REVIEW: Nostalgic Delights

Front cover of the book Nostalgic Delights

In "Nostalgic Delights", award winning chocolatier William Curley takes inspiration from classic recipes that he has encountered throughout his childhood and career, and updates them to create modern masterpieces.

The book is divided into seven chapters including “Patisserie Modern Classics”, “Ice Cream and Gateau” and “Frivolities”.

Internal image taken from Nostalgic Delights showing Cartwheels

I found the first chapter, “Chocolate Confectionery”, particularly intriguing as it probably contains the most items that I feel like I have a nostalgic connection to, such as “Hazelnuts Rochers” (a take on Ferrero Rocher), “Chocolate Alpines” (like a Toblerone), “Cartwheel” (similar to a Wagon Wheel) and “Walnut Whips”. However, for me the most nostalgic and exciting recipe of them all has to be for the “Curley Wurly” – who wouldn’t want to try plaiting their own Curley Wurly?

Internal image taken from Nostalgic Delights showing Curley Wurly Bars

I’m also partial to many of the recipes in chapter two “Bakery Favourites”. Cherry Bakewells are one of my favourite things, as is chocolate, so naturally Curley’s “Chocolate Cherry Bakewells” look delicious. There is also a recipe for a “Classic Millefeuille”, which always takes me back to walks to the bakery with my mum after playschool when I was a kid – although I’m pretty sure Curley’s version replaces the solid lumpy custard I’m accustomed to, to a Crème Pâtissière that is far more refined.

Internal image taken from Nostalgic Delights showing Chocolate Cherry Bakewells

My first impression of the final chapter “Basics” was slightly disappointing, the photographs nearly all vanish and it doesn’t have quite the same inpact as the rest of the book, however on closer inspection you realise that really, this is the nuts and bolts of the book. All of the items in the book call on these basic recipes in some way in order for you to complete them. It is a real set of foundation recipes that help the beginner on their way to becoming a solid chocolatier, confectioner and pâtissier. There are roughly four recipes per a page, which is an enormous amount of content for one chapter, if more photography had been included it may have been big enough to make another book entirely. Recipes include everything from “Pâte Sucrée”, “Filo Pastry”, “Genoise” and “Pain De Gène” to “Italian Meringue”, “Hazelnut and Almond Dacquoise”, “Crème Mousseline”, “Frangipane”, “White Chocolate Glaze”, “Praline Paste”… and the list goes on. It is like a bible for anyone wanting to tackle The Great British Bake-off (in whatever guise that takes next).

Some of the recipes in the first six chapters look pretty fancy, the kind of fine pâtisserie that I would assume is very much out of my league to produce, but when I read through the instructions it all seems quite possible. Although the book has a very luxurious feel, the photography (by Kevin Summers) is beautifully indulgent, the instructions are written clearly and are easy to follow. The method in each recipe is written in steps and when needed, there are also accompanying numbered photographs to illustrate that step, so it also feels thorough and supportive.

It is worth pointing out that the term ‘nostalgic’ refers to Curley’s own personal experiences and not necessarily the reader’s. As he mentions in the introduction:

“Every individual has their own interpretation of nostalgia, and of course their own fond memories of food. I hope that within the recipes I have created for this book there is going to be a little something enabling every reader to capture their own bit of nostalgia.”

Internal image taken from Nostalgic Delights showing Fudge Doughnuts

Having not grown up in Scotland or worked in the food industry there are certainly recipes in here that mean very little to me emotionally, but I really enjoyed reading every little paragraph that comes at the top of each recipe telling a small story from Curley’s life - it is not only interesting but it makes the book feel warm and personal. So, although I haven’t tried a “Black Bun”, a “Scottish Raspberry Breton” or “Rocher Noix de Coco” before, maybe once I have tried them I will nostalgically think back to this book. I would happily welcome the “Fudge Doughnuts” into my life for a warm nostalgic hug, they look delicious.

“Nostalgic Delights” is a very impressive and generous book, not only does it look mouth-wateringly appetising but it also has interesting, robust, quality content and instructions – to reference a film I feel particularly nostalgic towards, I think this book is “practically perfect in every way”.


Nostalgic Delights by William Curley, photography by Kevin Summers,
published by Jacqui Small (£25).

You can find the book here

ISBN-10: 1910254576
ISBN-13: 978-1910254578

All images courtesy of Jacqui Small