David Lebovitz’s Sweet Life in Paris: The Book (A Recipe, Too)

The new book brings these two parts of David’s world together: it’s got the stories his blog readers have come to love and the recipes home bakers cherish.  It is a funny, sly, quirky, completely Davidish read.  It’s a collection of short stories, vignettes, anecdotes and observances that many who don’t know Paris will find laugh-out-loud funny and delightfully absurd, while many who do know the city will find the stories laugh-out-loud funny, delightfully absurd and very, very Parisian. 

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David is a sharp observer and he picks on the parts of French life that make the French who are they are and, in many ways, so endearing.  As a part-time Parisian, I didn’t find it odd that David got himself all dolled up to toss out the trash – having seen my neighbors at the garbage bins in their Sunday best, I do the same (or better yet, delegate the job to my husband) – but I certainly was glad that he, not I, bumped into the dentist’s assistant sunbathing bare-breasted by the Seine.  David guides you from the lines at the markets – and the people who cut them – to what Parisians really mean when they say ‘no’, and makes you laugh all along the way.

You don’t have to be in Paris, plan to be in Paris or even like Paris to put this book on your must-have list, but it would be good if you wanted to cook and bake.  Even without the cache of stories, the 50 recipes in The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious — and Perplexing — City are reason enough to own the book.  Whether you think of The Sweet Life in Paris as a memoir or a cookbook, you’re in for a treat.

BOUCHEES CHOCOLAT AU YAOURT/ Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz

Makes 12 individual cakes

7 ounces (200g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125ml) unflavored vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup (125ml) plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (200g) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (180g) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line a muffin tin with 12 indentations with paper cupcake liners, or lightly butter them.

2. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup (60ml) of the oil. Once melted and smooth, remove from heat.

3. In another bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup (65ml) of oil with the yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and almond extracts.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the yogurt mixture. Stir lightly a couple of times, then add the melted chocolate, and stir until just smooth.

6. Divide the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes, or until the cakes feel barely set in the middle.

7. Remove from oven and cool before serving.