warm chocolate mixture.
  7. Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold through. Stir through the roughly chopped chocolate (I used nuts).
  8. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 15-20 mins or until slightly puffed and springy to the touch. The brownie should be shiny and slightly cracked on the surface. Allow to cool in the in before turning out.



The brownie tasted divine. But I wish there was a photo in the book to compare it to. I’m not sure if my brownie was too runny. My chocaholic sister in law loved it. I kinda love the fact Philippa gives us recipes for just the basics. Can you imagine making her version of a creme brulee?! Awesome!!

This is a really beautiful book that is extremely instructive. I can’t wait to make Philippa Sibley’s lemon tart and Snickers bar! I received this book gratis but at time of post I found great prices at


  • Clarissa
    December 1, 2011 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    That last picture looks so gooey and chocolatey it almost hurts to look at (as someone who is trying not to eat sugar). I can picture myself eating a big chunk of that warm out of the oven with some vanilla icecream. Perfection!

    I have to try that snickers dessert too. Please let us know if you make it and if it is as difficult to make as it looks!

  • Kate
    December 5, 2011 - 10:29 am | Permalink

    I was lucky enough to try one of cookie’s brownies. It was one of the best I have ever eaten and made me go back for more and break my pledge to only have small amounts of dessert post-baby!

  • EKC
    December 5, 2011 - 11:47 am | Permalink

    That brownie blew my mind! It’s a wonder I’m able to focus on life planning – the amount of time that I’m going to dedicate to eat has just gone through the roof! Hooray for brownies!

  • Pingback: COOKMYBOOKS.NET » My Favourite Cookbooks for Christmas 2011

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *